This is a class like no other you have ever taken before! If you have taken an obedience class, rally class, agility class, you know that, as a handler, you are responsible for giving the correct cues to your dog to get the expected behavior. In K9 Nosework, the dog leads the search and the handler is there to support the dog as needed.
Classes are very small and only one dog works at a time. While a dog is working a problem, the other dogs in the class are confined to their vehicles outside of the class building. When the working dog completes his searches, he retires to his vehicle and the next dog comes into the building. This allows the dog who just completed his training to “consolidate” his learning by having private time to rest both his mind and body.
Any breed or breed mix can successfully perform Nosework. It is also a great activity for senior dogs. Obedience training is NOT a prerequisite.
The mental exercise exerted by dogs while performing searches wears them out! It is a great game for high energy dogs! Dogs can continue to work in this sport for their entire lives, it never gets boring for them. AND the relationship bond between the dog and the handler is strengthened as the handler learns to read the dog’s hunt behavior and alert.
The dog is rewarded for his correct “find” with multiple small pieces of his VERY FAVORITE treat by his handler.
The foundation training enhances the dog’s natural ability to hunt. The dog is presented with multiple boxes only one of which contains food. As his skill improves, the searches for his primary reward becomes more difficult until he can locate his “find” in a closed box.
This foundation skill is then transferred and generalized to interior spaces, exterior spaces and vehicles. The hide at this stage of training continues to be food. The dog’s hunt behavior becomes stronger and stronger and the handler becomes more and more skilled at reading his dog’s behavior when both hunting and when identifying the location of the hide.
The hunting behavior is then transferred from food to three essential oils…..birch, anise, and clove. At this stage of training, more instruction is given to the handler than the dog to be sure that he can support his dog as needed and can recognize when his dog has successfully located a hide.
This activity is fun for both the handler and dog and can be continued and refined as a bonding activity for the team. Some handlers decide to enter trials and compete in the sport. Trials are organized to be both challenging and fun for all competitors and dogs.
The sport has many hidden benefits. Fearful dogs gain confidence in themselves and their skills. Reactive dogs are able to learn and enjoy the sport since only one dog works a search at a time. High energy dogs work off excess energy and become better companions.
By participating in K9 Nosework with your dog, you are giving him the freedom to express and refine his natural talents, and he’s giving you a glimpse into how he “sees” his world.