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๐Ÿ•๐Ÿ‘ƒ๐Ÿ’œ Why I'm a big fan of nosework ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ‘ƒ๐Ÿ•

I love Nosework. It's now right up there with Agility and Fitness for me for a dog activity that I love to train, and compete in.

A big part of my Performance Puppy raising and training philosophy is to do a little bit of everything to see what the puppies strengths are, what they prefer. I also love having a dog with foundations in many sports as this gives me lots of options later in life.

Grid is just starting out in Nosework. We aren't yet ready to compete. Photo by Gaye Stammers.

Here are some of my top reasons why I love nosework!

Nosework is perfect for stress heads

Sniffing is soothing. It's the reason that many times when a dog is stressed, they sniff the ground. The olfactory centre of the brain shifts the brain into 'searching mode', which impacts the surrounding areas in a positive way. Sniffing makes dogs feel good!

So often we don't allow a dog to sniff, because we worry it's distracting. But this can actually make a worried dog much more worried. If your concerned about rewarding Sniffing first of all don't be, secondly in nosework we are teaching a dog to sniff on cue.

Nosework is a great option for dogs with health issues

I started nosework with my retired agility dog, and also my young spaniel who has orthopedic issues that prevents her from competing in agility. Whilst nosework can be a fast and frantic sport, it is also a sport where steady dogs can be successful. You are also able to use appropriate physical supports for dogs (like boots to prevent slipping, a coat, braces on limbs etc), and you can control their movement with the harness and longline and verbally. This makes nosework physically a very safe sport.

Flori doing a training exercise at a K9 Kitea Scent workshop.

Nosework was made for reactive dogs

Nosework competition and training as a sport is based on the work that detection dogs do, with modifications. In the early days workshops taught sports handlers the basics of scentwork. At this time there was already other sports with Scent components, like obedience, tracking, and hunting work. This new sport of searching for a target odour quickly became popular for handlers of reactive dogs. This is because in nosework a dog never works around other dogs, and in competition people present are minimal and give the dogs plenty of space. This means managing some dogs who are unable to compete on other sports becomes achievable. When you also consider that reactive dogs are soothed by sniffing and gain confidence with independent searching, this makes nosework a perfect sport.

Nosework creates confident dogs that can work away from the handler with confidence

A big part of how dogs need to search in nosework is working ahead, catching odour, and working to source. They need to take charge, and show the handler where the odour is. This creates confidence in sensitive dogs and this confidence can spread into other areas in their lives.

You can get geeky, if you so choose

The great thing with nosework is you can really play the game without too much thought and understanding, as long as you have a great instructor and learn to read your dogs behaviour. But.... if your a dog training geek.... you can train a fancy alert, get into odour movement and air flow and all sorts of cool stuff! You can see this in this Scentsabilities video.

There's multiple competition options

In New Zealand you can compete in SSANZ (Scent Sports Association New Zealand) competition, or Dogs NZ Scentwork competitions. I compete in SSANZ competitions as I like their flexibility, that you do each element in a trial, and they have from day 1 have allowed rewarding at source.

There are also a number of online video submission based nosework competitions and titles, like the FDSA title scheme.

You can reward in competition

There's so many issues that I see in agility from dogs that have a very different 'picture' in competition, compared to training. Much of this is because in competition dogs are not reinforced in the same way as in training.

Nosework is one of the few sports where you can reward, with any reinforcer (toys or food) I'm the competition area. That's cool.

Nosework communities are awesome

I have found both the online, and in person nosework communities an awesome place to be. They can be more understanding, and supportive than other dog sport communities I think because nosework as a sport is composed of a large number of both handlers and dogs with issues that restrict them from other sports. Most people tend in jump in and help where they can, so competitions are run in part by competitors. I really value, and enjoy the company of many of the new dog people I've met in nosework.

Amerillis Farmer's dog Cohen. Photo by Grace Matulovic, Paws The Moment Photography.

More information and resources

๐Ÿ• K9 Kitea Scent

๐Ÿ• SSANZ website

๐Ÿ• FDSA: Nosework courses available each term

Keep an eye out on Hybrid Training social media for upcoming Nosework classes and workshops!

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