|Please excuse the photo quality. They were taken on my phone|
Intro to Nose Work:
The nose work class provided Athena with many new experiences including her first time being left alone in the car (is it weird that we've never left her alone in the car before?). Seeing as nothing got destroyed in my car, I would say that Athena did fine and I probably didn't have to worry as much as I did (I was pretty much freaking out in my head the entire time thinking that she would be ripping up my car seats).
During the class we learned about the sport, competition, and the different levels of classes to take to work towards competing. After learning all about what nose work is, each dog and handler team had the chance to try their hand at beginning box work (hiding food in a cardboard box for the dog to find and then rewarding them with more food once they've found the correct box).
Scaredy Dog Turned Nose Work Dog:
Athena and I were the second team to try out the course. I told the trainer that I expected Athena to be nervous about the new situation (she is usually very nervous in new situations), so the trainer used shorter boxes and heavily rewarded Athena for her bravery. It was no surprise that Athena was SHAKING as soon as we stepped into the room. She did her slow and low army crawl throughout the course, but was able to successfully sniff out all of the food filled boxes.
After all of the other teams had their first turn, we were able to try out box work a second time. I retrieved Athena from the car and immediately noticed that she seemed like a completely different dog than before. She rushed into the room like nose work was her most favorite thing in the world. This time instead of having her tail tucked between her legs, Athena's tail was wagging all about. She also left her army crawl at the door and galloped through the entire course showing the crowd the true Athena (a crazy horse galloping dog who will do ANYTHING for food). The trainer even had Athena do some advanced box work because she was loving it so much.
First Time Shy Dog:
Athena is a "first time shy dog" at pretty much everything. We can usually expect first time experiences to be a bit scary for Athena. But, we have noticed that Athena warms up very quickly to new things and is always ready to show her true colors during a second try. This was very true for our nose work experience and I'm glad that Athena found confidence and was able to see that the new experience was not a scary one.
I think that Athena would do great at nose work if we were to pursue it in the future. In the meantime, we plan to implement a bit of home nose work for fun. Here are some resources and at-home nose work games:
National Association of Canine Scent Work
K9 Nose Work
Getting Started in Nose Work
Expanding the Search...Building the Nose Work Game
Building Confidence Through Self-Discovery
K9 Nose Work: Train Your Dog's Scenting Abilities
Harnessing the Power of Your Dog's Nose: An Introduction to K9 Nose Work
K9 Nose Work
Have you and your dog ever given nose work a try?