Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sniffing Out Nose Work

Over the weekend we scored a bunch of freebies, not only from our trip to the new Unleashed by Petco store, but we also had the opportunity to participate in a free Intro to K9 Nose Work class offered by a local trainer.

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?


  1. Miss M has gone through nearly all of the training classes offered here, and someone recommended we should try nosework with her (which given that we suspect she's part hound with all of her sniffing sounds like a great idea!) We haven't gotten around to trying a formal class, though we are interested in trying some things around our home, especially on cold or rainy days. Thanks for the resources, and I'm excited to read more!

    1. Athena has such a hound nose too! Her noises are ridiculous!

  2. This sounds like a lot of fun. I already use the "find it" command with Ray for certain situations but I would like to do some more extesive training at home to begin with. I'm going to check out those resources.

    I felt so proud of Athena as I was reading your post and am glad she had such a great time. Ray is a big tail tucker in new situations and it makes me feel so bad for him. I just keep supporting him and we keep getting better.

    Go Athena!!

    1. I was very proud of Athena too, she really got over her fear and got right into the sniffing!

  3. Very cool. We haven't done nose work, but it's on our list of things to try with Heidi :)

  4. Good job Athena! I am really glad she liked the nose work so much the second time around! This stuff sounds like so much fun. Mom keeps talking about giving it a try, but she has never gotten to it...yet :)

  5. That's awesome! Zoe hasn't done nosework before, but we've tried to simulate it at home with boxes and stuff. She really loves it! :)

  6. Nose work sounds really fun! Maybe we'll look into that here! I'm so glad Athena was able to overcome her fears and excel in the class!

  7. Titan loves Nose Work and has completed two courses. He does really well once he settles down and gets to work. If you're interested, you can watch him here...http://thelifeandtimesofsirtitan.blogspot.com/2012/12/more-nose-work.html
    I'm glad Athena felt so comfortable the second time around, good luck with future Nose Work!

  8. Glad Athena did well for her course. I actually had never heard of "nose work" before. It looks pretty cool!

  9. Thanks for all of the links! Nose work sounds like it might be interesting for our 2, though they tend to be nervous in new situations and don't get over them as fast as super Athena. :)

  10. What a fun and interesting opportunity!
    I love your description of her first versus her second try. She's the shy dog's role model!
    I'll be honest, Hades and Braylon are about as low-drive as it comes as far as interest in... anything. They like, walks, outings and food. They are so low-key. I guess maybe because they are nuts about food they could grow to enjoy something like this.

  11. My husband is OBSESSED with making at least one of the dogs in a scent (pit) hound so I'm sure we're going to try it at some point. Sounds like Athena rocked out!!!