Doing Work…Nose Work

As you know, I’m always looking for new things for Hunter and Roscoe to do. So when I came across a nose work class recently I knew we had to try it. Nose work helps to develop your dog’s scenting skills through fun and games.

I originally signed Hunter up to do the six-week class offered by Liz Wyant, a trainer with Pit Bull Zen, but after hearing from Liz how great the class is for fearful dogs decided to have Roscoe do the class instead. Since nose work does not involve interaction with other dogs or people, it’s great for dogs who don’t do well in traditional training settings, mainly fearful or very reactive dogs. Nose work utilizes skills that most dogs already have, so it’s a great confidence builder and bonding exercise for dogs and owners.

Getting in the nose work zone. Roscoe at his first class.
Getting in the nose work zone. Roscoe at his first class.

I have not been able to find much to engage Roscoe so I was so excited to find an activity he might really excel in. Nose work classes start off by having dogs find treats (or sometimes toys, for this class it was treats) hidden in boxes, progressively adding more each week and making it harder to find. More advanced classes sometimes involve having dogs find target odors, where you give the dog the scent of something and then have them find it.

We started out very slow with Roscoe to make it fun and build his confidence. The first week he followed shyly behind me, letting me lead the way. Initially, he was scared if the treat was too close to the edge of the box or if it slightly moved when he got close to it. But by last week’s class, he was leading me and finding treats that were hidden in hard to reach places.

It was amazing to see how much he improved week to week. I am so glad we did this class since it gave us a chance to bond and for him to do an activity that he could be successful in to build his confidence. I’ve seen a lot of progress in Roscoe lately, being less fearful of people and experiences and I think some of that can be attributed to this class.

We’ve also been working on it at home too, which has been great to give him some activity during the week. Although it’s an easy activity to do at home, I think it’s also a good experience to get a fearful dog out and doing it in a class environment with new smells and surroundings. I think it also helped Roscoe being away from his pushy brother Hunter, who hasn’t realized yet that he’s not the only dog in the house.

I am so proud of my little guy!

To learn more about nose work, this site has a lot of good information: http://www.k9nosework.com.

And this site has a lot of good info for doing nose work at home: http://www.somethingwagging.com/k9-nose-work-introduction/k9-nose-work-pdf.

Liz said she will most likely be offering another class, possibly in May, so I will keep you posted. Fortunate Fido in Columbia Station also offers nose work classes as well, although they have none scheduled at the moment.

Have you tried nose work with your dog? What did you think?