One of the most attractive things about the sport is the broad canine population that can participate. Essentially, if your dog has a nose, he can play this game. While certified search and rescue and detection dogs have very demanding jobs, K9 Nose Work® does not place the same sort of physical demands on dogs or handlers. While the sport does borrow from detection skills training, it does not demand the same physical and mental stamina and endurance required of detection dogs for long, difficult searches. Neither are handlers presented with the same levels of liability and pressure. Many companion dogs and sport dogs share the same sniffing skills of a detection dog, but are not really suited to that life. K9 nose work allows the handler to tap into those skills to provide a great outlet for the dog’s natural abilities.
The sport requires a human team member who enjoys the simple pleasures of seeing his/her dog have a good time. The most challenging task for the handler is to learn to give up “control” of the dog and learn to read what the dog is telling the handler with his behavior.
Very minimal equipment and supplies are needed to get started in K9 nose work. You’ll need rewards—toys or treats—and a number of cardboard boxes to start.
Owners of fearful, shy, and reactive dogs sometimes find nose work classes are a great opportunity to take their dogs to a class. This is because one dog is worked at a time. This allows the dog to concentrate on the task rather than often overwhelming environmental factors. Dogs as young as six months are eligible to compete in K9 Nose Work® events.
Here’s a video of a NACSW NW2 Container search in Orangevale, CA September 2022:
Video provided by Nosey Paws Video Services.
“SCENT WORK” (AKC)
In 2017, AKC developed its own program to allow dogs to compete in sniffing sports. All dogs must be AKC registered or registered with the PAL or Canine Partners Program to compete.
AKC’s approach is different in that titles are earned for each element, Containers, Interiors, Exteriors, and Buried. Three qualifying scores in an element earns the title for that element i.e. Scent Work Container Novice (SCN). When titles are earned in all 4 elements for that level, Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, and Masters, then the overall level title is earned, i.e. Scent Work Novice (SWN) The AKC program allows a team to trial but not necessarily spend an entire day at a trial and titles can be earned in areas of strength while the team works towards proficiency in other areas.
For more information on AKC Scent Work, visit https://www.akc.org/sports/akc-scent-work.
OTHER “NOSEY” SPORTS
TRACKING – AKC also offers tracking tests and titles in which dogs are taught to follow the scent of an individual and acknowledge finding objects dropped by that individual along the track. For more information visit: https://www.akc.org/sports/tracking/
BARNHUNT – Recognized by AKC but governed by www.barnhunt.com barnhunt allows dogs to search areas constructed of haybales to locate PVC tubes containing rats.
Other organizations offer titles in searching and finding animal antlers, following tracks laid by other animals (usually caged rats). There are many opportunities to play the sniffing game with your dog!