Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nosework Seminar

Bug and I had a great weekend. We attended a Nosework Seminar on Sunday. Nosework has been written up in Whole Dog Journal before. For those of those who don't know what it is, it was developed by K9 police officers and teaches the dog to hunt/search for odors.

We started by using food in a box and doing what was called a box drill; 7 boxes with one box containing food. The dog alerts you to which box has the food in it and you open and reward your dog. We did this 3 times in a row, took a break and cycled through the other dogs then did the box drill an additional 3 times, cycled through the dogs and did it twice more.

Throughout the day things got progressively more difficult. At one point there were nearly twenty boxes scattered through the room and Bug was off leash methodically searching the boxes for the box that contained the food. After that exercise Scott, the seminar presenter, turned a table on its side, added chairs both upright and knocked over, as well as a couple of boxes. Most of the dogs went right to the boxes to search, but in this instance the food was not hidden in the boxes but behind/under furniture! We had created the box as a visual cue that the dogs need to hunt/search then we needed to teach them to look in other locations too.

We ended the day with a mock odor recognition test - which you must complete in order to be able to compete. Scott set up a horse shoe of boxes and your dog needs to alert to which box contains the food - none of the boxes were marked so you really needed to watch your dog's cues. Bug initially went by the box that contained the food without even sniffing it – it wasn’t until we were doing the horseshoe a second time that he correctly alerted to the box with food.

Eventually you get the dog off of food and introduce them to the three odors they use in competition, which are essential oils (birch, clove, and anise).

We had an absolute blast. It was really cool to watch Bug hunt and search. The seminar presenter (who is the only certified Nosework trainer on the east coast) expects that we will start having trials in our neck of the woods in June. I am definitely planning on taking a class. Bug really enjoyed it and I loved watching him figure it out.


Katrin said...

WOW! Sounds really neat! I bet some of my guys would love that game.

Jules said...

I really think they would. It was awesome to watch the dogs understand their job was to hunt and search. I really liked the trainer as well; he had really calm energy and seemed intuitive about the dogs' personalities. I feel like this is a Nosework lite review - I didn't go into that much detail, but I learned SO much and thoroughly enjoyed it - as did Bug.

Sam said...

That's really awesome. I'd love to do something like this with Marge one day. Seems so natural for the dogs to do, and really a great way to work their minds.

Jenn said...

Glad you had a good time! I would really like to get Steeler into this - he had such a great time at the seminar ... so if you have any ideas for places to rent a ring somewhere I have boxes and the essential oils if you want to play. :-) I know Ann would be interested too .... I have Steeler signed up for at least one session of classes with Scott. And my friend maria is taking his class in Boxford now - and she said she would keep me updated on the "intermediate" level class.

Jules said...

Jenn - That would be awesome. I'll e-mail you - I would REALLY like to do that. Bug enjoyed it so much.