Why there is No Nose-to-Nose in Nose Work

BamBam waits patiently in his crate away from the search area in Nose Work class

Group dog training classes are always fun and entertaining in addition to being useful on several different levels. Watching other dog/owner teams work out some of the same issues you are facing is both comforting and educational.


For new nose work students one of the first eye-opening things about an official K9 Nose Work ® class (if taught by an instructor certified by the National Association of Canine Scent Work) is that all dogs must be crated or safely secured away from the scent field when it is not their turn to work. The dog that is working, does so with just his owner and the instructor involved, and all of the other owners are encouraged to watch and learn while their dogs are sequestered away from the search area. Many people who take a nose work class have taken dozens of other training classes where the dogs and owners stand in close proximity to one another and mix and mingle. Not so in nose work classes, and here’s why:


Focus. In order for dogs to learn the ins and outs of searching, setting up an environment that is free from distractions is key. Dogs quickly learn to hunt for primary rewards or target scents by limiting their exposure to just that when it’s their turn to sniff. A bit of down time in between searches gives the dog time to let what just happened sink in and positively impact future searches.


Consistency. When participants are all working from the same script, things flow much more smoothly. Adherence to the same set of guidelines makes it easy for owners of reactive dogs, shy dogs, all sorts of dogs to join in without the fear of a negative experience. Since dogs are not to touch noses or get too close to one another while coming and going, the pressure is reduced for both ends of the leash and drop-in clients from other areas can expect the same positive experience in classes with this structure.


Performance. Many people who take nose work classes want to progress to competing in the sport, so each search experience is very important. A dog that is searching and working diligently on hunting skills may completely lose track if a dog/owner team suddenly appears in the doorway to the training studio. Making each search experience the best it can be for the dog and the owner is a main tenant of the sport.


Safety. As dogs progress in the sport, searches are on and off leash in various locations with a myriad of environmental factors indoors and outdoors. The best way to prevent an accident from happening is not to be there! By that of course I mean that if your dog is safely crated, they cannot get into an altercation with another dog. Safety is a big priority in nose work, as is having FUN, but in that order.


A positive side effect of this policy is that your dog will learn how these classes work. They will learn that they wait in their crate and then they get to search and have fun. A little bit of patience and impulse control can’t hurt, so I encourage you to look into this sport and be ready for “No Nose-to-Nose in Nose Work” if you do!


An excellent source of information about K9 Nose Work® is the National Association of Canine Scent Work, LLC® (NACSW™).



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