What is K9 Nose Work?

K9 Nose Work is a new dog sport that allows dogs to use their natural ability to recognize scents in a recreational or competitive setting. K9 Nose Work was developed by professional trainers and handlers of working scent detection dogs, who formed the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW) to promote the sport and host trials.

A dog's nose is much more senstive than a person's. Dogs have up to 220 million scent receptors in their noses, while we have only about 5 million, and the part of a dog's brain used for processing scents is about 4 times the size of the same part of a human brain.

Dogs have been taught to find live people, dead people, explosives, drugs, money, cell phones in prisons, guns and ammunition, termites, gas pipeline leaks, mold, insects that damage crops, flammable materials used to set fires, and all kinds of forbidden substances in luggage or shipping packages. It's now believed that dogs can detect some diseases, including diabetes and cancer, before the victim is otherwise aware of them.

K9 Nose Work is based on the same type of free-form searching done by drug-sniffing and bomb-sniffing dogs -- except, of course, that the dog isn't searching for anything dangerous.

Who Can Do K9 Nose Work?

You don't need a Bloodhound to excel at K9 Nose Work -- the average dog has a nose that is more than adequate to the task and simply needs to learn to recognize and find the odors used in Nose Work classes. It's a great team sport in which your dog can be a dog and be rewarded for doing something he or she is already good at, and you can relax and let your dog do most of the work.

K9 Nose Work is easy to train -- it requires very little equipment and very little setup. In class, we start out with 6 or 8 cardboard boxes and some of your dog's favorite treats. You can practice indoors or outdoors, so it's great for hot summer days and cold, rainy winter evenings. You could spend just 10 minutes on a training session, so it doesn't take up your whole evening.

In class, and, if you want to compete, in trials, only one dog works at a time, so it's a good option for dogs that are insecure, fearful, easily distracted, or reactive to other dogs. Dogs of any size, from the smallest Chihuahua to the largest Great Dane, can participate. It doesn't require the prolonged focus that obedience or tracking demands or the kind of athletic ability needed for agility, so you can do it with young dogs and older dogs. Training can be done in a small and safe area, so dogs and handlers with physical limitations can participate. Both purebred and mixed breed dogs can compete in Nose Work trials.

Pam Rogers is a NACSW Certified Nose Work Instructor.

For schedules and availability, E-mail or call Pam at 432-8863