Thursday, June 11, 2015

Nosey Dog

"The sense of smell in all dogs is their primary doorway to the world around them."
 ~Robert Crais

     Are you looking for a new activity for your dog? One that you can have fun playing and allowing your dog to just be a dog?  Are you looking for a sport for your reactive, fearful, or hyper dog? Look no further, NACSW K9 Nosework is a sport that is beneficial to every kind of dog. The NACSW was formed by three detection dog trainers in 2005. It has just recently gained popularity, and competitions are starting to pop up more and more. Whether you compete or just play this sport, it will bring out the best in your dog while bringing you closer with your best friend, more than any other sport you may have tried.
     You may be asking yourself, “How in the world does a sport achieve this?" The answer is simple, K9 nosework builds up the canine's confidence by allowing them to pay attention to their innate instincts and enjoy the thrill of the chase and independent hunting. K9 Nosework can help them come out of their shell in ways that will amaze you.
     Odin and I recently attended a seminar by Beth Bishop, which my UKC Muskegon Lakeshore Training and Obedience (MLOTC) offered. Odin absolutely loved this seminar and gives this sport four paws up! I think the reason Odin loved it so much is because this sport allows the dogs to train us, instead of us training them. It creates the expectation of the hunt, which dogs innately have. In the wild, dogs are born with the desire to find prey. This sport allows the dogs to abandon themselves to the hunt and forget that they may be surrounded by a room full of people. Odin is normally afraid of slippery floors and crowds and forgot all about them while playing this game.
Odin waits not so patiently for his turn to go find more treats in the boxes 

     I recall reading awhile back, if you compare a dogs olfactory system to a humans,  a human's would be the size of  a postage stamp size , whereas a dog's would be the size of  a football field. When we attended the seminar Beth reiterated that fact by stating, if you walked into someone's house and they had stew cooking on the stove, your senses would say, "mmmm smells like stew" whereas a dog's sense would say," I smell, 1 lb. round meat, 1/2 lb. of carrots, 1 stalk celery etc." A dog can also smell a scent that is 2 weeks old.
Rue above and Lilo below following their nose

     Now that you know why this sport is beneficial to the dog's natural instincts, let's touch on what the sport entails. The sport is introduced by  just playing with every day normal various sized boxes, which you pick just one or two to put extremely high value, strong smelling food (such as liverwurst, fish, etc.) into only a couple of the boxes. Make sure you use the same boxes for the treats, as the dog will smell them long after they are removed. You start out by just arranging an assortment of five to ten boxes, and just let the dog find the treats on their own with no direction from you. Beth explained to us we must keep up their motivation by making it easy. After this no longer becomes a challenge you can start making it harder by stacking boxes, turning them sideways and hiding in different parts of your house for about a month. The next step is moving the boxes outside, where there is whole new realm of smells for them to differentiate between. After this game is mastered, you can move to getting little tins such as altoids containers and punching holes in them with food in it, and start the game all over. Eventually different scents such as birch, anise, cloves and myrrh are incorporated on q-tips in containers, and you add the scents in the containers instead, and set food in box with container. Your final step is to just have them find the scent and give food as soon as they find the scent. There are many little details, which I do not mention here or this article would be a book. You can learn these details once you start researching or practicing this sport.
     Odin says, "Just like Toucan Sam used to say, 'Follow your nose, it always knows.' and let your dog join in the fun."
Casey and Bonnie (above) and Bella Rae (below ) enjoying the game.

      For information on this sport in Michigan contact Beth Bishop:  phone 517-641-7345, or email . If you live outside of Michigan feel free to check out this website
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