Nose work is a scenting sport for all dogs. For SWDs, it emulates the skills necessary for hunting, tracking injured game, search and rescue and bomb detection. This is a sport you can easily train at home, at a rest stop, or just about anywhere.
This is an independent sport whose titles can be recognized as suffix titles with the AKC. For more information, visit the K9 Nose Work website.
Dogs learn how to search for a specific odor or odors and find the source. They begin by searching for their favorite food or toy reward hidden in a variety of environments, increasing the challenges and adding new search skills as the dog progresses. Most people will choose to have their dogs learn to find the target odors used in nose work: birch, anise, and clove; those looking to keep it fun searching for food or toy can still have fun and progress in the activity. Once target odors are introduced to the dog, he will search for the odor only and find its source, then get rewarded by his handler with his favorite food or toy reward.
Nose work introduces dogs to four different search elements: container, interior, exterior, and vehicles. Dogs build their hunt drive and learn foundation search skills in all four elements. Later stages of nose work introduce advanced detection and handling skills to teams. Dogs are exposed to a myriad of complex search scenarios, while continuing to condition their foundation skills. Handlers sharpen their observational skills and learn when and how to take action during a search. Teams will practice searching to the competition standards set by the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW), which includes searching for blind hides (location of hide unknown to handler), searching for multiple hides in a single search area, and, at the higher levels of competition, searching for an unknown number of hides in a search area.
Nose work is an activity that uses real-world environments and can be done almost anywhere. Every search has the potential to be a dramatically different & highly stimulating experience for both dog & handler, just by changing hide placement, or searching under different weather conditions. By participating in Nose Work with your dog, you're giving him the freedom to express and refine his natural talents, and he's giving you a glimpse into how he "sees" the world.
Some of the many benefits of Nose Work are: