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Learn About Nose Work!

So you want to learn more about Nose Work? We're so glad you're here! No previous dog-training experience is necessary. Your dog won't need a prior understanding of scent detection or anything like that. This is FUN nose work, not K9 police nosework. The instructor shows you how to hide the scent, you hold the leash, and your dog does the work he was born to do.


K9 Nose Work is an amazing sport governed by the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW). Three detection dog trainers created K9 Nose Work: Amy Herot, a professional trainer and certified detection dog handler and trainer; Jill-Marie O’Brien, CPDT-KA, an experienced trainer and certified detection dog handler; and Ron Gaunt who was a police dog trainer for 12 years and then ran a private security firm. Taking into consideration some of the beginning skills involved in K9 detection work, the founders started classes in LA in 2006 to help dogs learn to use their most significant attribute – their sense of smell!

How We Teach Nose Work

We begin by teaching the dog about the hunt! The training involves simple exercises where dogs search boxes for a treat or toy. Eventually, dogs start searching through different objects with different distractions and become more confident and skilled at this sport.

The next step is to teach the dogs to search for specific odors such as birch, anise, or clove. For this, handlers use small cotton swabs soaked with essential oil. Before long, dogs are searching indoors, outdoors, vehicles, and all kinds of containers. As you progress with training, dogs begin to indicate when they have found the scent, and handlers learn to understand when the dog is alerting to a found scent.

Our introductory class will introduce your dog to different search scenarios and environmental distractions and surfaces. We always keep fun and the motivation to hunt at the top of our list!  This class will also introduce handlers to this incredible world of nose work and will give them the foundation they need to compete (if they desire) in any venue.


A Sport For Many Types of Dogs

One of the things we love most about this sport is that it can work for any dog as it works with their innate ability to use their nose. The way the classes are structured, only one dog searches at a time. This means that even fearful or reactive dogs can be successful and that they can safely and comfortably participate in these classes. In addition to the breeds that might come to mind immediately like German Shepherds, Labradors or hounds; we’ve successfully trained all kinds of dogs including Shih Tzus, Pugs, and Chihuahuas to compete in this sport. Nose work also does not require a lot of equipment or space. You can easily get started at home with just a few simple items. This sport is appropriate for the pet dog owner who wants to have fun and give their dog more mental stimulation. This is one of the few sports that can be successfully achieved with a sight-impaired dog!

For those who love to compete, dogs can currently compete in five levels in NACSW including NW1, NW2, NW3, Elite & Summit plus Element Trials.  In addition, AKC now offers Scent Work.

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