Category Archives: Nosework

Crap Handler

Ah, Nosework. It’s exquisitely elegant. The rules of the game are quite simple, just not easy.

Rule #1. The dog rules the game.

Rule #2. The handler must perform his or her job as assistant to the dog correctly and completely.

Yesterday, I set up two runs on my front stairs. I wanted to do them before I headed off to an appointment.

Handler Error #1. Don’t be in a hurry.

Both dogs found the hides readily, and I was pleased with my handling, which was mostly watch your dog, trust your dog, get out of the way of your dog, reward your dog.

I put them away, grabbed my purse and headed out the door.

Handler Error #2. Don’t be in a hurry.

The next morning, I reached into a jacket pocket and brought out a hide. Hmmm. Went to the Nosework kit to check. Yup. Missing two hides. I remembered that Zeke last night had gotten into my closet and dragged out the jacket. Hmmmm. Thankfully, I hadn’t said anything to him, but had just closed the door of the room.

Horror. Maybe he’d EATEN the hides? Nah, the Schip, maybe, but not a Cattle dog.  But where were they?

I hunted through the closet and the room.

Husband says, why don’t you ask the dogs to find them? Thanks, dear.

Zeke searches for a few moments and then stops and looks at me. I give up and walk into the kitchen. Zeke continues to the back door and sits. I follow. The light goes on. Could I have committed the BIG Nosework no no?

I go out the door to yesterday’s search area and yes indeed, there remain the two hides I left in place, because I was in too much of a hurry.

Thanks, Zekie, you little genius.

Must revisit Rule #2.


Nosework Class #3

Zeke had a great third class. He hunted well and seemed calmer for both runs, although his second run was more relaxed. 

When we get home he’s really charged and wants to tug and play. I thought nosework was supposed to tire him out! 


Ah, wait.

Maybe it was a sugar rush from all those treats.

Zeke’s first Nosework class…

Well, I’m raising a well deserved glass of wine to myself and my Zekemeister. Just got home from his first Nosework class with Donna Toews. Brand new scary environment, brand new scary people, lions and tigers and bears, oh my!  

Zeke came into the building highly charged with the environment and the distractions. At the entrance to the room, I changed his Gentle Leader to the harness and let him have his head (on leash of course)  His body was all cattle dog slinky and his tail stayed firmly tucked, but after a little exploration of the room (a doggie daycare no less) he headed for the boxes, which had been preloaded with goodies. Soon he was hunting…albeit nervously keeping an eye on that lady who kept tossing them into the boxes. 

When I went out to the car to get him for his next run, his tail was wagging! He was much more confident the second time. 

I am so pleased that even though he was scared, he didn’t lose control. First impressions mean everything for Zeke. If he gets off on the wrong foot with a person, or an environment it’s very difficult for him to forget.  


K9 Nosework

Nosework is a great new dog activity that was developed in the last few years by professionals in the dog detection field. They decided to share their dog and handler skills with the broader pet-owning population through a trialing sport they dubbed “K9Nosework”

Even if you don’t want to do official trials and advance through the various levels, it’s an outstanding way of learning to better ‘read’ and understand your dog. Nosework games can be played with a minimum of equipment (cardboard boxes) and in a wide variety of locations, indoors and out. For our climate, it’s an ideal way of keeping your dog’s brain well exercised while staying out of the winter rains.

Here’s a short clip of Zeke hunting for two ‘hides’. The odor he is learning to search for is called “birch”. I have paired a tasty treat along with the birch odor, to make sure he is promptly rewarded for his finds.