Searching Anywhere and Everywhere… The Key to Nosework Trial Preparation

The ability to search anywhere and everywhere begins with ROUTINE and VARIETY. The sheer range of areas that we get to search is part of what makes this the coolest sport in town.

In trialing, I've searched fairgrounds, stadiums, and even Victory Lane at the Chicagoland Speedway!

Every time we step to the line, it's something new, something different, and an entirely new and unique experience. That newness isn't just for us, but also for our dog. So how in the world do we prepare our dogs to search anything and everything?

The answer is ROUTINE and VARIETY.

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Challenge Builds Commitment: A Nosework Case Study

What builds more intrinsic value for you? Something that you can achieve easily or something that you have to work for?

I did a poll recently and 75% of people leaned towards more challenging scenarios as builders of value. Of course there are modifiers, and for most people it isn't an either / or, however the trend was clearly in support of more challenge vs less.

In fact, Psychology supports this!

Achievement is tied to interest… which is associated with feel-good feelings. These feel good feelings also create a strong tie to memory and retention. While not a perfect comparison, we can extrapolate this to how our dog's feel when being trained.

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Do you want a more efficient search dog?

Sure! Who wouldn't want their dog to find all the hides more accurately and in a faster time? The big question is…. CAN YOU help your dog to be more efficient? After all, doesn't it just depend on the dog finding the scent cone and following Birch back to the hide? 

That was a little tongue in cheek! 

Actually, you CAN help your dog to become a more efficient and effective searcher. The key is in creating a BALANCE between the dog's desires and the inputs that they are receiving.

The search dog lives in a constant state of conundrum. Does he chase a squirrel or smell girl-dog pee or does he go out and seek a scented Qtip? The answer depends on what pays off both with reward and intrinsic value. 

The act of searching is fun for the dog. It's kind of like sitting down to a (doable) jigsaw puzzle and finishing it while sipping on a hot cocoa. I don't know about you, but a 1,000-piece puzzle is pretty daunting to me. I am liable to look for a few edge pieces and then give up when I can't get any to connect. I'm more of a 200-piece puzzler. That is more my speed. So not only do we need appropriate puzzles for our dogs, but we have to help them work through their priorities.

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What really ARE Nosework Foundations?

So often we throw around the word, "foundations." In fact, when you hear people give advice it usually sounds something like "Just go back to foundations." Often, the advice is well intended, but it lacks substance.

The issue is that the word "foundations" is a buzzword.

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2981 Hits

The 4 D's of Nosework and Odor Obedience

 A lot of time in dog training, we hear about the 4 D's: Duration, Distance, Distraction and Diversity.

For example, in teaching Stays. Can your dog stay for a certain amount of time, at a certain distance from you, under certain distractions and in new places? It's easy to understand the 4 D's in this context. Nosework isn't any different!

In fact, the 4 D's are essential to the foundational quality of odor obedience. Let's explore!

Picture a search dog looking for narcotics. His sole focus in on finding the "dope." He works with intensity, ignoring things like dropped food. His only desire is the search. He's never been to that location, but he doesn't care; his focus is incredible. He leaves the handler because he's caught scent of some heroin in the garbage can. Now, his focus changes to the alert, signaling to the officer that he's made a find.

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