Following is a general description of what you will encounter as you and your dog progress in K9 Nose Work.
Intro to Nose Work
Dogs are introduced to the game through the use of boxes and a favorite toy or treat reward (bring a back-up toy, and plenty of treats). Handlers get to learn the most effective methods for motivating their dogs to search independently, including the power of self-rewarding, and how to reinforce the dog’s behavior at the source (hidden toy or treat).
Each dog works individually, and rests safely in his crate or car between turns. There should be no interaction or socialization between dogs at any time during K9 Nose Work class. This is to ensure that every dog has the opportunity to work and gain confidence in a distraction and stress free environment.
This introductory class must be completed to advance to the next class level. For dogs and handlers just looking to enjoy the game at their own pace, this class may be repeated many times with adjustments to the difficulty level to keep the dog challenged and engaged.
Dogs must be capable of handling confinement during the class, either crated away from their handlers or in a safe, secure, well-ventilated vehicle.
Reactive dogs with a history of human aggression can benefit from the activity of K9 Nose Work, too, but it should be enjoyed in a safe, secure environment, in the presence of people the dog is familiar with (at home with family members, with a private instructor). The group class setting and competition events may be too stressful and unmanageable for your dog and may place him and other people who participate in the activity and sport of K9 Nose Work at risk. If you're planning to join a group class contact me so that I can advise you on what is best for your dog.
Intro to Odor
Building upon the foundational skills from Intro to Nose Work, this class focuses on teaching the dogs to search for a special, target odor (one of three essential oils used in K9 Nose Work). Dogs will learn to search expanded areas more effectively, and handlers will learn valuable techniques for supporting their dogs in the search.
Prerequisite: Intro to Nose Work or instructor approval.
Continuing Nose Work
This is a class for dogs who have completed the Intro to Odor class and shown proficiency in finding the initial target odor. Dog and handler teams will continue to develop the skills required to successfully search larger areas with more difficult hide placements, with focus on the four elements of competition: container searches, interior, exterior, and vehicle searches. This course will also include introduction of the remaining two target odors.
Prerequisite: Intro to Odor or instructor approval.
Advanced Nose Work
Experienced dog and handler teams will find the challenges offered in this course highly rewarding. Dogs will be introduced to new and difficult search scenarios under the guidance of the instructor to ensure a positive learning experience. Handlers will focus on increasing their ability to support their dogs in the search through a greater understanding of the various factors affecting how scent moves.
Prerequisite: instructor approval