Bailie and I are in the middle of our nose work three class which is exteriors and vehicles. Nose work involves four search areas, interiors, containers, exteriors, and vehicles. Switching from interior to exterior searches is like entering a new world, and a much more difficult, yet exciting world. The first two weeks we did some real easy searches outside the place we did interior nose work. We needed to learn to search outside, and to ignore all the outdoor distractions. Last week we went to the Stone Overlook at the Big Rivers Regional Trail to have class. This added a ton of variables including planes overhead, cars, tons of bicyclists, walkers, and dogs we did not know.
Aside from the distractions, wind is the biggest variable in exterior searches. You have upwind, downwind, crosswinds, and then there is the way wind travels over and/or through obstacles. We did well at our class that night, so we started searching in our yard. Mom put out hides in the three different wind directions. We started with paired searches (meaning a treat is on top of the odor tin) for our first run and then moved on to just the tins with odor.
Not only does Mom have to read us dogs, she has to figure out how the wind is affecting where the odor travels. Just Mom’s position can cause the wind with the odor to change direction, walls, or trees can cause changes, or the ground depending on if it is dry, wet, hot, or damp.
Downwind is usually makes finding the hide easier, but if several hides are in close proximity, it can also confuse the nose of us dogs.
Often times, especially if there is more than one hide, we will make a mental note of a hide but blow past it to get to another that has a stronger odor.
The wind can also trick us so we are headed the wrong way, but then we catch the correct odor and we will make a head flick or a sudden u-turn. Mom needs to understand the air conditions to know why we are going the wrong way and then to catch us turning to go in the correct direction. It sounds complicated and it is. Mom has to work with Bailie and I individually so we learn to understand what is going on with each other.
Mom made a video of Bailie doing a quick three hide search with a crosswind, bushes/trees, and cold rocks. She chose Bailie, because of the four videos we took, hers was the best to show the most aspects of an exterior search. Above is a quick diagram of the search area in the video. We always have a starting line which we mark with two flags. We have to start between the flags. See how Bailie finds the first hide immediately, they she heads towards the second hide but suddenly goes the wrong way. Just as quickly she catches the correct odor again and turns to find the second hide. On the third hide you can clearly see how she uses her nose, not her eyes to find the hide. Humans think we see it and “cheat”, but the truth is, we may see it but we really follow our nose. Every time we find a hide we also get a treat to reinforce our behavior. Our start word is “Such” which is pronounced “Zuke” (German for search). Along the way if we need encouragement Mom uses “Find it”. The point of these searches is not to trick us or make it real hard. We are just learning to find exterior hides, ignore the distractions, and understand the environmental factors outdoors.
Nose work is a great sport for dogs of any breed, mix, or age. I do suggest you take a class in your area for proper instruction to get you started. I am not an instructor, and am only giving a quick overview of what it is all about.
I’m joining the FitDog Friday Blog Hop hosted by SlimDoggy, Peggy’s Pet Place and To Dog With Love! Share your story with others and find fun, new fitness ideas too!
Reilly & Denny says
that sounds like lots of fun …we have seen quite a few doggies doing this lately
It is a fairly new sport, that started on the east and west coast and is now available in most areas, so I think it is just catching on.
It is a blast! We always get so excited when Mom says nose work!
SlimDoggy (@MySlimDoggy) says
Great video of Bailie – love how she circled back with her nose in the air to pick up the scent. I can see that they use their nose not their eyes when we play ‘find the food’ with our guys. It’s not as structured as your class, it’s just for fun, but they can go right past a treat in front of their eyes because they are on the trail of something. Thanks for joining the Hop.
Last night we started vehicle searches and it was so obvious to Mom that we use our nose as we looked right at the canister and kept going with our noses. Mom loves those moments when we catch the scent and turn the best. It is fun to see.
Working hard. Great job.
Working hard on being nosy 😉
I admire those dogs and handlers who are able to do this. I can only imagine how much more difficult and distracting it is moving from inside work to outdoors.
Last night was real hard as we started vehicle searches. It was a new place with a new search area, next to a wooded area, a dumpster and garbage cans not far away. It took Bailie and I a while to get our focus, but we need to train in different areas so we learn that searching is the priority when we have our harness on and her our commands. Mom says she is the weakest link in the chain, but she is trying hard to understand and work with us.
Once we get it that we are doing nose work, then we are pretty good at ignoring distractions, but we need to always practice and have new distractions.
Maria Sadowski says
Oh wow, you girls are sure working hard, and you’re so good at it! We would be, “Oh, look a squirrel” “Oh, look, a guy on a bike” “Oh look…” =)
M. K. Clinton says
You girls are really doing great. I am proud of your nose work. Maybe we can play Hide and Seek or I Smell together someday. My nose keeps me busy sniffing things but just because a Basset has to do what a Basset has to do. Awesome video, Bailie!
We always have our noses down looking for critters and stuff, it is just what us hounds do, so you are no different. There is so much to learn, but we sure enjoy it!
I think this sounds like a lot of fun. Ace seems to really like using his nose (more than some dogs?) and I think he has some sort of hound in his heritage. His mixed-breed DNA test suggested there could be some dachshund, which is kind of funny if you ask me, but who knows! He and I would enjoy taking a class like this at some point.
Keep up the good work!
Every dog starts out with the basics of finding treats in boxes, it is then up to you if you want to go on to odor, and the if you want to compete. We want to go all the way, so we will see. it is tons of fun, but lots of work.
Molly The Wally says
Wow it does sound more complicated. Not sure if we could do that in our park. Methinks would end up in a first come first get with all the other dogs. Have a fabulous Friday.
Best wishes Molly
You have to have a small section that you are working in and ask others to stay out for 20 mins or so while you practice. The people and dogs are good distractions to work through.
Bravo Emma & Bailie! I agree with you, nose work is a great way to stay fit together with your dog. We will do it too, when my mom feels better, she has an ouchie on her knee from running today (she is a drama queen).
My mom has had tire problems (foot) from running for a couple years now, but she just runs anyway. There isn’t a whole lot of moving around with nose work which is why it is a great life long sport. Bailie will start tracking in August and that will be lots of movement.
Will and Eko says
Luckily you guys are much smarter than me, I’m tired just thinking about all that work! Very cool to follow along as you guys progress. In searches, both outdoor/indoor, how much instruction can a person give the dog, or is the person only supposed to respond when a scent has been found?
We get the search command to begin and then unless we are hung up on something, nothing more. If we seem to be off track, Mom might say find it, but we try to keep verbal out of it and use movement instead. Nose work is supposed to be “obedience free” where dogs do what dogs were made to do. Too much chatter is confusing. When we find it then Mom will say “alert” and “finished”, but that is it. No tugging on the leash either, just gentle walking and guiding if it is needed, of course, paying attention that the human doesn’t block any scent stream. It is harder for Mom than for us, but we are learning.
I agree it must be so difficult with all the distractions. Mom doesn’t though because once I catch a smell I can’t be distracted at all! Love Dolly
Bailie and I had no problem at the park, we were on it. Last night for vehicles it was tough because vehicles were new, there was a woods and trash bins nearby. It took a couple runs before we got our focus. It will be better next week.
Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady says
Nose work is definitely impawtant. We don’t do enough of it, although I know we should be. The dogs love it, and it is great for mentally stimulating them!
ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
We are worn out after a 90 minute class, but super happy too!
It's Dog or Nothing says
I want to get Mauja into a nose work class, but there aren’t any where we live. Hopefully, next time we move it’ll be to a more active community and we can find her a class!
There aren’t many around here either. It is still a pretty new sport, just getting to the middle of the country in the past few years.
That looks like lots of fun.
Millie and Walter
It is fun and we get lots of treats for just sniffing!
That is pretty cool!!!! Have a pawesome weekend!!!!
Thanks, you too. We love our nose work.
I can only imagine how difficult that is because my nose goes nuts just when the windows are open!
Yep, the world is full of wonderful odors, we have to pin point the right one.
Ann "Paws" Staub says
Wow who would have thought that the wind could cause such confusion! I have a question I wonder if you know the answer to. One day, I was driving home from work after shaving a really hairy dog and the police pulled me over for something really stupid. I think they were looking to harass me because the police in this county are notorious for that. Anyways, they wanted to search my car and it was extremely hot, I had no AC and I wanted to go home so I said no. I have nothing to hide but I have the right to say no so I did. So they called their K9 unit to sniff my car. The dog circled and sniffed my car at least 10 times, probably a lot more than that. Finally they told me the dog alerted at my driver’s side window. I wonder if that’s a normal amount of circling and sniffing… or did the handler just make the dog alert? It’s always bugged me. Still there was nothing ever even in the car. Unless the dog I had just shaved had a scent on him.
I’m guessing the dogs were trained for drugs. It would be normal to circle a few times just because we don’t always catch things on the first try. There are also false alerts which is what happened with Bailie on her ORT test. For us Birch is a scent in chewing gum, so we might alert to gum rather than the Birch hide. K9 dogs and their handlers should be well enough trained to avoid false positives most of the time and ten trips around the car is a bit excessive unless there was a specific search method they were using. That would just be our best guess.
Bailie did a great job with that search. The NW class we took was so informal, I wish we had somewhere to get into the real nitty gritty of it. The last night of class we did go outside but the search area was very small. Not outdoors like you showed, more a ring of objects that were outside, I may start working Delilah on this at home. I’ve been so bad about doing things with/for her, since I’ve been so busy with Sampson.
Bailie does look like she’s enjoying herself.
It is quite time consuming, but it is worth it to see us improving. We started vehicles last night, so now we have all four areas and we need to keep them all going all the time which means lots of practice times two with two dogs, but it is worth it. There is informal nose work where all you ever search for is treats and that is just for fun. We really want to compete, so we are in for the long haul with classes.
Cathy C. Bennett says
Fascinating. When the Boys were testing for their Therapy Certifications a few weeks ago – we met a lady with her Golden Retriever. They were waiting to use the room for nose work (interior), thanks to you Emma, I could speak to the lady somewhat intelligently. So proud of Bailie, she did a paw some job!
Awesome! I love helping pet parents sound intelligent 😉 Believe me, a year ago Mom had no clue, but we are learning more and more every day!
Hi folks. It's BJ Pup says
You two are really focused you keep your noses to the ground. mom say I have the attention span of gnat.
As long as you life span is longer than that of a gnat, I wouldn’t worry too much 😉
Woof Woof Mama (@WoofWoofMama) says
How very cool! Great job you guys!!! Daisy loves when I hide a treat in the living room and then call her in to come “find it” but I don’t think she could handle all of the distractions involved in an outdoor setting or formal classroom setting. She likes to make up her own rules as she goes along (she’s her daddy’s girl for sure!)
Honestly, we do much better in a class environment. For a dog it is fun but it is work and working at home can be tough at times. Every dog is different, but most do better at a class than at home.
Alfie Entlebucher (@AlfieEntle) says
Rooooo I didn’t know you girls are bi-lingual! How pawsome is that. The command in German, the praise in English! I wonder which language is in use when you’ve been naughty ( I can guess!) *waggy tail*. You’ve given my human ideas now though – she wants to use her Swedish search command which sound MUCH cooler than English!
Pawsome to see Bailee searching – she is really cute though, so its distracting for me to watch and learn at the same time! *Waggy tail*
I have been allowed to join in for some outdoor searches with my instructor even though I’m not officially done with my beginners class – its because I’ve been playing ‘find it’ with toys and treats outdoors for ages already as play sessions and I can focus really well outdoors. I will write about it next week on my blog.
Mom lived in Germany for ten years, Katie was there for five and I was there for my first year, so we have lots of German in our language. It is a mix with us dogs but we don’t mind. So glad you are loving nose work. We started vehicles last night which is pretty cool too. Now we have to practice all four areas which will keep us busy! Are you using odor yet or still just treats? We are starting on our second odor now too. It is fun to see how you are doing and what your class does different from ours.
Diane Silver (@ToDogWithLove) says
Great job Bailie! That was cool to see her catch the sent and change direction. I bet it is a lot harder outside with the wind and all. I know inside, even the air conditioning or heat blowing can make a difference too.
Diane and Rocco
It is amazing what something like an electrical outlet even can do, but it is all part of training to learn to pin point that scent.
We LOVE the outdoor searches. Our class started vehicle searches last weekend, but we were out of town, so we’re hoping that we have good weather and can work on it again this weekend. It’s so fun to see how many other pups are getting involved in this at the same time Barley and I are!
It really seems to be catching on which is pawsome! We had some trouble figuring out to search the vehicle the first run or two, but then we got it and it was great! Now we have covered all four areas and just need lots of practice. We are introducing Anise, the second odor now too which is fun. Happy searching this weekend.
Jan K says
Wow, there really is a lot to it, and especially when you add all the outdoor distractions. It looked like Bailie did very well in the video.
I wonder if they even have those classes in our area. It was hard enough just finding obedience classes for Luke without having to travel too far!
Nose work is still fairly new. It started on the east and west coast and made it to the midwest a couple years ago, so it is hard to say. I would google it in your area first, or you can go to the National Association page https://www.nacsw.net/
DOGthusiast (@dogthusiast) says
Did some search and rescue work in india, and we started by hiding food. We learnt about wind and heat, and how the scent would fall down hills. It sounded far-fetched, but then we actually witnessed this happening – a piece of hot dog would be hidden 50 feet away up a hill, and the dog would pick the scent up way down the hill with no wind. The weight of the scent. Pretty cool.
That is cool! We are starting to see the power of the elements on the way odor travels and it is amazing. There is so much to learn, but Mom and us dogs enjoy learning about it. To the average person, you seem like a story teller, but it is all real stuff! Thanks for sharing!
Donna O. says
Looks like you guys did great! Glad you guys are having so much fun with your scent work. Our biggest challenge outdoors was that our Leah likes to “mark.” We call her Le-ah Pe-ah for a reason. 🙂
Our class has one boy and he is always taking pee breaks. Us girls aren’t so into the marking thing. That would be a problem, though.
Dogs N Pawz says
That is so cool!
We love it!
Hawk aka BrownDog says
That looks like quite a challenge. All the neat distracting scents must drive y’all mad! It would me!
Y’all come by now,
Hawk aka BrownDog
Part of nose work is learning to focus on the task at hand. We are good at it most of the time, but we have to add distractions all the time to keep up on it and learn to keep focused no matter what.
Ellen Shedlarz says
Much to confusing for me but it is so much fun to watch you guys to it. Well done!
It is a bit overwhelming at first, but we just keep going along and figuring it all out one sniff at a time.
Kari Neumeyer says
Nice work! My dogs will search the garage, but get confused when I try to move the hides outside. I also love the spotted markings on your back! Pretty dogs!
Our class has us make any changes real slowly. When we started exteriors, the hides were just off the sidewalk like a foot or two and were paired. The first day the farthest the hides got was about 6 ft. The second day, we started with the hides right their and paired for the first run and then gradually increased the search area and took the pairing away. The key is to always make something new real simple the first couple days or we won’t understand what you want and we will get frustrated, as you humans will too. Give it a try moving slowly and see how it goes. The goal is to succeed, not to have a super difficult task solved immediately. That is how we have learned it anyway.
Thanks for the great explanation and video. Bailie did a wonderful job! We have to deal with wind and how that can affect our set-ups. Newbies with look at a set-up and say, oh that is easy…no not with the wind and other hazards.
With odor it is amazing as just an electrical outlet that is on an outer wall causes a disturbance. Mom is learning a lot about air flow these days! It looks so easy but when you actually try it, it is not like it looks at all!
Maxwell, Faraday & Allie says
How FASCINATING! We suppose there’s no such thing as nose work for us kitties. Not that we’d agree to do it anyways. MOL!
My sisters and I are real independent thinkers, but nothing compared to cats. I don’t think nose work for cats would be a good plan 😉
Sand Spring Chesapeakes says
Very cool and you gals are doing a good job. Love the diagram! Outside is hard with so much going on. My dogs have to use their noses to when finding their birds and bumpers out in the field.
We are pretty good with focusing outdoors. Our teacher says it might be partly that we are used to tracking and finding wabbits, so if we know what we are looking for, we stick with it since it rewards when we find it. It is amazing how the dogs find bumpers since they aren’t scented, are they?
I find it amazing how many different things can change how a smell travels through the air. typist learnt all about it when she went to meet the lovely Search and Rescue guys that we support http://waggsar.wordpress.com/
Search and rescue would be so awesome, but it is a real big time commitment that we just can’t do. For us competition will have to do. It is fun learning all the ins and outs of how odor travels.