I think I mentioned it before, but in case I didn’t, there are four areas of nose work searches: interior, container, exterior, and vehicle search. Last week we finished our third basic nose work class which started with exterior search and ended with vehicle search. For us dogs, all nose work is fun, but exterior and vehicle searches are the most fun of all. Being outside presents a hole new can of worms as far as difficulty with the wind and various surfaces. A vehicle search is searching the exterior of a vehicle, and a vehicle can be a car, truck, trailer, bicycle, anything for transport really. In competition, there can be one to five vehicles to search depending on your level.
For our homework on this day, Mom had five hides on three vehicles and it was a windy day. Some hides were birch, some were anise, some were in metal containers, come were in straws. The vehicles we had to search were a wheelbarrow, bicycle, and an SUV. In the photos above you will notice I was concentrating on the front wheel area at first while the hide container was really on the handle. The wind was blowing in the direction handle to wheel, so the odor was traveling under the wheelbarrow and getting trapped in the wheel area. I had to check that our before I moved around and found the container on the handle.
I can search the vehicles in any order I want, but Mom should have a plan so we don’t miss anything. If I seem to have a serious desire to start on one, then normally that is where I start. I went to the bike next. I started on one side and worked my way all the way around until I found the container on the other side.
Finally I searched the SUV. Two of the three hides on the car were in a straw (they are black and about two inches long). I approached the vehicle and sniffed my way to the wheel, and then to the rim where I located the hide in the straw.
Bailie demonstrated two hides on the SUV. In the top left photo, Bailie is finding lingering odor from my previous hide that was on the rim. She moves along and finds the straw on the inside of the wheel well. She then works her way around the vehicle to the other side, sniffing along and finds the hide on the back rear door panel.
After my last post, many asked why we don’t just sit when we find the hide. I asked our instructor about this. It turns out that detection dogs sit, but they are only saying they found odor in the “area”. It could be anywhere within ten feet or so. In K9 nose work, we have to be exact. It isn’t enough to say it is in the wheel area, we need to pinpoint it down to say it is on this spoke. For this reason, we need to signal with our nose or other body signal to be precise. In the photo above, Bailie actually touched the container with her nose and is now pointing to it waiting for her reward.
Since I do a good job searching, very thorough and methodical, I strapped on my Sony Action Cam and set out to search the three vehicles for five hides. Watch how I stick close to the vehicles, sometimes I go out and come back to catch an odor because of how it travels with the wind. The bike hide is interesting as I find it, but I am on the wrong side of the wheel, so I have to figure out how to get to the container to show Mom where it is. Remember also, these hides are not meant to be real tricky, we are still learning to just find them. Now and then they will be well hidden, but for now we are learning to sniff them out and we don’t use our eyes much. They may look obvious to you, but we are going almost exclusively by scent. Sometimes you can hear my sniffing/breathing in the video. We also get rewarded after each find, so you may see Mom doing that from time to time in the video.
Now that we have completed our basic nose work courses, we will be taking fun nose work classes to practice finding hides all over the place in all four search areas and we will also be adding the third and final odor, clove. Bailie and I have our next ORT on July 2nd, hopefully we will both pass. Bailie will be trying for birch again and I will be trying for anise. We both really enjoy nose work, and it seems like I am really excelling at it. Bailie may end up being more of a tracking dog, but Mom wants her to keep on with nose work at least until she matures a bit more to see if she learns to focus better. As I always say, if you are interested in nose work, you should attend at least one class to get your dog started off in the right direction.