Exterior nose work searches can be real tricky. Remember, there are four search elements in nose work – interior, exterior, vehicle, and container. Each element has their own challenges, but especially in a climate like Minnesota, exterior searches can be real difficult because many folks simply don’t practice outside in the winter months.
What are some of the challenges with Exterior searches?
- Your dog can’t use a search area as a bathroom, this can be tough for some dogs to comprehend
- Wind can really change the flow of the odor
- Temperature changes the way odor travels
- Distractions such as birds, rabbits, wild animal droppings, trash, all of which must be ignored
- Environmental distractions such as trains, airplanes, cars, people
- We practice outdoors all year, but many people in cold climates don’t get out in the winter which means there are several months without practicing exterior searches
How can you best overcome the challenges of exterior nose work searches?
- Set up a potty routine, your dog should know to potty, then go to the search area and “work”
- Practice in all weather conditions, you never know what the weather will be on the day of a trial
- Try different hide positions – in snow, in water, in a sun puddle, in a shady spot, in a windy spot, if your dog is having difficulties, try pairing some hides for motivation (it really does help)
- Take your dog to do nose work in as many different environments as you can so they learn to work wherever they need to work – this week at school, I had a wabbit cross my search area right before I started my search. I tried so hard to search, but my wabbit instinct kept winning me over, it was a great learning experience even though I couldn’t overcome my urges this time
- Get out in the cold and snow of the winter as odor behaves differently in cold and snow, get out in the spring thaw as the defrosting natural smells can wreak havoc on a dog’s concentration, get out in the heat as it presents a whole different set of challenges
- The hide placement doesn’t have to be real difficult, make it easy so your dog will adjust to searching in the exterior environment, increase the difficulty as your dog feels comfortable
I met with some of my search buddies the other day and did some fun exterior searches. It was cold and windy with some snow still around – all factors creating challenges for searching. Mom finds my first search so funny. Why did I choose the most difficult path to the odor? Who knows! The second search was a simple bench hide. As always, I recommend you take some nose work classes. Most classes will take field trips to different locations to practice. If you have a nose work dog, make sure you get out and practice your exterior searches in as many places as you can. It will pay off when you enter a trial!
Speaking of trials, Bailie and I are headed to Iowa the beginning of April for two days of nose work trials. Bailie will attempt to earn her NW1 (Nose Work Level 1) Title the first day, and the second day she will try for her L1V (Level 1 Vehicle Element) Title and I will try for my L2V (Level 2 Vehicle) Title. The trial is being held on a farm which is one reason why we are working on exteriors a lot right now!
I’m co hosting the FitDog Friday Blog Hop with SlimDoggy, and To Dog With Love! Please join us on Fridays to share your fitness stories with others, find new ways to have fun, and new fitness ideas too! Tell your friends to stop by as well – fit dogs are healthier, happier dogs!