Overview of “K9 Nose Work” Classes

Dogs smell scent like we see color.  As a dog is born knowing how to use its nose, K9 Nose Work™  Classes will not teach the dog “how” to follow scent so much as we will be communicating to the dog on what specific thing we want the dog to focus those superior scenting abilities.  To do that, we will tap into your dog’s natural desire to hunt and we will positively reinforce this hunting behavior with a reward system that your particular dog loves, such as a highly-valued toy, special food and sincere praise.  K9 Nose Work™ Classes are exhilarating for both dog and handler and they can help develop confidence even in the most timid of dogs.  And, the mental exercise of searching and problem-solving is great for calming down other, more energetic or reactive, dogs.

Finally, a huge benefit of the K9 Nose Work™ Classes is the positive working relationship that develops between you and your dog when you both are out “hunting” together as a team.  And, for those handlers that love to compete, this series of K9 Nose Work™  Classes will prepare you for the new competitive Dog Sport that is taking Californiaby storm.  Check out the official “K9 Nose Work™” website to learn all about it:  http://funnosework.com/home.html   Rules and regulations can be found at the “National Association of Canine Scent Work” website:  http://www.nacsw.net/

K9 Nose Work™ Classes are broken down into seven levels:  Level I, Level II, Level III, Level IV, Level V, Level VI, Level VII, Level VIII and Level IX.  Levels VI, VIII and IX are available for those that want to focus on their competition skills.  Each Level consists of 6 1-hour weekly group sessions.  (For groups of less than 3 dogs, the class will be 1/2 hour in length).  Each dog team must participate in each Level as the information builds as the classes continue.  Therefore, with limited exceptions, Level I is a prerequisite to Level II and so forth.

Depending on how quickly the dog AND the handler master the required skills of each Level determines whether the dog team can move up to the next Level.  All dogs participating must be at least 4 months of age and be able to be walked on a leash and come when called.  All dogs will work twice each class but only one dog will be worked in the building at a time.

Level I: Introduction to Hunting (Reward Food/Toys)

Level I is where we build the dog’s desire to hunt using modern methods of positive reinforcement while simultaneously training the handler how to read their dog’s unique hunting behaviors and to pick up on those subtle signals that communicate to the handler that the dog is “working scent.”   (6-week session)

Level II:  Introduction to Different Search Venues (Reward Food/Toys)

Level II is where we continue to build the dog’s desire to hunt using modern methods of positive reinforcement while introducing the dog to different search venues.  We also will continue to train the handler how to read their dog’s unique hunting behaviors and to pick up on those subtle signals that communicate to the handler that the dog is “working scent.”  Dog teams enrolled in Level II must have completed Level I.  (6-week session)

Level III: Introduction to Odor-Birch (Pairing Reward/Odor)

Level III is where we not only strengthen the dog’s natural hunting abilities and the working relationship developing between you and your canine partner but we also communicate to the dog that one of the three specific target odors, essential oil of birch, is what we want the dog to hunt for. As many of the handlers participating in our K9 Nose Work™ Classes will want to go on to compete with their dogs, the three target odors that we will be using are the essential oils of anise, clove and birch. Dog teams enrolled in Level III must have completed Level II.  (6-week session)

Level IV: Introduction to Odor-Anise/Clove (Pairing Reward/Odor)

Level IV is where we introduce the dog to the remaining two target odors, essential oils of anise and clove. Additionally, we will continue to work on your handling skills and the dog’s ability to independently and reliability hunt for all three target odors. Dog teams enrolled in Level IV must have completed Level III and must exhibit certain minimum proficiency skills in finding the initial target odor.  (6-week session)

Level V: Different Scenting Venues (Odor)

Level V is where we continue to increase both the dog’s “dedication” to hunting for the target odors and the handler’s and the dog’s ability to work together as a team in solving progressively more challenging search problems. Dog handling techniques for on- and for off-leash work as well as search strategies will be discussed in these classes. Dog teams enrolled in Level V must have completed Level IV and must exhibit certain minimum proficiency skills in finding the remaining two target odors.  (6-week session)

Level VI: Continuing Nose Work (Odor-NW1)

Level VI is where we continue to increase the handler’s and the dog’s ability to work together as a team in solving progressively more challenging search problems for NW1. Dog handling techniques for on- and for off-leash work as well as search strategies will be further refined at this Level. Dog teams enrolled in Level VI must be on birch odor and hunting independently.  It is not necessary that the dog have a Final Response for this class.

Level VII: Final Response (Odor)

Level VI is an optional class and it is where we teach the dog to offer an independent indication which the dog will use to communicate to the handler that it has found the target odor. Our goal is to have a dog that intensely hunts and automatically indicates when it pinpoints the target odor. Dog teams enrolled in Level VI must have permission of the instructor to enroll.  (6-week session)

Level VIII: Continuing Nose Work (Odor-NW2)

Level VIII is where we continue to increase the handler’s and the dog’s ability to work together as a team in solving progressively more challenging search problems for NW2. Dog handling techniques for on- and for off-leash work as well as search strategies will be further refined at this Level. Dog teams enrolled in Level VIII must be on birch and anise odor, hunting independently and successfully titled at NW1. It is not necessary that the dog have a Final Response for this class as a Final Response is no longer a requirement to compete at the NW2 or NW3 levels.  But, you might consider enrolling in a Level VII class when offered so that you learn how to condition in a Final Response in the dog.  (6-week session or once a month depending on class configuration)

Level IX: Continuing Nose Work (Odor-NW3)

Level IX is where we continue to increase the handler’s and the dog’s ability to work together as a team in solving progressively more challenging search problems for NW3. Dog handling techniques for on- and for off-leash work as well as search strategies will be further refined at this Level. Dog teams enrolled in Level IX must be on birch, clove and anise odor, hunting independently and successfully titled at NW2. It is not necessary that the dog have a Final Response for this class as a Final Response is no longer a requirement to compete at the NW2 or NW3 levels.  But, you might consider enrolling in a Level VII class when offered so that you learn how to condition in a Final Response in the dog. (6-week session or once a month depending on class configuration)