For a human, I'm pretty sensitive to smells. I am easily overwhelmed by a wide variety of odors, ranging from the flowering basswood tree in my backyard to the perfumes that people wear to the laundry detergent aisle in stores. But my nose is nothing compared to my dog's; while I probably have around 5 million olfactory receptors, she has somewhere around 220 million!
Despite the fact that we dog people know that our canine's ability to use their nose is far superior to ours, we don't usually let them engage in their natural desire to sniff and search out smells. Still, it's important that they get a chance to do just that, which is why I was so excited to have the opportunity to attend a K9 Nose Work seminar recently. This seminar, presented by Jill Marie O'Brien and Kimberly Buchanan, introduced participants to the basics.
So, what is K9 Nose Work? Well, primarily, it's an activity. When the folks behind K9 Nose Work held the first class in 2006, they just wanted to have some fun and explore what their dogs could do. As more and more people discovered it, it naturally evolved, and now there are even organized competitions held by the National Association of Canine Scent Work.
The cool thing about K9 Nose Work is that it is suited to all dogs, even those with special needs. Reactive dogs, shy dogs, dogs with low impulse control, even dogs currently living in a shelter setting can benefit from this activity. It tends to build confidence, act as an awesome stress buster, release the pressure on the dog, help dogs focus, and burn both mental and physical energy!
My favorite part of the seminar was watching all the dogs work. In the morning, Jill and Kimberly gave a presentation, and the afternoon was devoted to working spots. It was really cool to watch the shy dogs become more secure and confident and the hyper dogs to settle down and focus on the game. And they aren't kidding about it being a good workout- Maisy was so tired when we got home that she chose to sleep in favor of eating supper!
This seminar was an introduction to the activity of K9 Nose Work, and in my next post, I'll share some of what I learned (and what I'm doing with Maisy now). After that, I'll touch briefly on the next steps, and talk a little bit about competition. In the meantime, though, I'd love to hear from any of my readers that are doing Nose Work with their dogs. How did you get started? Where is your dog at now? And what benefits have you seen from doing it?