Nosy Girl

Delilah’s nosework class started last night.

I was anxious, as I always am going into a new class.  There is a whole new dynamic of dogs to get used to, not to mention their owners.

Truthfully most dog owners I’ve taken classes with are pretty clueless. 

The first clue I had that there might be trouble was the three people with their dogs standing smack in the middle of the path to the entrance.

I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes and took the long route around. By the time I got to my destination, two of them had moved into the building.

One of them, took a seat right in front of the door.  With her slightly excited Goldendoodle. (Okay, I’m guessing it was a Goldendoodle, I’m not really sure, I do know she was excited though.)

Ariane was near the door and I said to her, I can’t get by that dog.

Thankfully Ariane asked the woman to step aside for a minute so I could get inside.

Boxes There was about six boxes in the center of the room

Sprite Sprite (the Goldendoodle) was first up.

Since this was the first week, we used the same box for each dog, because we didn’t want all the boxes to smell like food and confuse the dogs.  Yes, in the beginning we are using food because we know that dogs like food and they are self rewarded when they find it.

Shelby Shelby was very shy around the box, but did much better her second turn, with a little coaching from her handler.

Oakley This is Oakley, he’s a Rhodesian Ridgeback, he’s been in two of our other classes.

Ready We’re supposed to psyche the dogs up, ready? ready? ready?  Find!

Good Girl Delilah doesn’t need to be psyched up and she’s not shy.  She’s a lab, she knows when there’s food around.

The harder part is hanging around waiting for our turn and keeping her interested in me.

The second turn we had, all I said was ready?  And she lunged for the boxes. Thankfully I’m still hanging on to my winter fat which prevented me from turning into a kite.

Dee I think this will be a fun class, when we aren’t sitting around waiting.

Oakley’s companion uses the down time to work Oakley on his other commands.  She reinforces front, spin, around, peek-a-boo.  I think it’s a great idea, so I started doing that with Delilah too.  I really want to teach her peek-a-boo, it’s so cute when Oakley does it.

If you’re interested in learning more about nosework, Donna and the Dogs had a nice post up not too long ago that explained it pretty well, Nosing Around.

This is an easy game to teach your dog providing (s)he is food motivated.  It is also very tiring, so on those days when the weather doesn’t cooperate and you need to find a way to tire out your dog, this is your go to game.

  • To teach it, start with about 5 boxes of varying sizes.
  • The first couple of times you can let your dog watch you place the food, after that, they should be in another room, or distracted by someone else.
  • Rev your dog up using an excited voice…..”Are you ready, you ready to go” whatever you use when you are getting your dog excited.
  • Then give the cue, I use FIND.  You can use whatever makes sense to you.
  • Don’t lead your dog, the goal is to let your dog use their nose.  Of course, if she veers totally off course, you may want to stroll towards the box, but don’t point to it.
  • Once your dog finds the correct box, praise and drop some more treats in there.  You want them to really get the idea of what they’re supposed to be doing.

A couple of other tips:

Use one of the boxes strictly for the food, that way the scents don’t get all muddied up and confuse your dog.  If you want to make it easier on yourself, mark it food.  Your dog can’t read, right?

I’m actually going to put a plate in my box, because of Delilah’s tendency to lick everything.

Keep your dog on leash the first few times, just until they understand the game.

Vary the rooms you use to play this in, you want them to use their nose, not their memory.

Have you ever played this game with your pup? Do you think mental stimulation is as tiring as physical?

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  1. says

    Since I am a scent hound, this is right up my alley! I like to do those puzzles with food in them. I don’t think they have such a class around here but I am sure I would enjoy it!

  2. says

    Sounds like a fun class. I laughed when you said the instructor urged you to get the dogs excited to find the food. I figured that would not be an issue for Delilah! lol I bet Delilah will be really good at nose work and not just because food is involved. :)

  3. says

    this sounds like a great game, will have to give it a go. Sadly, we don’t have another room to alternate with because our other rooms are off limits in order to give our cat a safe haven when he wishes to disappear from Dakota, but we will still try it.

  4. says

    That looks like a fun class. I think a couple of the pack would do well with that type of activity. The blind ones for sure, especially if food was hidden or a cat. Love, love, love the kitties! Keep us posted on how it goes.

  5. Carol Bo dy says

    When we were volunteering at SAR, search and rescue, we taught Kayla to be all revved up to find me in the woods, and she would scream and cry, until my husband told her go find. Now whenhehas her on leash, she screams every time I

  6. says

    I am definitely going to try this with Gracie and Henri!
    I hate when people do that, stand right in the way of an entrance when you are trying to get past. I guess they think they are the only ones that matter!

  7. Sue says

    I actually have a couple of those puzzle toys that you can hide treats in. Shadow & Ducky like to play with it but Callie couldn’t care less — guess the treats aren’t stinky enough. :-)

  8. says

    I’m floored by the number of classes you have to pick from. I mean, I live in the middle of a major metro area, and I can’t find anyone here who does nosework classes. Well, except the one “Competitive Obedience” club in town, but they still use at least some physical coercion and punishment, so they don’t count.

  9. says

    Thanks for the shout out Jodi. Sorry you had a hard time getting into class. Since Nose Work is supposed to be a good sport for reactive dogs, my teacher was taught to keep all dogs that aren’t working crated or outside in a vehicle until it is their turn.

    I love working with my dogs on the scent work, but you are right, there is a lot of waiting around, especially at an actual trial from what I am told. It is also uber expensive and an all day event and non-competing dogs are not welcome there. So, I think, for me, I am going to keep it as a fun thing for my dogs and probably not compete. I say probably because hey, you just never know, right?

  10. says

    Very cool class! I’ll have to give this game a shot.

    Also, seems very cool to me that you’re allowed to use a school gym for dog training (if that’s what it is).

  11. says

    Hi Jodi,
    My babies are couch potatoes, but I’m sure I could coax them off the sofa to try this, what sounds like a fun game for me too. Loved the photos and I laughed when you said you were still hanging onto your winter fat. :-)

  12. says

    This is something I gotta read, I wanna see her progress and how’s the class.
    I’d love to get Doggy into one of these classes, but in here it’s so hard to find a place that offers something like that.
    I would have to send Doggy to Madrid or Barcelona and I couldn’t send him away alone, sure he likes the spa but that’d be different.
    You’ve got my full attention :)

  13. says

    Interesting that your class had all the dogs in the room together. Most nosework classes require the dogs to wait in a crate off site when they’re not sniffing.

    As for the watching, I loved seeing the different ways the dogs work. You can learn a lot about a dog when they do nose work.

    And definitely, mental stimulation is very tiring. Honey is able to search two floors of the house or the entire yard. But it takes her time to sniff things out.

    BTW, I wrote up a description of our first three classes here:

    I hope you convince others to try this fun activity with their dogs. And I hope you and Delilah have a great experience with it.

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