On Saturday, Maya and I attended our first nose work trial. This is Maya’s “retirement sport” that we started after she stopped competing in agility. The idea is to train the dog to find and indicate the odor of specific essential oils (birch in this case) in a variety of environments. To earn a Nose work 1 title, the dog must successfully search an interior, exterior, the outside of 1-3 vehicles, and a group of containers (boxes) within a set period of time on the same day.. At the higher levels, conditions become more challenging and a wider variety of challenges can be presented.
This sport is in many ways a natural fit for a scent hound. Most PBGVs come equipped with plenty of hunt drive. While nose work doesn’t provide the reinforcement of the chase like rabbit hunting does, Maya is happy to be paid with treats when she finds odor. And, how cool is this, you can carry treats with you in competition to reward right away when your dog successfully alerts. Hound people, you really need to give nose work a try- Maya was the only representative of the hound group out of 41 dogs competing.
Here are the videos of Maya’s vehicle and exterior searches. We’ll be practicing more advanced searches and working with anise as while as birch now to get ready for the next level. Juno is also learning nose work and hopes to be following in Maya’s paw prints soon.