Dog’s Eye View: The sport of canine scent detection |

Dog’s Eye View: The sport of canine scent detection

Laura Tyler/For Steamboat Today
Laura Tyler

Last month, I teamed up with Sue Sternberg to host one of the co-founders of the National Association of Canine Scent Work LLC® in a series of daylong workshops. Ron Gaunt, co-founder of the NACSW traveled to Craig to bring CNCC students and other nose work teams to a new level of understanding about just how scent moves in a particular environment. Ron has been working and training dogs in various capacities of canine scent work for many years. About 10 years ago, he joined forces with two other K9 scent detection professionals to create a program to extend this field to introduce the sport of nose work for companion dogs. And so, the NACSW was formed. They also developed a curriculum to train instructors in the methodology they have developed to make this sport companion-dog friendly.

CNCC’s advanced nose work students have been taught these methodologies and participated in these special workshops learning how scent moves, how their own dog perceives the environment during the “hunt” and how they work that odor trail to find a tiny Q-tip hidden with that special scent. Ron understands how dogs hunt and what that behavior looks like in various environments. It was skillfully taught and practiced by each student.

I am involved in the extensive instructors training program and will become certified through the NACSW at the end of this year. Throughout my dog training career, I have believed I should only teach what I train. And so Skippy, my 9-year-old rat terrier, and I have earned her first nose work title, and we are working on the next NW2 title.

All the student/dog teams in my advanced class have passed their preliminary testing to identify the odor of white birch. The other scents they must test and identify are anise and clove. Choosing these essential oil odors makes it easy to distinguish that particular scent in an environment filled with a variety of smells. And it’s a truly amazing experience to go through that learning process with your own dog. The dog learns what to “look” for with his nose, and the handler learns how to manage the environment and understand his or her dog in that working environment. That kind of teamwork and communication is exceptional.

In participating in these trials, it became evident that any dog, regardless of breed, age or size, can become a successful nose work dog. This sport is unique in that dogs that are reactive or uncomfortable in the presence of other dogs can easily learn and participate in this sport. Each dog, whether trialing or in the classroom, owns the hunt. There are no other dogs within visual range of the working dog. Nose work is a great winter activity, because you can train at home too.

There are many great activities you can put into practice with your dog. The most important part is that you are “connected and communicating” and spending quality time working together.

Laura Tyler is a certified professional dog trainer with more than 25 years of experience. She has earned associate certification through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and owns Total Teamwork Training LLC here in Northwest Colorado

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