K9 Nose Work, often referred to as dog scent training, is an emerging canine sport that mimics search-and-rescue activities. In this engaging canine pursuit, dogs use their remarkable sense of smell to locate hidden scents in different environments, indoors and outdoors. The training begins by encouraging your dog to use their intense sense of smell to find a favoriteĀ treat that is paired with a specific odor inside of a tin. This small tin is then placedĀ inside variousĀ boxes. As your dog becomes more proficient, they begin to search for specific target odors without the pairing of food or treats.Ā The search area expands from basic boxes to entire rooms, carsĀ and outdoor locations.
This sport was conceived in 2006 by three professional trainers who work with certified detection dogs. Their idea was to bring the joy of scent work to everyday companion dogs.
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What are the benefits of dog nose work?
Dog nose work offers several advantages, including physical exercise and mental stimulation. It encourages dogs to refine their natural hunting and scenting abilities. For dog owners, it provides an advanced understanding of canine behavior by teaching them to interpret subtle cues in their dogs'Ā body language. Handlers are trained to quietly support their dogs.
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Which dogs can participate in scent training?
The beauty of nose work is that almost any dog can participate, including older dogs or those with physical limitations that restrict more vigorous exercises. Nose work can boost the confidence of shy or fearful dogs and can help high-energy dogs learn to focus. A 15 minute intense nose work session is the equivalent amount of exercise as a slow paced, casual hour long walk for your dog.Ā 
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What equipment or supplies are needed for nose work?
One of the great things about nose work is that you don't need much equipment. To get started, all you need are some tasty treats, cardboard boxes, and, of course, your dog's nose.
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Are there classes for nose work training?
Absolutely. You can visit the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW)Ā website to find information about nose work workshops and certified instructors in your area. Instructors work with one dog at a time, which is suitable for dogs that may not get along with other dogs.
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Why is Nose Work Dog Training Different Than Other Classes?
In traditional group training classes, dogs may be anxious or overstimulated, making it challenging for them to learn. In nose work classes, dogs search individually, allowing dogs with various behavioral issues to concentrate and learn. This individual approach enables dogs to channel their energy, facilitating better learning. Natural behaviors, often seen as "uncivilized," are encouraged as they are part of scenting and searching activities.
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Starting Nose Work Training With Your Dog
For beginners:
Encourage your dog to explore multiple open boxes to find the scent of a hidden reward, usually a treat paired with a specific odor.

As soon as your dog finds the odor/treat combo, praise your dog and give them additional treats to reinforce the search drive they have just demonstrated. Make sure to give them the additional treats at the source of the odor so the dog connects the fact that THIS odor in THIS exact spot is what I am being treated and praised for.
Gradually increase the difficulty of the search by changing variables like closing the boxes, raising the hide's height, and introducing new objects and distractions..
As your dog grasps the game, remove the treat from the box and only leave the original odor in its tin.

For competitive participants:
Handlers aiming to test their nose work skills can earn titles in the K9 Nose WorkĀ sport through trials organized by the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW). To participate, dogs must pass the Odor Recognition Test (ORT). Competition elements include box drills, interior building, exterior searches, and vehicle searches.
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