K9 Nose Work® is an activity, a sport and a teaching methodology. It was started in Southern California in 2006 by Ron Gaunt, Jill Marie O’Brien and Amy Herot as an outlet and enrichment for the companion dog. The first officially sanctioned trial was in January of 2009.
The activity and sport involve the use of the target odors of Birch, Anise and Clove. Search scenarios include Containers, Vehicles, Interiors and Exteriors. One must complete each search successfully in one trial to earn an NW1/2/3 title. To earn an NW3-Elite title, one must earn the NW3 three times. The Elite titling program is based on earning points. There are also Element trials with separate titling requirements, which focus on a particular level and a single search element.
The methodology of teaching K9NW begins with the dog’s primary reward, be it food or toy, and progresses to odor. Why? Because teaching odor is easy. Teaching the dog to work through challenges with environmental pressures and keeping them successfully enjoying the game and wanting more isn’t always so simple. This also allows the handler to take the necessary time to observe their partner and be a student of their dog, work on teamwork and to learn how to best support their dog without the fear of negative associations with any target odors. The dogs are the ones with the noses so let them teach us in a way that is already motivating for them!
Our focus is on the dog. Learning from the dog and supporting the dog. Not all dogs are suitable for competition but they can always play the game. You can learn more about K9 Nose Work® by going to the NACSW website at www.nacsw.net.