As humans, it is easy to forget that other animals can have a very different sensory experience of the world. Just as our sense of sight has evolved to be the primary way we get information from our immediate world, many other mammals have developed olfaction, or smell, as their primary sense.
Understanding this is the first step to understanding the animals we work with on their terms. One of the most exciting things that have happened for me as a trainer over the past four years has been my growth in understanding of the incredible world of scent for dogs.
Luckily, I’m not the only one. Lots of organised scenting activities, classes, workshops and competitions have sprung up – initially in North America, but now throughout the world. Different approaches highlight different focal points, as with all training, but the bottom line is that giving a dog an opportunity to hunt gives them a feel good buzz like no other. And when done right, that buzz can be healing.
There are lots of different approaches to teaching scent work. My preference is for K9 Nose Work®.
While K9 Nose Work® is a methodology for teaching dogs to search for and find novel odour, it is so much more for the dog than a fun party trick! The training methodology used is designed to help pet
dogs tap into their hunting instinct, learn independent problem-solving skills and build confidence, focused searches. One way to look at it is that the dogs get so absorbed in the joy of hunting that they forget their worries or fears. It is this hunting or seeking that benefits the dog’s general wellbeing and has already been proven effective at helping behaviourally challenged dogs overcome many of their issues.
Where to go for more information on Nose Work in Australia?
Please visit my website K9Scentral for more info.
You can also find information about the competition side of K9 Nose Work® at Australian Canine Scent Work
Sniffing out the science
How on earth can the simple act of hunting be so therapeutic to dogs? Well, there is a lot we really do not understand, but folks smarter than I are on the way to finding out. Read about it all below.
Freedom to be a dog – the healing starts here
- The Incredible Sense of Smell in the Dog
Olfactory System Anatomy & Function – the physiology of it all.