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.
Scent Work Down Under
There are lots of different approaches to teaching scent work. My preference is for K9 Nose Work®.
K9 Nose Work® is one type of classes for teaching dogs to search for and find novel odour, but 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 confident, focused searches. The dogs get so absorbed in the joy of hunting (or seeking) 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?
Instruction and classes
There are a variety of different classes, workshops and events occur around Australia. While I have only listed Instructors qualified in K9 Nose Work below, you may have other types of scent work classes closer to your area. As far as a dog is concerned, any hunt is a good hunt!
In NSW Me! I am currently offering ongoing nose work instruction in a number of different ways. Introduction classes are designed for anyone who has never done any scent work or for people who are interested in finding out what the difference is between straight scent detection training and K9 Nose Work®. These classes are held at Mangrove Mountain Hall on Saturday mornings and run for 4 weeks. Instruction can also be arranged for one, two or three dogs (and handler teams) on request. If you would like to find out more wiz me an email via the contact page.
Sniffing out the science
How on earth can the simple act of hunting be so therapeutic to dogs? Read about it all below.
SEEKING System – the healing starts here
- The Incredible Sense of Smell in the Dog
Olfactory System Anatomy & Function – the physiology of it all.