By Charlene Dunlap

February 2010

After teaching my dogs the concept of the scent detection game (See Part One), I began teaching them to search for scents used in K9 Nose Work. K9 Nose Work is a specific dog sport, created for recreational purposes, based on the methodology used in drug detection scent work.

Scented oils are used in K9 Nose Work trials to level the playing field. Each dog must locate the identical odor: anise, clove, or birch oil. As there was no one in our area who taught K9 Nose Work for fun, and since I wasn't interested in doing this for titles, I ordered a set of the oils and designed my own training protocol.

In Part Two, I am teaching Jyah and Sydney to alert me to the scent of anise oil. An interesting note about anise oil is that when I began teaching my dogs to alert to this scent, I never directly touched the oil, yet an hour later when I walked by my husband, he commented on the strong anise smell on my person. Subsequently, we found that the anise oil odor diffuses throughout an area and has a very adhering quality.

The Nose Work game is played both indoors and outdoors. Trials require an interior building search (one to four rooms depending on the title level), an exterior area search (designated by perimeter markers), and a vehicle search (one to five vehicles depending on the level).

Text from video

ANISE OIL: Instead of the usual liver (See Part One), my scent jar now contains a cotton swab infused with one drop of anise oil. I have the dogs sniff the jar, and I click/treat. I do this several times.

ROOM SEARCH: Instead of hiding the jar myself, I had my husband Glenn hide it. Here it's hidden under the tan blanket on the bed.

Jyah's search is on the other bed and he quickly finds the scent jar. He always wants to bring me whatever he finds.

For Jyah's second search, Glenn hid the jar on the TV stand at the end of the bed on which Sydney had previously made her find. When I brought Jyah into the room, he smelled the anise scent that clung to the bedding material. Then he checked Glenn (who is videoing) as the odor also clung to his clothes, even though he had never touched the oil itself. We found that, when using anise oil in a room, consecutive searches in the same area make it more difficult as the odor diffuses and pinpointing where the jar is located can be confusing. I finally called Jyah off this search and started over.

In his second search, Jyah quickly found the scent jar.

In this clip, Sydney quickly goes through the living room to find where the scent is hidden in the dining room. Jyah had no problem finding the odor jar in the living room.

At this point, we noticed that we usually hid the jar where the dog could see it once he locate it by smell so, for Sydney, Glenn hid the jar under the sofa skirting.

She did a great job! Also, she usually now does a passive alert by sitting without me asking her to.

OUTDOOR SEARCH: When doing searches in the play yard, the dogs often think they're supposed to go over the equipment. I just ignore this and tell them to “find it.”

Sydney's asking me if she's supposed to continue searching. My body language says “yes.”

VEHICLE SEARCH: Car searches on pavement call for a different container as a glass jar could easily get broken. Also, we needed something smaller to hide.

I put one dog on a down/stay while I take the other one to search. I don't know where Glenn has hidden the scent container so I take the dog methodically around the perimeter of each vehicle; however, Sydney decided there was no scent between the two vehicles, and she goes around the back and up the other side.

And, found the anise scent container.

I want Jyah to go along the side with me, but you can see him starting to go behind the truck. I call him to come and we go along the side . . . turns out, when he first started scenting at the back of the truck, he scented the anise odor coming from the tailpipe on the other side.

OUTDOOR SEARCH: The scent container is hidden under this leaf. This search is at a church down the road from our house. I probably should have had the dogs on-leash as there were so many other interesting odors in the area to detract novice dogs. The leaf where the odor is hidden is just past the downspout.

And, she's got it.

In outdoor searches, we often leave the odor container in the same place for both dogs, moving it after each dog has located it once.

Note: I teach the birch and clove scents the same way I taught the anise oil scent.

In Part Three, we will: 1) search at different height levels rather than always at shoulder level or below, 2) do multiple finds in a search area, and 3) trail-track the odor.