|My what big nose you have! (Bart, a former IDR+ foster)|
In my earlier posts on K9 Nose Work I covered the steps on how to start nose work with your dog. Once you have done box work for awhile (and I mean a while!!) and in many locations with many different looks and your dog has developed a great hunt drive foundation, you are ready for the next step!
The Next Step
Now we can move the game to interior rooms and exterior areas, without boxes (assuming you have already done boxes in all these areas multiple times). At this point we are still using just food or a toy, introducing odor will come later. We are still cementing the dog's hunt drive at this point, as that is what we will rely on when we move to odors.
You'll want to move slowly when introducing new things. So expand the search area slightly each time and gradually add environmental objects (like traffic cones, chairs, different containers, etc.). Move slow :). You can also start adding elevation. At this point I would still keep hides accessible (where the dog is able to reach them and eat them when found), but later in practices you can move some of them to be inaccessible.
|An example of an interior search set with many different environmental objects.|
Photo taken from Country Canine Hawaii
AND, once you have a ton of successful interior and exterior searches under your belt, you can introduce vehicle searches. Say what?!? Yes, searching vehicles :).
Elements of Competition
In K9 Nose Work competitions, there are three competitive levels, three specific scents to hunt, and four elements to a Nose Work Trial. The four elements involved are container search, interiors, exteriors, and vehicle search.
In the container search, an interior room holds a variety of containers on the floor, one of which holds the target odor and the dog must locate the container with the target odor.
The interior search is exactly what it sounds like - the dog searches an interior room for a scent. The dog must locate the target odor.
The exterior search is conducted outdoors. The target odor can be hidden anywhere within the designated search area. The odor can be placed in the crack of a sidewalk, on a light pole, under a table, etc.
|An exterior search.|
Photo taken from K9 Nose Work Trial Photos
The vehicle search involves up to three vehicles. The target odor is hidden on one vehicle. The odor is never hidden inside the vehicle, but can be placed under the vehicle, in a door seam, or placed on the vehicle in some other way.
|Conducting a vehicle search.|
Photo taken from Scentinel Nose Work Dog Training