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K9 NOSE WORK

Dogs smell scent like we see color.  As a dog is born knowing how to use its nose, K9 Nose Work Classes will not teach the dog "how" to follow scent so much as we will be communicating to the dog on what specific thing we want the dog to focus those superior scenting abilities. To do that, we will tap into your dog’s natural desire to hunt and we will positively reinforce this hunting behavior with a reward system that your particular dog loves, such as a highly-valued toy, special food and sincere praise.

K9 Nose Work Classes are exhilarating for both dog and handler and they can help develop confidence even in the most timid of dogs.  And, the mental exercise of searching and problem-solving is great for calming down other, more energetic or reactive, dogs. Finally, a huge benefit of the K9 Nose Work Classes is the positive working relationship that develops between you and your dog when you both are out “hunting” together as a team. And, for those handlers that love to compete, this series of K9 Nose Work Classes will prepare you for the new competitive Dog Sport that is taking California by storm. Check out the official K9 Nose Work website to learn rules, regulations and more information.

K9 Nose Work Classes are broken down into seven levels: Level I, Level II, Level III, Level IV, Level V, Level VI and Level VII.  Level VIII is available for those that want to focus on their competition skills. Each level consists of six one-hour weekly group sessions.  (For groups of less than three dogs, the class will be 30 minutes in length).  Each dog team must participate in each level as the information builds as the classes continue. Therefore, Level I is a prerequisite to Level II and so forth. Depending on how quickly the dog and the handler master the required skills of each level determines whether the dog team can move up to the next level. All dogs participating must be at least six months of age and be able to be walked on a leash and come when called.  All dogs will work twice each class but only one dog will be worked in the building at a time. 

We are always adding new classes and workshops to our program. If you don’t see a specific class, please call the store to inquire about upcoming class dates or to be put on a wait list.

To view class offerings, see Schedule.

Level I: Introduction to Nose Work (Reward Food/Toys)
Level I is where we build the dog's desire to hunt using modern methods of positive reinforcement while simultaneously training the handler how to read their dog's unique hunting behaviors and to pick up on those subtle signals that communicate to the handler that the dog is "working scent."  (6-week session)


Level II: Introduction to Different Search Venues (Reward Food/Toys)

Level II is where we continue to build the dog’s desire to hunt using modern methods of positive reinforcement while introducing the dog to different search venues. We also will continue to train the handler how to read their dog’s unique hunting behaviors and to pick up on those subtle signals that communicate to the handler that the dog is “working scent.” Dog teams enrolled in Level II must have completed Level I. (6-week session)


Level III: Introduction to Odor-Birch (Pairing Reward/Odor)

Level III is where we not only strengthen the dog's natural hunting abilities and the working relationship developing between you and your canine partner but we also communicate to the dog that one of the three specific target odors, essential oil of birch, is what we want the dog to hunt for. As many of the handlers participating in our K9 Nose Work Classes will want to go on to compete with their dogs, the three target odors that we will be using are the essential oils of anise, clove and birch. Dog teams enrolled in Level III must have completed Level II. (6-week session)


Level IV: Introduction to Odor-Anise/Clove (Odor)

Level IV is where we introduce the dog to the remaining two target odors, essential oils of anise and clove. Additionally, we will continue to work on your handling skills and the dog's ability to independently and reliability hunt for all three target odors. Dog teams enrolled in Level IV must have completed Level III and must exhibit certain minimum proficiency skills in finding the initial target odor. (6-week session)


Level V: Different Scenting Venues (Odor)

Level V is where we continue to increase both the dog’s "dedication" to hunting for the target odors and the handler’s and the dog’s ability to work together as a team in solving progressively more challenging search problems. Dog handling techniques for on- and for off-leash work as well as search strategies will be discussed in these classes. Dog teams enrolled in Level V must have completed Level IV and must exhibit certain minimum proficiency skills in finding the remaining two target odors. (6-week session)


Level VI: Final Response (Odor)

Level VI is an optional class and it is where we teach the dog to offer an independent indication which the dog will use to communicate to the handler that it has found the target odor. Our goal is to have a dog that intensely hunts and automatically indicates when it pinpoints the target odor. Dog teams enrolled in Level VI must have completed Level V and have permission of the instructor to enroll. (6-week session)


Level VII: Continuing Nose Work (Odor)

Level VII is where we continue to increase the handler's and the dog's ability to work together as a team in solving progressively even more challenging search problems. Dog handling techniques for on- and for off-leash work as well as search strategies will be further refined at this Level. Dog teams enrolled in Level VII must have completed Level V (and not necessarily Level VI) and must exhibit meet certain minimum proficiency skills in finding all three target odors. (6-week session or once a month depending on class configuration)


Level VIII: Competition Nose Work (Odor)

Level VIII is where we focus on those dogs that want to go on to complete to K9 Nose Work Competitions. Refining the handler's and the dog's ability to work together as a team in solving progressively more complex search problems geared for competition. Dog handling techniques for on- and for off-leash work as well as search strategies will be further refined at this Level. Dog teams enrolled in Level VIII must have completed Level VII. (but not necessarily Level VI) and must exhibit meet certain minimum proficiency skills in finding all three target odors. (6-week session or once a month depending on class configuration)


K9 Nose Work Try-Out

Especially for Pets is pleased to offer try-outs for those interested in learning more about this exciting new K9 Sport. During the try-out, you will learn how to tap into your dog’s natural desire to hunt and to positively reinforce this hunting behavior with a reward system that your particular dog loves, such as a highly-valued toy, special food and sincere praise. These try-outs are just a glimpse into our series of K9 Nose Work classes which are exhilarating for both dog and handler and can help develop confidence even in the most timid of dogs. And, the mental exercise of searching and problem-solving is great for calming down other, more energetic or reactive dogs. Finally, a huge benefit of the classes is the positive working relationship that develops between you and your dog when you both are out “hunting” together as a team.  And, for those handlers that love to compete, our series of classes prepare you for the new competitive Dog Sport that is taking California by storm. Check out the official K9 Nose Work website to learn rules, regulations and more information.

K9 Nose Work Equipment Needed for each Class

  1. Flat Nylon or Leather Collar - Other than walking the dog into and out of the building, please do not use Halti Head Collars, Gentle Leaders or Easy Walk Harnesses as one of the goals of this training is to get your dog working freely and independently.  While there is a place for these pieces of equipment, they tend to restrict the dog, both mentally and physically.  So, they are not appropriate to use while the dog is working. A normal, well-fitted harness also is acceptable to use.
  2. Leash - A light-weight leather or nylon leash of approximately 6’ in length.  Please make sure that there is nothing attached to the leash that could distract the dog.
  3. Long Line - A longer light-weight leather or nylon line of approximately 10’ in length.
  4. Water - Please don’t forget to bring water for your dog.
  5. Crate or Car - Only one dog will work at a time. All other dogs must be confined to either a crate in the training building while not working or left in a car with proper ventilation, water and shade.  If it is hot outside, it is recommended to bring a crate that you can erect in the training building.
  6. Salient Treats - Because we are building your dog’s desire to hunt, it is VERY important that you bring rewards that your dog really, REALLY wants!!!  The more that the dog wants the reward, the more intense his hunting behavior will be.  So, do not bring plain, boring kibble or dog cookies, even if they are a high-end kibble or dog cookie.  Bring something that is moist and smelly.  BUT FOR HEALTH CONCERNS, PLEASE DO NOT BRING RAW MEATS TO CLASS.  BRING ONLY COOKED FOODS.  Some examples are deli cold-cuts, Frozen Turkey Meatballs, Al Fresca Garlic Sausages, Purdue Little Tenders, real Blue-Cheese flavored treats, tuna, sardines.  In other words, bring something that makes your dog salivate just smelling it!  Chop the treats up into small pieces and bring it all with you in a plastic bag.  Bring approximately 1½ cups of treats.  If your dog is not a food dog, that is ok – bring that dog’s most “favored toy.”  If your dog wants that toy, we can utilize a toy in our training system as well.
  7. Small Bait Bag - You will wear this bag from the start of classes and you will supplement the dog's reward from your Bait Bag.
  8. Two Small Metal Bowls - To keep things moving efficiently through the class, please bring two small metal bowls that do no exceed six inches wide or three inches. You will fill the bowls with your Salient Treats when you and your dog are “on deck.”
  9. Boxes - After the first class, we ask you to go and buy ten boxes to use for training at home. We use boxes from Staples. When you put the boxes together, punch nine holes in three rows of three holes in the lid of each box. Keep one box as your Hot Box which you will use for your food reward. Keep this box completely separate from the Cold, or neutral, Boxes.
  10. Motivated Dog - Again, since we are building your dog’s desire to hunt, it is ALSO VERY important that your dog is hungry when he comes to class and that he is not tired.  A dog that is “full” is not a dog that will want to work.  It will not hurt your dog to not feed him breakfast on the day you come to class and CERTAINLY don’t feed him dinner before trying to train.  Similarly, a dog that is tired is not a dog that will want to work. So, please don’t take your dog on a long walk or play ball with him on the days you come to class.  We want a dog that wants to work!  So, keep your dog hungry and energized on the days you come to class and learning will go much faster.

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