Instructor: Julie Symons
Note: Week one class lectures will be released on June 1st but your instructor will not join the classroom until Monday, June 4 due to participation in the FDSA Training Camp. This class will be extended to July 15th to allow for this delay.
Nosework is easily the hottest new sport around, and it’s easy to see why! It’s fun for humans, dogs love to participate, and it’s good for building confidence and focus in dogs that have issues like shyness, reactivity, aggression, or a simple lack of confidence. Any dog can participate; from puppies to very old or retired dogs. In a matter of weeks, you’ll see your dog confidently ignoring distractions and focusing on the target scent; and by the end of the course, many of the dogs will be ready to compete for their ORT.
This course is unique in that your dog will NOT learn to search for food; instead, we use the proven training method that produces the nation's top drug and bomb detection dogs! Our backchaining method is effective on almost all dogs, from insecure and unfocused dogs to highly driven and intense workers. The proof is in the pudding; dogs going through only one or two levels of our courses are earning their ORT and NW titles in record time! Even if your dog has failed using other methods, we can help you succeed!
In this class, you will learn about the basic concepts in searching for odor, proper use of equipment, how to handle odor, how to make and place hides, and how to teach your dog the importance of odor obedience. You will also learn how to make the search for scent extremely important to your dog.
Next session starts: December 1, 2018Registration starts: November 22, 2018Registration ends: December 15, 2018
Registration will begin at 11:30 AM Pacific Time.
Enrollment limits: Gold: 12 students, Silver: 10 students, Bronze: unlimited.
Gold Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to post questions and videos to the course forums. Students will receive instructor feedback on written and video assignments.
Silver Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to participate in the discussion forum. Students may ask GENERAL questions about course materials and may submit two, one-minute videos for instructor feedback. Any questions specific to your dog MUST be accompanied by a video.
Bronze Level includes access to all course materials and the ability to read all questions and answers posted in the class forums. Students will not post questions or submit written or video assignments.
For more details, refund policies, and answers to commonly asked questions see our FAQ page.
The focus for this class will be to build value/history on odor, introduce and build drive for hunting, and emphasize the importance of staying at source. Many fun games are used to progress the teams at their own pace. Other topics include generalization, aging, equipment/gear, handling, mild proofing games, creative container placement patterns, handler position, and handler analysis - can you tell where hide is from handler cues?
- What is Nosework / Explanation of training method
- Preparing/handling odor & avoiding contamination
- Introduction to odor
- Introduction to containers
- Adding duration
- Setting criteria for behavior at source
- Introduction to hunting
- Developing value for odor source
- Emphasizing the importance of rewarding at source
- How to address false alerts
- Generalization of containers
- Building stay at source behavior using games
- Handling & body language - how that can affect your dog's search
- Introduction to mild proofing at source
- Generalization of searching in new familiar locations
- Hunting skill building games / adding more containers and challenges in search area
- Nosework gear and leash handling
- Intro to Interiors
- Interior search, small known area
- Introduction to aging your hides
- Startline routines
- Introducing elevated interior hides, slightly above nose level
- Introduction to “ORT”/Novice container boxes
- Introducing hides on chairs
- Preparing for your ORT
- Mock ORT
- Interior search, small new area
- Line of Objects
Prerequisites: Open to All.
- Soft, high value treats
- Video camera/access to YouTube upload (Gold only)
- 6 "Game Boxes". Any kind of sturdy plastic container - upperware/sandwich containers with holes drilled in the top or sides works well. You can find many kinds at the Dollar stores. Putting holes on side allows us to teach our dogs to search the seams and not the tops and will be recommended in class.
- Odor kit (or build your own)
- Birch odor (or first odor for your NW organization)
- small glass jar
- metal tins with holes
- Quake Hold or museum putty
- (Optional) small rare earth magnets that can go inside a tin
- A cold tin that will never have odor in it. If using a store bought mint tin, make sure to thoroughly wash it out so that there is no mint smell. If you are ordering a kit, you might as well order a few extra tins in different sizes. The kits won't come with an extra metal tin.
- (Optional) Disposable gloves, for handling odor.
- (Optional) ORT boxes used in NACSW for weeks 5 and 6 (12-pack). A good option is 10 x 8 x 3".
OR slightly smaller for better storing using 9 x 6 1/2 x 2 3/4:
- (Optional) 6 metal light switch boxes - for use as alternative to game boxes or for dogs that may overly interact with boxes. A great way to avoid box smashing by learning on something heavior.
- You can find them at larger brand hardware stores. The bottom and top are sold separately and are in different bins in the store.
- (Optional) PVC Elbows (up to 6) 45 degree bend and large enough for the dog to insert his face. Closet Flanges to fit on the end of the elbows. If you can find a shower drain that will fit in the bottom that is helpful. Drill a hole approximately 1.5" to 2" in diameter in the back for food delivery - for use as alternative to game boxes
- At http://k9nwsource.com/product-category/containers/odor-kits/ - the minimum you would need is the "student starter kit". The "plus" kit includes a round and slider tin plus a heat strip sleeve and Centrafuge Tubes (may be used end of class and in NW120). The "deluxe" kit includes 1 dram bottle of oil and more qtip containers. Eventually, you will want to make your own scented qtips so you will want to have the oil also. For existing scented qtips, I may refresh them every 3-4 months if I find they are drying up. Located in the east/PA.
- At http://www.paws4fun.net/target-odor-kit - the minimum you would need is the "labeled jar". This kit only comes with 5 scented qtips. The "target odor kit" includes the dram bottle of oil, more scented qtips and a cute case! With this kit you must indicate you want a tin slider with holes. Located in the west/CA.
- At http://www.thek9nose.com/ - the minimum you would need is the "starter travel kit". The "Beginner Starter kit" includes a bottle of oil and some additional qtip holders. Located in the mid-west/MN!
- At http://www.allgooddogs.biz/products - the "Travel kit starter with Birch" or "Student kit with single odor" are good options. (Specific to NACSW).
For international orders, check with your country organization to confirm the correct target scents. If you're training strictly for fun, you may select any scent that is available to you and safe for your dog! Order early, sometimes the scents are back ordered.
- Canadians, you may order here: http://www.newdirectionsaromatics.ca/
- Australians, you may order here: https://www.politepaws.com.au/store/
- For Poland, you may order supplies directly from Nosework Polska / Nosework Poland: http://nosework-polska.pl/
The specific scent for the ORT (NACSW), Pre-trial (UKC), or the Novice (AKC) title is: BIRCH: (aka "Sweet Birch" or Betula Lenta). Make sure you buy this specific one! Wyndmere brand is Available at Whole Foods, but is not always in stock. You can also order online at: http://www.wyndmerenaturals.com/
NOTE for Canadians:
Odors required for Sporting Detection Dogs Association (SDDA) are:
- Wintergreen (Gaultharia procumbens), Pine (pinus pinaster or sylvestris) and Red Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
- It may be quickest and cheapest to put together your own kit. You will need to start with Wintergreen unless you are planning to train all 3 odors together. You can get these Essential Oils at your local health food store.
Tins can be purchased on Amazon. Get empty lip balm slide tins and poke 6 holes in the top with a nail.
You will also need a small jar to "cook" Qtips. Something the size of a sterilized baby food jar works great!
This first week we will be introducing your dog to odor right away using a game called "It's your choice". This will teach your dog to choose odor for reinforcement. This is the first step to developing commitment (value) for odor and is a game we use throughout the dog's career.
Time Commitment: Plan for 2-3 times a day for no more than 2 minutes each session.
- Soft treats
- Small tin to put scented qtips in
- Cold tin
- Plastic container with holes drilled in lid to be used and labeled as a HOT container
Week 1: Intro to Odor
Game 1, Part 1: “It’s your choice” with a tin
1. Prepare your tin with 3-5 qtips inside. Use a lower number if your dog is sensitive to smells or seeming to not want to go near the odor tin.
2. Pick a familiar area in your house that will be your primary training area when introducing new exercises.
3. Have treats available on you or in nearby dish.
4. Get your dog.
5. Pick up tin with one hand, and grab a handful of food in the other.
6. Sit on floor or in chair.
7. Place your hands 12-18” apart at dogs nose level. Keep hot tin hand open with palm up and your food hand closed.
- Your dog will likely spend some time trying to get the food out of your food hand. Wait dog out.
- When your dog investigates the other hand with the tin, IMMEDIATELY mark their behavior (“yes”, “click”) and THEN give treat by bringing hand with food to tin and feed at source.
- If dog stays at source/tin, keep feeding at source.
- Make sure to anchor your tin/source hand. Hold that hand still and bring the TREAT hand to source.
8. Switch hands, repeat step 7 for another minute or so.
9. Take a break (don't over do it, should be short session). Repeat later in day.
10. If you have been using 5 qtips, reduce to 2-3 by weeks end. 3 qtips seems to be the average used in most cases.
Here's Lyra demonstrating her first nosework lesson:
Here's Drac at 4 months old on his first 2 days of learning nosework:
1. If after giving it some time and your dog is too distracted by your food hand, you can just put out the tin hand for a few times with your treat hand at your side or behind your back and mark then feed immediately for checking it out. The objective is to have your dog "find" odor and get reinforced at source. Once you have had some success with this, you can try having your food hand out to give your dog a choice.
2. If your dog gets stuck and doesn’t offer any behavior. You can use your FOOD hand to lure them back in or out of a stuck position. Or shift your position to get them to move. NEVER lure them with the tin.
3. If your dog is a little put off by the odor and won't eat near the tin, go to Game 3 and use a vented plastic container. The container will act as a bigger "target" and you can place your treats right on top of the container.
4. Engage some play drive by taking off and trying to get away from your dog in a fun game of chase and then hold out your hands with food and hot tin.
Make sure to mark and feed IMMEDIATELY when they check out your hand with odor. They are finding it by accident and will repeat what led to reinforcement.
Game 1, Part 2: “It’s your choice” on the ground
Play the same game as when holding the tin and food, but place the tin on the ground.
1. First just place the tin on the ground and feed when your dog checks it out.
2. Then place your choice of food out by holding treats on the ground about 12-18" inches area from the odor tin.
3. You can also put the treats on the ground but cover them. You can feed from your other hand or from under the cupped hand. This will work some impulse control too!
Game 2: Two Tins!
Now we will test that our dog doesn't think any container (or any tin) pays. We will now put a cold tin (a tin that has NEVER had odor in it or been stored with odor tins) and a hot tin on the ground. Place the tins 1-2 feet apart and reward for checking out or staying at the hot tin. If you don't have an extra tin, find any small container about the same size as your tin. You can usually find something equivalent at a local craft store - since it will always be a "cold" tin, no need to have vented holes in it.
Note: If you are doing some treat tosses to reset between reps, it's good practice to pick up the hot tin after you give your last treat for that rep so we don't encourage them to leave source. After you pick up the hot tin, THEN toss your reset treat. Now you have the hot tin in you hand and you can place it down in a new spot before your dog returns. This will become more useful when we get to more containers.
Here's a video of Drac choosing between 2 tins for the first time.
Game 3: “It’s your choice” with a container
Repeat the same steps above, but put your tin in a small vented tupperware container. Hold the container in one hand and your treats in the other. This is your first introduction to search containers!
Here's a video showing this with Raika using a vented plastic container (with odor tin inside). At the end of the video she does place it on the floor for an additional test. (This will lead into next weeks lesson).
Pre-test before you proceed:
Before you proceed to the next lecture, test that your dog goes quickly to source within three seconds, without offering additional behaviors like barking or positions. If you pass, you are ready to proceed to the next lesson.
Here is Drac's pre-test before moving to the next level. This was his 5th session of nosework!
A SAMPLING OF WHAT PRIOR STUDENTS HAVE SAID ABOUT THIS COURSE ...
This course was recommended to us as part of a rehab program for my dog who had surgery and needed a lot of crate rest and quiet time. Best thing we could have done ! We found a new sport that we love and will continue to take other nosework classes here. Outstanding individual attention from the instructor and an incredibly dynamic group of students, with lots of positive energy. Great way to strengthen your relationship with your dog and tap into their natural skills ! Loved it ! Ana C.
This was my first gold at Fenzi and I haven't regretted a second. :) We (me and my dog) had so much fun on the course and we got so much helpful feedback and positive encouragement from the instructor. Super course.
I had hesitated to try Nosework because it didn't seem as exciting as other sports, but as a novice handler with an independent, reactive dog, I wanted to find an activity that might come more naturally to us as a team...we are hooked! It is a special kind of thrill to see my dog starting to understand and search for odor, all in just 6 weeks.
One of the best online courses I have taken. The material provided was helpful, but best of all was looked after by the teacher. She provided feedback really fast and comprehensive. Thanks a lot, looking forward to the next course, you got me and my dog hooked on Nosework!
My dogs have developed good, independent hunting skills as well as value to stay at source. They are confidently completing container and interior searches. Now we are working on transitioning to ORT boxes. I look forward to the next level of nosework classes!
The progression was logical and systematic, but with the flexibility to tailor to the strengths and preferences of each dog. Feedback was timely and very supportive. It was educational to see the variety of breeds of dogs in the class mature in their skills during the course. As someone who has a non-traditional work schedule, finding a quality on-line class is the perfect fit! Thanks FDSA! Kyla S
This was a great course. The written material was excellent as were the videos. Shortly after the course began, I found myself unable to continue due to illness in the family. However, knowing that the material would be available after the course finished, allowed me to relax & focus on the crisis at hand, without stressing about missing out on the course. During this time, I read the lectures & viewed the videos & am confident that I will be able to pick up where I left off, as the lectures & videos were so well done. Having access to the lecture material for a full year, strongly influenced me to sign up for the course when I did, as I knew this would give me time to work through it with my 3 dogs. I also knew that even if I was unable to give a constant 6 weeks to it, I would be able to do it as time was available. I look forward to finishing this course & progressing onto the next level with my dogs. If your other courses are as well done as this one, I will be taking many more. Thanks, for making it possible for us to have top-notch instruction online. Karen H.
This has been a great class. The lectures were easy to follow, and even though I was only at the bronze level, I still have great confidence that with a little more proofing in distracting environments, my dog will have no problems completing an odor recognition test. All of the exercises were straightforward, nicely demoed, and something I could easily do. The feedback given to the gold students was invaluable, even to me who wasn't one of those students! I really enjoyed this class, and cannot wait to take the next level! Brittany L.