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NW150: Scent Theory and Dynamics

Instructor: Lucy Newton

Course Details

There are a wide variety of sports and tasks that require the dog to use his nose and sense of smell to be successful: Tracking. Nosework. Truffle hunting. Barn hunt. Scent Discrimination. In all these venues, as well as practical applications, our ability to understand what scent is and how it can be influenced by the environment plays a vital role in the dog's success. Even more importantly, such understanding allows us to correctly set up training scenarios that allow the dog to develop skill and experience. 

With any scent work, we are not teaching the dog how to scent, but rather we are setting up a situation that allows the dog to hone a skill that he possesses genetically. By understanding scent and scent dynamics, we can correctly interpret why the dog did what he did in a training scenario. We can also avoid over-facing him in training scenarios.

The purpose of this class is to discuss what scent is and discuss the variables that can influence it, such as the influence of temperature, air currents, obstacles, terrain, aging, wind, humidity, and other characteristics of scent and scent dynamics.

There will be a lot of information in the lectures. In addition, for gold students, there will a homework assignment specific for tracking and/or nosework for each week. The homework will consist of setting up a simple hide or track, watching the dog work, and then, using what you are learning, attempt to explain why the dog worked the problem the way he did. You can only enroll one dog per gold spot; however, you can either switch back and forth between the two (if you have a dog that does both), or you can work either your tracking dog or nosework dog. You can only enroll one dog though!

Here is an example of a dog searching a small area for a hide. THe smoke allows you to get a general idea of what the air flow might look like while he is searching.