The Nose Knows

We’ve done several training classes with Nola over the past few years. We even tried agility with her, which she loved, until she tore her ACL. We decided after her CGC certification that we would do a class just for fun. We needed a class that wasn’t too physical, since the vet recommend she avoid jumping. We didn’t want to do another obedience class right away. And, we wanted to do something that was F-U-N for Nola Muffin. Since she seems to be a pro at sniffing out all the poop buried under the snow in our yard, finding chicken bones on the side of the road, and all digging up all sorts of gross things at the beach, we figured Nose Work seemed like the perfect fit!

Nola getting psyched for class.

Nola getting psyched for class.

Last week was our first class. I find the first class of any training session to be a bit stressful, probably because I am a worrier and have anxiety about unknown situations, and this on proved to be no different. It had been recommended to us by Teri, the trainer, to bring a crate for Nola. Because the dogs work off leash it is important to keep the other dogs contained. Well, it’s been well over a year since Nola has even stepped foot in a crate. We worked on it a bit at home before class, but apparently not enough. She hated being in there and would only be calm if we were feeding her treats. Otherwise she was whining and pawing at the door. Look at the pathetic face she gave us:

"Can I PLEASE come out now?"

“Can I PLEASE come out now?”

DSC_0738Next week we are going to try a bigger crate and see if that helps a bit. (This one was the smaller of the two we own, because it’s easier to transport, but she was hitting her head on the top.) We also tried just keeping her behind a partition, but she was too interested in what was going on, and she’s tall enough to see over it!

Inspecting her treats.

Inspecting her treats.

After we set up our holding area for Nola, the class begun. Each dog got to go three rounds, with three turns to sniff each round. During the first round Nola got to watch as Teri took the treat, put it in a box and placed it on the floor amongst just a few other boxes. DSC_0733DSC_0729Then, the Mr. let her lead him around as she sniffed to find the box with the treat in it. It’s important to use high value, stinky treats in this class. Nola had a combination of chicken and hotdogs to find.DSC_0731 Once Nola found the box with the treat we were supposed to ‘jackpot’ reward her by throwing another handful of treats in the box and praising her like she had just become the first dog President of the United States. Nola was a pro at this round!

The second round got a little harder. This time, Nola was still allowed to see Teri put the treat in the box, but now there were even more empty boxes added to the mix. She was also allowed to search off leash on her own this time. Nola still did excellent, finding the box with the treat almost right away.

Watching Teri place the box.

Watching Teri place the box.

"I'm ready! Let me find it!"

“I’m ready! Let me find it!”

DSC_0744The third round was the ‘blind’ hide. Nola went behind a barrier as Teri hid the treat in a box. Then, she was allowed to search off leash for the box. Nola had a harder time with this one. She wanted to go to Teri and give her the ‘do you have something for me?’ look. We had to tap the boxes a bit to get her back on track. By the last turn she was doing great!
DSC_0739 DSC_0750Overall the class was really fun. Nola seemed to enjoy it, and came home pretty tired. There were five other dogs there, and one of them, a sweet older lady named Birdie, just so happens to be owned by one of my blog idols- Jessica from Notes from a Dog Walker and the creator of DINOS (Dogs in Need of Space). Although I was a bit to self-conscious/paranoid/embarrassed by Nola making a scene in her crate/star struck to actually introduce myself to Jessica (insert palm to forehead!), it was nice to see Birdie go from having her tail tucked and very unsure of the boxes, to wagging and easily finding those delicious morsels Teri hid! (I promised myself that next time I will go over and introduce myself.) That’s the best part of this type of class, it is good for all sorts of dogs- shy dogs, old dogs, dogs that don’t like other dogs, young dogs, dogs that need more mental stimulation, etc. We hope Nola will like it even more next week!

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12 thoughts on “The Nose Knows

  1. Now I’m the one who’s embarrassed! We’ll talk tomorrow night in class, I’m sure. The first class is always hard – there was a lot going on behind all those partitions!

    Nola was definitely the class star. She looked like she had a lot of fun. Looking forward to seeing her in action tomorrow night!

  2. How fun! It sounds like Nola is going to really enjoy the nose work class! We have totally eliminated putting Athena in a crate during flyball and now she spends her time in the car waiting. She is WAY more calm once she comes inside the training room because she’s not all stressed out about trying to get out of the crate. So I would suggest the car if a bigger crate doesn’t seem to soothe Miss Nola!

    P.S.- She looks so fancy wearing her flower to class!!

  3. Suffice it to say that if I ever ‘run in’ to you or Jessica, I’ll be the crazy person running towards you screaming “it’s me Oh Melvin, wait, stop, don’t call the police!”

    Love this class idea, Jake may need it!

  4. Eek! We’ve been dying to try a nose work class with the pooches, but haven’t found any near us. Instead, I’ve been collecting boxes to try it ourselves at home. Keep us posted on your classwork…it sounds so fun! And is that the “Nola Bow” I’ve read about? She looks darling!

  5. We did Nose Work for several months before coming south for the winter. Titan is a rock star (pardon my enthusiasm). I’m not sure what they are doing during the winter, but during our classes, the dogs were kept in the car, rather than in crates all together. Titan would not do well being crated among a number of other dogs, so the setup in our classes was really good for him. Our instructor was kind enough to find an instructor for us down here and we met with her last weekend. We worked on outside hides and Titan was pooped by the time he found four. We hope to meet with her once more before we head home, then we’ll pick it up again there. Looks like Nola did a great job and had fun, that’s what it’s all about. (Can you tell me what kind of harness she is wearing?)

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