What Nosework Involves

What Is Nosework?

for more details and photos, and to see the 2022 seminar sites (Pawsitive Training Arena & Craftco Metalworks storage yard) see my dogs working at the 2021 Dave Kroyer Seminar:  Mercy, Spirit and GloryToo 

Nosework is a competition dog sport that is a spin-off from narcotics dog training. Instead of drugs, nosework dogs search for essential oils. In our area, for years the only venue for nosework competition has been the United Kennel Club (UKC), so this description of Nosework only discusses UKC rules and practices. 

We usually have 2 nosework trials a year in our area. One element is offered each day, with a trial in the morning and another trial (with different searches) in the afternoon.  It takes two passing searches to receive a title in that particular element and receive a title such as Novice Containers or Elite Vehicles – which means you can earn an element title in one day if our dog searches and indicates reliably.  When you receive titles in all four element at a level, you earn an overall title (Novice Nosework for example).  The spring trial usually offers interiors and containers; the fall trial usually offers interiors, exteriors and vehicles.  With so few chances to compete in our area, you want to be sure your dog indicates clearly and reliably.  One reason we like Dave Kroyer’s training method so much is that he spends a lot of time teaching a reliable indication before allowing the dog to ever begin the exiting business of searching for odor.  Dave teaches the dog to lie down and stare at a low hide, and to sit and stare at a high hide, focusing on only the location of the hide, getting as close as possible to it and staring at it until released by the handler.  Our group’s qualifying rate soared after we began training with Dave.  

Competition consists of five different levels and dogs compete in four different elements – exteriors, interiors, vehicles and a set of cardboard boxes called containers.  I include a few photos of my dogs competing in the different elements.

In Interiors, the beginner class (Novice) involves a small area and only one hide, which is birch. Advanced dogs search a larger area for one hide, which is anise. Superior dogs search a still larger area for two scents – clove and either birch or anise, and have to ignore one distraction which can be either food or a toy. Masters level dogs search an even larger area with three to four scents – myrrh plus any of the previous scents and one or more distractions. Elite level dogs search a still larger area for vetiver plus up to three of the other scents and two or more distractions.

Interiors competition photos

Exteriors is organized similarly to Interiors and can be anywhere outdoors.

Exteriors competition photos

In containers, a set of boxes is placed on the floor or ground.  Novice dogs search 12 boxes set in a straight line for one hide, which is birch.  Advanced dogs search 12 boxes set in a straight line for one hide, which is anise.  Superior dogs search 16 boxes set in no more than two rows, looking for two hides (clove and either birch or anise) and ignoring a distraction of a toy or food place in one box.  Master dogs search 20 boxes in any arrangement, finding three odors, one of which must be myrrh, and must ignore a distraction of a toy or food place in one box.  Elite dogs search 24 boxes set in any arrangement and must find up to four hides, one of which must be Vetiver, while ignoring two boxes with distractions of either food or a toy.

Containers competition photos

In vehicles, novice dogs search three passenger vehicles which are all facing the same way, and the hide will only be on the front bumper of one, the scent placed no higher than 2’. Advanced dogs search the entire vehicle, still a set of three facing the same direction and still no higher than 2’. Superior searches involve four vehicles, three of which must be passenger vehicles, set in a line but can face any direction. Scents may be placed up to 3’ high on the vehicles. Superior searches involve 5 vehicles, three of which must be other than passenger vehicles, and the vehicles may be in a scattered arrangement. Master searches use five vehicles, two of which need not be automobiles, in a scattered pattern with no specific orientation. Scents may be placed up to 4’ high. Elite searches need 6 vehicles, two of which are not automobiles, set in a scattered pattern with no specific orientation. Scents may be placed up to 5’ high on the vehicles.

Vehicles competition photos

to Kroyer Seminar 2022 page
to photos of Craftco Metalworks storage yard, site of the Kroyer seminar site on August 6 & 7, 2022