The Values of Scent Work for You and Your Dog

This post is written by Marietta Marston a long time competitor in Scent work NACSW and AKC. She also loves teaching her students about Scent work.

Nose work training for your dog

Scent Work is one of the most beneficial things you can do with your dog(s).  This is a great activity for you and your furry friend to get outdoors and for some Fun N Sun. Dogs love outdoor activities. It brings out the adventure in them and their motivation to seek out an enticing toy.  An added advantage of this sport is, it bonds the handler with their best friend while building their dog’s confidence and independence all the while having fun.  Being a more confident dog enables the dog(s) to be happier and healthier in a more relaxed state. Because of the Scent Work benefits some Rescue facilities use Scent Work training to aid the adoption of some less confident dogs by building their confidence, thereby increasing their chances of being adopted. Scent Work is also used by handlers for their reactive dogs (Fearful) dogs to build their confidence so they can become a more stable and happier dog. This means the reactive dog becomes trained more in the cognitive thought process instead of the reacting without thinking, Lizard Brain.  Often this helps the handlers manage their dogs much better.

Because Scent Work uses your dog’s Cognitive Functions, they develop problem solving skills while performing an activity that comes naturally to them and is fun.  It is this problem solving, that will help ease your dog’s energy levels while bonding with you as their handler.  These Cognitive Functions are used in various avenues of Scent Work for Bomb Detection, Scent Detection, Handler Discrimination.

All of this has to make you wonder, how does your dog’s nose work?

The moist nose catches the scent particles that travel up into the nostril and are divided into two separate folds.  The first fold is for breathing and the second is for smelling and is filled with olfactory receptor cells. Dogs have the advantage of 300 million receptor cells compared to humans 5 million and dog’s olfactory area of brain is larger for smelling than humans.  Unlike human breathing in and out, dogs have an enter area and exit area for the air flow.  The air goes in the front nose holes and out the slits you see on the side of their nose creating a swirling that helps them get a better smell of the odors. They have such a keen since of smell that they can pick up odor in 100 million times less concentration than humans.

An added benefit dogs have a Vomeronasal Organ for smelling hormones of animals and humans which is why they are good for human detection, cancer, even our emotional states like anger or sadness are detected and is what makes our furry friends great therapy dogs.  This is how your dog knew someone or a dog was around the corner on a walk.  As we perceive by seeing, they know by their nose and can interpret a nose story the distance of a football stadium whereas we know by our sight.  

Interested in a scent work class? Check out Hampton Roads Obedience Training Club.

If you want to read about other forms of enrichment for your dog check out this blog post 

We can help bring out the best in your dog!

Freak On A Leash dog trainers are experts in using positive reinforcement techniques. Let us help bring calm into your chaos.