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Babykins and I competed in a nose work trial this weekend. We entered level 1 and 2. We ran twice in each level. We qualified in our first level 1 run which I’m thankful for because it’s a nice confidence boost. We then went overtime and disqualified for the second run in level 1 and our first run in level 2. I was thrilled that we qualified in our second run in level 2.

Level 1 has one hide in 9 or 10 boxes on the ground level. Level 2 has two hides in 10-12 containers of which one has to be a box and 3-5 objects and Hides can be up to 12” high.

We always practiced in class with used boxes and junky containers in my club. I was completely unprepared for the gorgeous boxes and containers that they used in the trial at this club. The boxes were all gift wrapped with bows etc. In level 2 they used boxes that reminded me of those fancy stacked tower of gifts. They also had the room decorated for the holidays with things on the walls, fencing and even on the floor (which I don’t think follows the rules). Babykins was sniffing at a Santa in a sleigh and I had to ask if this was part of the course and it wasn’t, it was just decoration and not part of the course even though it was less than a foot from a container in the course. There wasn’t supposed to be distractions in our levels but I would label decorations as distraction. For the most part Babykins ignored them. In the upper levels they did put hides in some decorations and they were legitimately part of the course because everything from floors walls and everything in the room is in action.

We didn’t qualify in two rounds because Babykins defaulted back to obedience/rally mode in wanting to heel next to me and focusing on my left hand. I kept hiding my hands behind my back and got her to work for short periods. The two runs we qualified on she did it correctly running into the ring ahead of me and working ahead of me.

On the second day I left Babykins at home to work as the timer for the advanced levels. I learned a lot watching the other teams run. At the highest levels none of the dogs qualified. We watched dogs alert but their handlers pulled their dogs away from the scent. Handlers missed having their dogs sniff every inch of the room including the corners. Handlers also missed having their dogs approach containers from different angles to help them catch a scent. No handler called alert for a hide that was hidden between two floor mats even though if you looked hard you could see the black tape on the black mat where it was located. Dogs found it be but handlers didn’t realize something could be hidden there so they pulled their dogs off it. One scent was close to the other and most handlers assumed that their dog was returning to the hide they had already found. And every dog missed a threshold hide in a Santa hanging on the fence right by the entrance and the judges table.

In addition to Babykins there were three other poodles competing. Those other poodles were more advanced and ran today. All poodles alerted the same way. They all bopped the scent with their noses and used their paws gently to touch the item, or if the scent was above them (toy and minipoo with a hide at 4’) they stood on their hind legs and pawed in the air. Only a handful of the other dogs did this. Some dogs beat up boxes with aggressive pawing (one dog was disqualified for excessive destruction). Most dogs didn’t use their paws to indicate. There were a couple of beagles and they were the only dogs that barked while searching.

It was a fun experience. There were a lot more men competing and many handlers don’t do obedience or rally. Some did agility.
 

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BTW, C-wags is welcoming to dogs that are handicapped. One of my friends also participated at this trial with her dog which was born with 3.5 legs.
 
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Congrats, Skylar! And thank you for sharing the experience. I know so little about nose work, but I signed Maizie up for it next month after hearing from so many how much fun it is.
 

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I think Maizie will love it. It’s so different from rally, obedience and agility. First there’s tons of treats when they find the scents, and I mean tons. Bring far more treats to class than you think you’ll need. Second, unlike most dog sports where the dogs have to watch your body’s movement for clues on how they should move, here it’s reversed and you have to watch them and figure out if they are telling you that they found the hidden scent. It’s amazing how difficult it can be to read subtle behavior in your dog at the beginning.
 
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Maizie does barn hunt, so I know exactly what you're talking about, re: reading subtle cues in your dog! Tons of treats, huh....she is really gonna love this class!
 

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Congratulations! That is a feat to earn Qs the first time out, and with unplanned distractions. Good to hear the lessons learned from volunteering. My spoo also scratches, and stomps the correct box in containers/ORTs. No NQs for it but our instructor said that we can try to eliminate that.

Do you have any plans for trying another venue? NACSW is supposed to be the best at running trials, but in high demand and therefore not easy to get into.
 

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Pretty neat sounding! I know nothing about nose work but think it would be a really good thing to do with your dog. It sounds like you and babykins both learned a lot. Thanks for sharing, I'm going to investigate it more. Though we aren't any where near to trying it out.
 

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Maizie does barn hunt, so I know exactly what you're talking about, re: reading subtle cues in your dog! Tons of treats, huh....she is really gonna love this class!
I forgot, Maizie does barn hunt so she will quickly learn that finding various scents = treats too.

I found reading the subtle cues the hardest - even when watching other people with their dogs.
 
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Congratulations! That is a feat to earn Qs the first time out, and with unplanned distractions. Good to hear the lessons learned from volunteering. My spoo also scratches, and stomps the correct box in containers/ORTs. No NQs for it but our instructor said that we can try to eliminate that.

Do you have any plans for trying another venue? NACSW is supposed to be the best at running trials, but in high demand and therefore not easy to get into.
Thanks Scooterscout. I enjoyed reading your post about your experience working a nose work trial.

The dog that was NQ was excessively destructive. They didn't care if a dog rolled a tin or box around out of position or if they pawed excessively at it - but when it's damaging the container, ruining the course - that's not acceptable. The owner trains at that venue and the judge was her teacher and said she has been told many times in class to not allow her dog to get so destructive.

It was fun to watch some of the dogs - one dog jumped up on all the chairs and sat down on them (there was a hide under one chair). One dog went under a fabric elf that was draped over a fence section in the middle of the room and got their leash tangled up - it was good to see the owner asked if she could touch her dog to untangle the leash - judge said yes. I had a leash problem on a rally run, Babykins went into her down position on top of her leash and when she stood up to heel to the next sign, her leash was trapped between her front legs which she detests. I continued to complete the rally course with her because I didn't know at the time I should ask the judge if I could touch my dog to fix the leash - which is the correct thing to do.

C-Wags and AKC are the only nose work competitions locally right now. I didn't think we were ready when they had the local AKC - and it filled up quickly. NACSW is what many people locally aspire to compete in but their trials are far. Very long drives with hotel stays. Plus factoring in the lottery - whether or not your application is accepted is a turn off for me. If their trials were closer I would apply. I'm hoping with the huge interest here in nose work and the fact that there are several local trainers who are doing well in the upper levels of NACSW that maybe they will do trials here in the future.
 

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Pretty neat sounding! I know nothing about nose work but think it would be a really good thing to do with your dog. It sounds like you and babykins both learned a lot. Thanks for sharing, I'm going to investigate it more. Though we aren't any where near to trying it out.
Thanks Mufar. I highly recommend taking a beginning nose work class - of all the dog sports we've done or I know about, I think this is the most fun for the dog and easiest for the handler to get started in.
 
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I don't know much about nose work other than that it is growing in popularity.


It seems from reading about the experience of those of you who are working this sport that you need to learn to read your dog's tell (indication signs) and that sometimes they are really subtle. I have had that issue with Lily and tracking. Her natural article indication is just a dip of her head and is hard to read when she is out in front of me on a long line. If we have snowed in days in January I will have to work on getting her to give me a better sign.


Skylar more clubs need people like you who not only come to class to train but also enter trials and beyond that most importantly volunteer to help out. Volunteering helps the club but is very instructional for the volunteers!
 
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Good job, but more importantly it sounds like you had fun and learned something! That's GOOD!!!! I expect to hear more great results in the future! GO BABYKINS!!!!:cheers2:
 

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I don't know much about nose work other than that it is growing in popularity.


It seems from reading about the experience of those of you who are working this sport that you need to learn to read your dog's tell (indication signs) and that sometimes they are really subtle. I have had that issue with Lily and tracking. Her natural article indication is just a dip of her head and is hard to read when she is out in front of me on a long line. If we have snowed in days in January I will have to work on getting her to give me a better sign.


Skylar more clubs need people like you who not only come to class to train but also enter trials and beyond that most importantly volunteer to help out. Volunteering helps the club but is very instructional for the volunteers!
Lily dipping her head is tricky. Some of the dogs indicated by turning their head and looking to their handler but then they would sometimes look just to see where they were. Some dogs changed the way they wagged their tail. I do find it easier to read Babykins when she is out in front of me rather than when she’s next to me in heel position because I can see her full body.

As for volunteering, I realize that lots of people volunteered so I can participate in dog sports. Untold people who started the clubs and are no longer with us, my trainers who all teach for free in exchange for free training time in the building and the people who put on competitions, those people work extremely hard. If I want to be part of the community then I need to give my time to help make things happen both for me and others. I’m finding to that my friendship with other members is deepening. When I first started to take classes I didn’t know any one and felt like an outsider but now I’m part of this close knit community.
 
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Good job, but more importantly it sounds like you had fun and learned something! That's GOOD!!!! I expect to hear more great results in the future! GO BABYKINS!!!!:cheers2:
Thanks Laurel, you’re a wonderful cheerleader encouraging us and others here in our dog sports.
 
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