Tag Archives: nosework

NW1 Trial Countdown!

20 May

Hanging out in the cabin

Our first crack at NW1 is less than one week away. Ren and I are flying to Chicago next Friday, to complete in the NW1 trial in Grayslake, IL on Saturday.

Even though we have been training in Nosework for over a year, we have been doing quite a bit of prep work in the last month. After attending Nosework Camp, I realized/learned there were some things I should have been doing along, and some of those things had to get squeezed in the past month also.

Camp Coleman was great! My best friend and I shared a cabin, so we had plenty of room. The meals were “OK” – a little too much fried and starchy stuff, but we survived 🙂 The Instruction was awesome. I little jealous over all the fantastic instructors on the West Coast! Some great instructors on the East Coast too, but I feel it’s a little unfair for them to have to prep students for an NW1 trial, without ever trailing themselves.  The only thing that I was really dissapointed in, is that on my registration form I indicated I probably needed the most work and practice on vehicle searches – and we only got to do vehicles once, on the last day, the last class. By that time Ren was pretty burnt out and we only took one turn.

I did walk away from Nosework camp with a good list of what I needed to do before the trail.

The camp was very tiring for Ren, working on and off all day. Before camp, I had only been training once or twice per week. For the few weeks after camp, I upped my training to 4-5 times per week and really kept the momentum of camp going. This last week before the trial, I am only doing a few fun, paired, easy searches.

10 Things I have been doing to prep for the NW1 Nosework Trial

1. Aged Hides – Practicing hides that have sat out for 5-8 hours. If you do this, make sure they aren’t again in an area your dog has access to.

2. Timed Hides – I would advise anyone prepping to compete that they start this earlier than a month before the trial. Having the pressure of the timer running can mess with your mind a bit. Have someone call out time at 1 minute, 2 minutes, and a 30 second warning so you can get used how long that amount of time feels. I practiced on 3-4 minute timed hides.

3. Really Blind Hides – What I mean by this are hides that you truly can’t see, even when your dog is indicating. In a Kleenex box, dustpan, under rocks, etc. For most of the blind hides I did work on, I just didn’t know where the hides was, but one Ren got close I could see the tin. Easy to all “alert” on that. It’s a much different feeling when you can’t see it and REALLY have to trust your dog.

Ren at a Sniff & Go

4. Pairing- To continue to keep Ren’s movitation level up, I have made sure to do more paired hides. This week, the week before the trial, we are doing the pairing with extra special treats

5. New Locations –Looking back, this was a big learning for me. I didn’t work enough new locations over the past year.  Ren was a little off kilter at first at camp, having to work in a new location (but she quickly realized what was going on) With the amount of training I have done with her over the past month, I think she now realizes “new locations” are to be expected.  We have done a warehouse, school interiors and exteriors, fairgrounds, offices, etc in the past month.

6. Box Drills – Just as a refresher, 20 boxes

7. Different Surfaces – Mulch, gravel, long grass, packed dirt, etc etc

8. Different Distractors – People carrying cameras and clipboards, wearing hats, and holding umbrellas

9. Mock Trials – I have been able to do 2 of these. I would highly recommended getting to one if you can. Even if you need to put one together with some training friends, you will probably find it a big help.

10. Have a plan! – This was one of the biggest learnings at camp for me. Before camp, I hadn’t really done any timed hides. I would just let Ren lead, and she ALWAYS would eventually find it. The game changes though when you only have 3 minutes (or however long) I needed to great a plan on how to best work those 3 minutes, and make efficient use of our time. I also had to learn not to panic when the time starts to run out. Your plan can be anything, but this is what mine is.

  • Pay attention to which way the wind is blowing as  I approach the start line. Be ready to adjust plan accordingly. In my mind, catalog all areas she shows interest in but has continued to search past.
  • Let Ren orient a few feet away from the start line (She sometimes will even catch the scent before we start, then just walk right over to it)
  • First 60 seconds or so – Ren gets to go wherever she wants. I pretty much just follow her around and let her check things out
  • 60-120 – If she hasn’t caught odor, do a perimeter walk around the search area, hoping she will pick something up.
  • 120-180 – Go back to areas of interest. Do a zig-zag pattern across the search area.
  • Keep Breathing 🙂

If you want to practice adding some of these things into your training plan, be sure to add one at a time. Don’t set up an search that is timed, blind, with someone holding an umbrella if you haven’t practiced each of those things individually first.


Ren Searching For Birch

23 Jan

Ren does a very detailed search during one of her turns at Nosework Class at Canine Country Academy