Nose Work

Are you looking for fun activities that can be done indoors or outside? Try nose work!

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Dogs use their noses all the time to process their environment. They are aware of and processing more smells all the time than we could ever do. Watching a dog use its nose is lots of fun, improves your observation skills and helps you better understand your dog. Even more fun is providing your dog with a safe situation to enjoy the dog’s natural hunting ability and for you to observe your dog in new ways. Nose work is fun for both dogs and handlers, builds a dog’s confidence, work ethic and strengthens dog/handler bond. These classes are appropriate for puppies, too.



Although our nose work classes prepare dogs for competition, you can enjoy and participate even if you never want to enter a trial. Companion dogs of all ages will love learning to use their noses.
Club members and instructors participate in several nose work venues. OTCPBC is licensed to offer AKC Scent Work and UKC Nose Work trials. OTCPBC has also hosted National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW) Odor Recognition Tests (ORTs) and NW1, NW2 trials.

In addition to offering classes and hosting trials the club periodically offers “Sniff ‘n Go” practice events that are open to the public. Information about these events may be found using the “Trials and Seminar” tab.

Class Format


In all Nose Work classes dogs work one at a time. When dog is not working, dog must be securely crated. Each handler must provide a crate for use during class. Handlers are encouraged to observe each dog/handler team work. Handlers may be asked to help with moving equipment before and after class.

What to Bring for all classes:

Please bring a crate for your dog and a chair and high value treats. Please bring a smartphone or small video camera so that your session may be recorded for your review after class. Dogs work one at a time. Dogs must be crated when not working. Buckle or flat collar or non-restrictive harness; 10-15 foot line. No Flexi leashes. Working gear for dog is a non-restrictive harness and a 10-15 foot line.

Getting Started

Class: NW 100A Introduction to Nose Work

This class is the first class in our series and provides an opportunity for your dog to safely engage in a game based on the dog’s natural hunting instinct. Handlers will learn how to observe dogs in a natural activity. Given the opportunity to work at this game, dogs become more focused and confident. The dog/handler bond becomes stronger. Initially dogs will hunt for food or a toy in cardboard boxes. As skills develop other objects will be introduced into the hunt. This class is appropriate for dogs of all ages, from puppies to senior dogs.
Prerequistes: In this class dogs work one at a time, so dog must be able to rest in a crate when not working. Dogs must be under handler control in the parking lot and when coming into or leaving the building.
See above for “What to Bring”
Start Date: Tuesday, 1/9/2018 @ 5:30 PM.
Instructor: Judy McPartland and Marti Hohmann
Duration: 6 weeks
Cost: $129 (20% discount for members who worked 20 volunteer hours in 2017)

Class: NW 100B Introduction to Odor

This is the second class in our series for teams beginning nosework. Dogs who are enthusiastic hunters for food or a toy will begin to hunt for a target odor, birch. To start the target odor will be paired with the dog’s primary reward. Searches will be designed to create high value for the target odor. The handler will practice observing dog’s behavior throughout the stages of the search process. Searches will be inside the training building and in the parking lot, weather permitting.
Prerequisites: Completion of NW 100A or equivalent. Dog actively searches for primary reward (food or toy).
See above for “What to Bring”
Start Date: Tuesday, 2/27/2018 @ 5:30 PM.
Instructor: Judy McPartland and Marti Hohmann
Duration: 6 weeks
Cost: $129 (20% discount for members who worked 20 volunteer hours in 2017)

Class: NW 100C Continuing Nosework

This class is for teams that have been searching for odor for six weeks or longer. This class will continue introducing dogs to different environments and objects, including exteriors and vehicles. Initially hides will be birch. As teams progress hides will include birch paired with anise or with clove. Searches will be both indoors and outdoors.
See above for “What to Bring”
Start Date: Tuesday, 11/14/2017 @ 5:30 PM.
Instructor: Judy McPartland and Marti Hohmann
Duration: 6 weeks
Cost: $129 (20% discount for members who worked 20 volunteer hours in 2016)

Class: NW 100D Search Elements

This class will introduce handlers to the four types of search areas used in NACSW competition nose work: Containers, Interiors, Exteriors, Vehicles. Searches will take place indoors at the OTCPBC clubhouse and outdoors in the parking lot.
Prerequisite: Dog must be confident searching for birch.
See above for “What to Bring”
Start Date: Tuesday, 1/9/2018 @ 6:45 PM.
Instructor: Judy McPartland and Marti Hohmann
Duration: 6 weeks
Cost: $129 (20% discount for members who worked 20 volunteer hours in 2017)

Fundamental Skills Classes

Class: NW 105 Proofing and Distractions

This class is for dogs who are on odor and are confident searching indoors. Goal is to help dog better understand that “only odor pays” and choose to ignore distractions. Handler will observe differences in dog’s behavior when at source and at a distraction.

Starts: Tuesday, November 7, 2017 @6:45 PM FULL
Instructor: Lauren Walsh
Duration: 6 weeks
Cost: $129 (20% discount for members who worked 20 volunteers hours in 2016)

Intermediate Skills Classes

NW 208 Searching Outdoors

This class will be held outdoors in OTCPBC parking lot, weather permitting. This class will focus on providing search experience in outdoor environments where scent is subject to the elements. Handlers will have opportunities to observe dogs working in various conditions and begin to learn how to provide support as dog searches. Multiple hides including birch and anise will be used. Appropriate for dog/handler teams preparing for NACSW Exterior and Vehicle searches. Participants are encouraged to volunteer use of their vehicle for searching.
Prerequisite: Teams must be confidently searching for odor.
Starts: Saturday January 20, 2018 @11:30 AM.
Instructor: Judy McPartland and Marti Hohmann
Duration: 6 weeks
Cost: $129 (20% discount for members who worked 20 volunteers hours in 2017)

Advanced Skills Classes

NW 306 Advanced Mind Games

Advanced puzzles and challenges for dog-handler teamwork, upper level competition strategies, and problem solving specific to each team. Dogs must be proficient on birch, anise, and clove, proficient with multiple hides per search, experienced with all typical search elements (interiors, exteriors, vehicles, containers), and skilled with hides at ground, elevation, corners, inaccessible locations, converging, etc. Suitable for teams working at the NACSW NW3 level or equivalent. Please contact [email protected] for the approval required prior to enrollment.
Start Date: Tuesday, 1/9/2018 @ 8:00 PM.
Instructor: Lisa Brooks
Duration: 6 weeks
Cost: $129 (20% discount for members who worked 20 volunteer hours in 2017)

Trial Preparation Classes

NW 212 Novice Trial Prep

For Nose Work teams looking to gain experience and refine skills to compete at NACSW NW1& AKC SW Novice, or similar. This class will focus on exposure to elements, team building, and search strategy. Elements from both venues will be incorporated into the searches for this class. Participants are encouraged to volunteer use of their vehicle for searching.
Prerequisite:Teams need to be searching proficiently for Birch.
Starts: Saturday January 20, 2018 @9:00 AM. No classes 1/27; 2/17; 3/10. FULL
Instructor: Lauren Walsh
Duration: 6 weeks
Cost: $129 (20% discount for members who worked 20 volunteers hours in 2017)

NW 214 Intermediate Trial Prep

For Nose Work teams looking to gain experience and refine skills to compete at NACSW NW2 and AKC SW Advanced, or similar. This class will focus on exposure to elements, team building and search strategy. Elements from both venues will be incorporated into the searches for this class. Participants are encouraged to volunteer use of their vehicle for searching. Teams need to be searching proficiently for Birch and Anise.
Prerequisite:Teams need to be searching proficiently for Birch and Anise.
Starts: Saturday January 20, 2018 @10:15 AM. No classes 1/27; 2/17; 3/10.
Instructor: Lisa Brooks
Duration: 6 weeks
Cost: $129 (20% discount for members who worked 20 volunteers hours in 2017)

Upcoming Classes

 

Sniff ‘n Go

We are busy planning our next few Sniff ‘n Go events. We will post details here when finalized.

Hold the dates: AKC Scent Work Trial November 25 and 26, 2017.

Instructor Bios:

Judy McPartland, OTCPBC scent Work Coordinator, is a member of OTCPBC, the Iowa City Dog Obedience Club (AKC), 4RK9s (UKC), Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) and the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association (ESSFTA). She is an approved AKC Scent Work Judge. She owns three English Springer Spaniels with whom she competes in NACSW, UKC and PSD nose work and AKC Scent Work.

Lisa Brooks is an experienced NACSW nosework enthusiast, approved AKC Scent Work Judge, the proud handler of terrier mix UCD Janie SuchADog NW3 Elite. Lisa is currently training with Jack NW2. She recently moved to FL from NJ, where she was privileged to train with experienced NACSW Judges and Certifying Officials who are experienced professional detection dog handlers.

Club member Marti Hohmann CPDT-KA has been training dogs professionally for 15 years. Currently she coordinates the Prison Pups training program offered by New Horizons Service Dogs at two area institutions. Both of her dogs, Lark and Fizz, have earned the NW2 title. Fizz is the recipient of multiple placements in AKC, UKC, and PSD trials, including several High in Trial awards.

Lauren Walsh is a member of OTCPBC. She is active in NACSW, UKC Nosework and Performance Scent Dog trials with her two Cocker Spaniels and is currently preparing to compete with them in AKC trials. She is an approved AKC Scent Work Judge.