Griffin does not do well with nose-related-activities. It’s been very hard to train him those kinds of tasks and it’s one of the reasons our obedience trials are on hold. We’re part of a group that holds nosework trials through the UKC program. There are 5 (maybe more?) levels of competition and four events in each level. The dogs go through a designated area and find a specific, hidden scent. In this level/program, the first one is birch oil.
Viktor has limited options for dog activities we can do together due to his legs/structure. Nosework was going to be an option and we’ve been working on it for quite a while. And he doesn’t seem to be catching on easily. He has a lot of trouble focusing on activities and quickly spirals into his favorite behaviors. Calm and focus is not a current strength.
About a month before the trial I tried Griffin during a session to see what would happen and he seemed to catch on very quickly. We ended up entering the trial and did all 8 runs for the first level.
On several of the runs he did obvious ‘indications’ of laying down or freezing with his nose at the location. And other times he was not as specific but obvious/persistent about what he had found. We got 8/8 passes, including two “High in Trial” for fastest time in that level.
Nosework is very popular in many parts of the country and here. While almost any kind of dog trial/event is fun, I still prefer obedience and agility and the kinds of skills training there is more fun to me. I also like being able to watch other teams – which is not allowed in nosework – to prevent someone from accidentally giving away where the scent is. I’m very glad we had the experience and I may still continue to work with Viktor for our next opportunity.
I do like that in the UKC program you only need 2 passes at a given level – this makes it possible to earn titles in a given weekend/event and I think two repetitions is a fair amount to demonstrate that a dog can do the task. As their program is still fairly new, some of the rules aren’t completely clear but it was overall a good experience and a nice opportunity to try something new.