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© 2014 Laura Turner

*Click to view Nosework Rules
UKC Nosework updates
Nose Work Sheet by Susan Stramm as it has all changed in 2016

United Nosework was established in 2012 with a partnership between Karen A. Shivers & Andrew L. Ramsey
to promote the sport as a titling event with the United Kennel Club.
All dogs need to be UKC registered in order to participate.
Dogs and handlers of any breed, any age, any skill level, any physical ability may participate.
The goal is to give owners and dogs a sport in which they can maximize their potential working as a team
building their relationship and enjoying doing a physically non-demanding competitive, activity together.

~ Bijou Standard Poodles who have earned their Nosework Title as of June 2014 ~

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                Dare                                         Faith                                      Ula                                                Glory                                             Pepper                             

All you need to start out, is the 5 scents, scent holder, enticing treats they don't get every day, flat collar (no corrections in this), long lunge line
Eventually you will need cardboard boxes (unless this changes to plastic containers in 2015)
You can get all these essential oils at a health food store, or by ordering online.
After extensive reading, research and seminars, we decided it is our dog's best interest to train
using a scent cocktail. This is when a container will hold all of the 5 scents.
My rational is that, dogs can differentiate between individual scents (humans can not) so why not start out
training them to recognize and associate reward with all 5 target odours right away.

We start out with using one cardboard box flaps folded in. Inside we paired an irresistible treat that they don't usually get
but would die to have and our scent cocktail.
My goal is to get them to smell the scent and associate irresistible treat with it.
This should result in the dog running to the odour with the hopes of getting that treat.

These treats are along with our Scent "cocktail" which is the combination of all the 5 target scented Qtips in a vented container.
I line the bottom of all the boxes with a large plastic bag and place the treats in the "hot box" piled up say 20 pieces of hot dog.
Inside the box if you decide to put the reward in a metal bowl then ensure all other boxes also have that metal bowl
This is now called the "hot box".

I start the dog on leash and flat collar (no corrections) around 10 feet away from the box
I strap on the flat collar which makes a click noise and give the command "SEARCH"
The dog won't know what he is doing and that is fine as I'm just going to follow him and keep my feet moving
so that I don't give the dog any Q's. The dog will eventually hit on the box and will eventually put their head in there to self reward.
This head in the box behaviour, I praise and drop more reward into the box, keeping their head in the box and praising.
When or if the dog lifts the head out all praise stops. My goal is to keep the dog riveted inside the box.
If the dog can tolerate it, I will come up behind and pat them too.
Before all the treat is gone I will gently move away from the box with the dog, keeping him keen to go back for more.
I restock the box and repeat a couple times until the dog is dragging me to the box.

Next I add two empty boxes 12 inches apart and I play the "shell game" with the dog, changing the position of the "hot box" after each find.
As the dog gets more confident I add more boxes and also move them around and not in a straight line.
I never want my dog to fail so I only add a degree of difficulty as they can handle it by succeeding.
IF my dog fails by not finding the scent or offering me behaviour then I know I have moved too fast and
I'm expecting too much from them and I have to start all over again with my training.

As the dog is totally confident now I can gently close the lids on the boxes.
I will also now be asking the dog to "down" for the "indicator" of scent
When dog downs I will pause, praise and then release with a "yes" and give treats above and on the box.
OR When the dog finds the "hot-box" another option is to immediately open the lid and allow the dog to self-reward on the food.
The problem with the food reward being in the box is that you risk the dog destroying the box to get to the treat.
In the trial if a dog destroys the box they disqualify.
The problem with treat coming from owner, is that the dog will loose focus on the boxes.
This is why it is important for the dog to focus on that box and the reward that comes with that scent location
So plus and minus with each reward.

When the dog has finished self-rewarding, drop anywhere from 5 to 40 pieces of food into the box one piece at a time (i.e. "supplementally-reward")
Keep the amount unpredictable but the reinforcement over odour should be more, not less, in this early stage.

You are imprinting value on the odour, so make it a super strong association with heavy reinforcement.
Also, make sure that the hand that is dropping the food into the bowl does not move further away from the top bowl than 2 inches
because you want the dog's nose to stay in the top bowl and not swivel back and forth following the hand that is dropping in the food.
The dog must learn that he gets the food in the bowl in the box, and not from your hand and start to orient to the bowl more and more.
Each time you repeat this training, the dog will be inhaling the odour of birch (or anise or clove or your scent cocktail) as the dog is self-rewarding
and then being supplementally-rewarded. The longer you have the dog inhaling the odor while he is being rewarded the stronger the association
between the odor of birch or your scent cocktail, the food reward will become.

In time, by doing this, the dog associates the odor of birch (or anise or clove or scent cocktail) with that food reward (or toy)
and the dog learns to love the odor just as if it were the reward-food. This is pure classical - i.e. Pavlovian - conditioning at its best.
And we condition in this concept that "odor is important" in the context of HUNTING for the odor right from the beginning.
If done correctly, you should end up with a dog that eagerly hunts for the odor of birch or all 5 scents if you are doing a scent cocktail
and pushes toward source when the find is made.

Target Odor = Essential oils that are used in United Nosework as target scents for dogs to search.
Target odors are as follows for
United Nosework Titles:
Pre-Trial 1 (PT1) - Birch
Pre-Trial 2 (PT2) - Anise
Pre-Trial 3 (PT3) - Clove
Pre-Trial 4 (PT4) - Myrrh
Pre-Trial 5 (PT5) - Vetiver

UKC Nosework Titles:
PTN-Nosework Pre-Trial Novice (Birch)
PTA-Nosework Pre-Trial Advanced (Anise)
PTS-Nosework Pre-Trial Superior (Clove)
( 1 ) PTM-Nosework Pre-Trial Master (Myrrh)
( 1 ) PTE-Nosework Pre-Trial Elite (Vetiver)

To get the "Pre-Trial" title for each target odour a dog must indicate the box with the target odour in it
out of the 12 boxes lined up in a row for each of the 5 Target scents.

Level 1 - Birch Sweet Oil - Betula Lenta - Novice Nose Work Level 1 (NW1)
Level 2 - Aniseed Oil - Pimpinella Anisum - Novice Nose Work Level 2 (NW2)
            Level 3 - Clovebud Oil - Eugenia Caryophylatta or Syzgiium Aromaticum - Novice Nose Work Level 3 (NW3)
Level 4 - Myrrh Oil - Commiphora Myrrha - Novice Nose Work Level 4 (NW4)
Level 5 - Vetiver Oil - Vetiveria Zizanoides - Novice Nose Work Level 5 (NW5)

Containers for your scents can be spice containers, pill bottles with holes which you can find at dollar stores
Scent is applied to the tips of Qtips, or on a piece of paper towel and placed in a aerated container.

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You can buy nosework "kits" online off of Ramsey's site, amazon, leerburg or
in Canada from
or just buy the oils from any of the health food stores or online.

Each Level requires a Pre-trial (which is a recognized title)
Level 1 Pre-Trial title = PT1

A Pre-Trial entails a a dog indicating which of the 12 lined up boxes contains the required Target scent for that level
Your dog has 3-5 minutes to indicate to you and for you to call "ALERT"
You only have to pass this one time, to complete the requirement for your "pre-trial" Title
Your dog is not required to have an obvious indicator for Pre-Trial Level 1
(Indicator can be sit, down, paw, stare) but you will have to read your dog and call "ALERT".

A person may choose to only complete all the required Pre-trials for each level or
proceed all the way through Level 1
You can not proceed through any of the levels, until you have successfully completed the "pre-trial" for that level.

Novice Nosework Individual Element Classes

Each level will consist of the same Elements (i.e. searches), with just the Target Scent changing for each Level.
Your dog will need a distinguishable "indicator" such as a sit or down for the judge to see, indicating to you your dog found the scent
for higher levels beyond level 1. There is no required order to complete each of these Elements (searches).

One scent for each level.
One "hide" for each level
Handler must call "ALERT" when they feel their dog has found the odour
Maximum time is 3-5 minutes allowed
The search is scored and timed
12 Cardboard boxes are in a row
No external distractions
One box containing odour

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100-150 square foot search area
1 hide of birch
hide no higher than 2 feet
no intentional distractions

3 vehicles in a line
1 hide of birch
in a front bumper
hide no higher than 2 feet
No intentional distractions

200-400 square foot search area
1 hide of birch
hide no higher than 2 feet
no intentional distractions



Foundation of Nosework with Andrew Ramsey

UKC nose work Nose Work Facebook Group
United Nose Work
Andrew Ramsey Nose Work Training
Online nose work videos
Leerburg UKC Nose work scent kit also available on amazon (free shipping)
The National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW)
(official sanctioning and organizing body for the sport of K9 Nose Work)

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