K9 Nosework Anyone?


Well-Known Member
and with the understanding the human's poining, Max does that, my wife taught him to kill spiders for her as she is deathly afraid of them, and with me being national guard, i get deployed from time to time, so I'm not always there to kill spiders. She just points at the spider and says "Max, kill the spider!" and he runs over to where she is pointing and kills it! (He's such a big mommy protector!):love::rolleyes:


Honored Member
lol, my dog does same thing for me tapping my foot, he knows that is a cue to come eat some crumb i've dropped!:ROFLMAO:

Many dogs naturally understand the human point,
a dog lover like you might enjoy this film:
(somewhere in this film, is discussion of dogs who do understand a point, no other creature does, not wolves, not wolves raised by humans,
and not even monkeys) Only dogs seem able to understand a human point!!!
^pull up 2 chairs, make some popcorn and enjoy the film.



Honored Member
Forgot to mention one thing, and Tigerlily, I know you, of all people, will appreciate this. This sport is so welcoming to reactive dogs. Yes, they do work alone (with their handlers of course), but dogs are kept in their cars, for instance, during class, and only one dog is out at a time. During trials, when of course, a whole parking lot is full of cars, canopies, crates, dogs, people, etc, all coming and going - reactive dogs (meaning dogs reactive to other dogs, or people, or both) have their own section so people are much more aware and careful, all reactive dogs wear red bandanas (and some people will wear them also, as a little added "red flag", so to speak), and dogs (any dogs) cannot be within (I believe - I'm drawing a blank without looking it up in the official NACSW rules) 10' of another dog. Of course, all dogs must be crated, secured, etc..... rules are extensive. They've covered as much as is possible to make it as comfortable as possible for everyone. This is one sport where reactive dogs can and do participate, and it's so great for them - because they can do it comfortably, without getting all revved up and possibly thrown over threshhold and 'ready to fire', and without having to look at other dogs in close proximity.

It's been a lifesaver for my two - for Makena for all the reasons mentioned above, and for Alf (cuz he loves other dogs) because he's a special needs guy and really couldn't participate in anything else, doesn't do well at trick training, but his nose surely works!! :)

There are lots of senior dogs doing Nosework also - they move slowly, but I've seen some amazing seniors out there. Heck, they're sometimes much more focused than the younger dogs - maybe been there, smelled that, don't need to run around and make a fool of myself, just go do my business :LOL: with them, don't know - but some, altho moving slowly and some very carefully, still have good search times (remember, the clock is always ticking), cuz they're not wasting their movements like some younger dogs, still trying to get some fast exploring in while searching. Aaahhh, the wisdom of years, huh? :rolleyes:


Honored Member
//"This is one sport where reactive dogs can and do participate, and it's so great for them - because they can do it comfortably, without getting all revved up and possibly thrown over threshhold and 'ready to fire', and without having to look at other dogs in close proximity. "//

wow, I HAD NO IDEA!!! WOW, i would LOVE to get Buddy in on this!! i had no idea they could make special provisions for one dog at a time!! However, since Buddy has already been playing "i find it, i get to pick it up" for so so so long, he'd probably keep doing THAT and flunk!!:ROFLMAO:


Honored Member
No no, that's where you're wrong - this would be a new 'game' with something Buddy has never smelled before - new rules, new 'ballgame'. :LOL: I bet he'd LOVE it!!!

Go here, and you can find out if there are any certified instructors in your area. If not, stay tuned, people are getting certified quickly, this is the fastest growing dog sport in the country right now - it's caught on like wildfire, which is fantastic!!

And p.s. - NO dog flunks!! :ROFLMAO: I've seen some dogs that were doubtful for other reasons, just blossom. I had the opportunity to assist at a few classes, and also took a friend's dog to a few sessions. There was a small chi mix who had just been adopted (well, several weeks prior to beginning class) - talk about SHY!!!!!! Omg, that dog was so shy it was pathetic. Our training director recommened Nosework, as the dog was spending all it's time at home under the furniture, not interacting with the other dogs, the people, nothing. Just a terrified mess, and not much sign of coming around. He just shook constantly, and was in a constant state of "terrified". I saw this dog's first night, and thought holy cow, this is unbelievable. The dog was a wreck. To begin, several (shallow) open boxes are scattered on the floor, and a food treat in placed in one box. All the dog has to do is check the boxes, and find the food. :LOL: This dog was, of course, terrified of the boxes. Our trainer put the food next to the box. Well, he saw the food, but was WAAAY toooo terrified to approach it, let alone eat it. She worked with that, and separated the box and food from the others, and let him get as close as he could, then fed him. (That alone took prob 15 min, and he got 3 passes at this -- the other dogs took maybe what, a min, tops?). The second week, it took him maybe 10 min each pass. The 3rd week maybe 4-5 min each pass - and by the 4th week, he was looking like all the other dogs in class (of course they were working with him at home, doing the box drills - very important, altho simple). They said he had started coming out from under the furniture more, and had started interacting a bit more with the other dogs also. I saw that dog about a month later, he looked like a totally different dog, full of confidence, just a little charger. He'd enter a room, and bam, go right to work. They said they were amazed, and if they hadn't seen it themselves, they might not have believed the change that dog went thru. Last I heard, he was still doing Nosework, and doing very well (he started about a year ago).

We've been parking next to a Doxie in the parking lot for the last 2 yrs, every Wed night. Funny, but I guess in all those weeks, Makena and Buster have been having their conversations. Buster is a very relaxed guy, loves everyone (dog and human alike) - and loves gopher hunting more. One day we both had our dogs out to potty, and were quite a distance apart - and Makena did everything but pull me on my face to get to Buster ..... thing is, she was so happy and relaxed, I knew it wasn't to snack on him! :ROFLMAO: Buster's mom saw her, and said to go ahead and bring her over - so I did. Omg, I think she's in love. :love: It's gotten to where now, if we have time, we'll let them have a few "stolen moments" and walk them together in the pasture before class. I don't tell her that Buster is way more interested in gopher holes than her, don't want to break her heart - but she's never actually wanted to go meet a dog before. Usually it's a process that I ask of her - just to attempt to keep a few of her skills up with any dog besides Alf. And I usually only ask her to get closer than her usual comfort zone, not actually meet. Don't know what she and Buster have been 'talking' about thru the car windows all these weeks, but obviously something. They may look like the odd couple, but hey, love is in the eye of the beholder, huh? And it's our secret, we don't tell Alfie. :LOL:


Honored Member
Loved your post, Jackie, i read it all twice, so so exciting, and i am so interested in learning more about nosework!

//"but she's never actually wanted to go meet a dog before"//

I TOTALLY understand your great joy at this breakthrough! I so celebrate this with you, and i am smiling so big right at this moment!!
I had Buddy for a year or more, :eek: doing tons of desensitization work around dogs,
before Buddy ever ever showed anything but aggression towards a new dog,
but wow,
once he did ever ever make his own friend, on his own, with no help from me,
wow, what a moment!!
Til then, i never ever ever thought it could ever ever happen.:eek: And with these dogs, Buddy can play very successfully off leash with these dogs, no problems. Just like 2 normal dogs playing!:eek::D

And since that moment, Buddy has begun to make more and more friends, on his own.:eek: For *me*, i can easily tell when Buddy will like a dog, cuz he whines, a soft lil whine. Whenever i hear *my* gangsta whine, i smile hugely!! YESsss!!!
Does your Makena do a lil whine, too? when she likes a dog? I AM NOW A HUGE FAN of my dog whining:ROFLMAO: when he sees a new dog, cuz for Bud, that means, "mom, i LIKE that dog, mom! can i play with it, mom? huh? huh? c'mon mom, lets go play with THAT dog!":ROFLMAO:

now, i can even make pretty good guesses, at which types of dogs Buddy will love,
and which types he has never ever yet ever liked on sight. Turns out, Buddy has his types. His far and away favorite, is young female dogs.
Next, my dog has some weird love for small white fluffy dogs. almost invariably will accept any and all small white fluffy dogs...(wha?:confused: )
He likes most GRs but not all, and some labs, but not all.
Buddy likes RUDE dogs, too, that "in your face" kind of pushy dog, Buddy loves 'em.:love:
All alphas get total respect from Buddy, although true alphas are few,
and all shy/insecure dogs are going to be bullied relentlessly by Buddy.:notworthy:

compared to when i first got him, having ANY types he likes is GRREAT! HA HA!!

and Buddy has his list of "hate 'em" dogs too,
all GSDs
and all chihuahuas, min-pins, and any other short haired skinny dog like min-pins (?)
are guaranteed reactions, unless i can prevent it.
Buddy also struggles to ever like any hyper spazzy dogs, too.


Honored Member
I've heard of so many ppl who say this type of training,
or that type of training,
helps da dogs, and shy dogs,
and they all share the enthusiasm of seeing their dog turn their issue dowwwwn,
whether it was doggie dancing
or agility
or tricks training
or herding lessons
or nosework
or sledding
or obedience
or flyball
or whatever...................

Each time the owner says, "Herding is great for da dogs cuz........."
"doggie dancing is great for da dogs cuz.........."
etc etc etc

i think it is the training itself that helps such dogs, imo. I think whatever the dog enjoys learning, or whatever that owner enjoys doing,
will help that particular dog, no matter what it is,
be it tricks being done amidst distractions,
or heelwork
or nosework
or agility,
whatever...i think da dogs and shy dogs NEED training more than almost any other type of dog, imo.


Honored Member
You're right that any/all training is so good for reactive dogs - but Nosework is the one sport that reactive dogs can actually participate in since they work alone. It's very hard for a reactive dog to do agility (as a sport, in class or competition - not talking about indiv at home w/owner) as the last thing anyone needs is a revved up reactive dog running around in a crowd of dogs.:eek: Same with musical freestyle - we tried it, but so many dogs in class, and Makena spent most of her time looking around and really had a hard time concentrating - and of course she had to tell a few dogs off during the course of the 6 wk session. :oops: Nosework is the one competitve sport where reactive dogs are welcomed - I don't know of another that is so welcoming.

No, Makena doesn't whine when she sees a dog she wants to meet - cuz really, she doesn't want to meet other dogs ..... just Buster. :love: That was a total shock. I do think that totally came about cuz they had been having their 'conversations' for a whole year-plus, so he wasn't a *new dog* to her. She did have a Choc Lab that she played with regularly for a few years in our neighborhood, but they moved away. They played beautifully together - hard and wild, but really well. They were about the same size and weight, so were a great match. I was so sad for her when they moved away. She LOVES to play, and Alfie doesn't (bad back end) altho she tries so hard to convince him occasionally. I've always found it sadly ironic - she's the one with the issues, but who LOVES so much to play play play, and he's the one who's so social and loves to meet other dogs, but has no interest in running and playing with the dogs he meets. :confused:


Honored Member
//"that reactive dogs can actually participate in since they work alone."//

ah, my dog does agility and doggie dancing and everything else alone. He can do his tricks and stuff around his doggie pals, too, but, it's a lot harder, and i usually have to wait til both dogs are about bored of each other to get Buddy's full attention.:rolleyes: but, in Buddy's defense, this isn't something i work very hard on, either, as i think buddy getting chance to play with his friends is a top priority, cuz he has so few.

Last night, Buddy and i practiced our doggie dancing routine in an empty fenced in school yard:LOL: ....my guy said Buddy did great, but, he thought if someone else was there that they'd probably wonder what the heck we were doing!:ROFLMAO: (we only have first stanza of song down pat so far:rolleyes: )
Sometimes we use tennis courts, basketball courts, or empty fenced-in cemeteries, or just fenced in fields. Everywhere we go, are bunny scents, too. My dog gets quite stoked to go anywhere, and is very excited just to go somewhere, anywhere! Even if it's only been an hour since Buddy went somewhere, he is just as excited to go yet another place!:ROFLMAO:

The more often i take Buddy places,
the more attentive Buddy is to me, too. odd.
also, he is more content, more happy dog in general, when he goes on outings often.

Of course, all dogs are unique, and i suspect all classes have different set-ups, but Anneke's one dog has some issues, yet, he participated successfully in an agility class a week or so ago! The photos and vids almost made my eyes water, knowing how wonderful that was for THAT dog to do the course so well, and be so calm, while other dogs sat around the field.

I sometimes wonder, if i found a class which allowed only one dog at a time, if i could have Buddy experience such a thing, too.

OH, i so understand your disappointment:( when one of your Makena's friends moved away, that just happened to Buddy, his best pal ever just moved away, big loss.

I wonder,
if your Makena will be like my Buddy,
and having chosen her own pal, without a lot of work from you at all this time, (Makena chose this dog, right?)
if she will be slightly more open--- every now and then, to choosing yet another doggie pal on her own. That's how it happened with Buddy....i was also shocked:eek: the first time Buddy ever ever loved a dog on sight, i had no idea that could even happen!!

but then, in months to follow, now and then, Buddy would again like some new dog on sight,no effort from me. It does not happen "often", nope, but, it DOES happen now,:eek:
every once in a while.

but all dogs are unique, who knows?
It might be just Buster,and no other dog,
but, who knows? keep me posted, i am so excited for Makena to make a pal! Even if you, Jackie, did not participate in helping Makena choose to like Buster,
imo, Makena even reaching the point where Makena was even open to the idea of liking a dog,
is probably due to all your efforts to bring Makena to that level of confidence, etc. I could be wrong, but, imo, this event was related to all your previous efforts to help Makena get new ideas about dogs.

and yeah, Buddy is exact same way,
IF he likes a dog,
Buddy plays very nicely with the dog, very successful play,:D
no problems. Everyone says da dogs have no social skills,
but, buddy DOES have social skills, who knew?:eek: He does just fine playing with his pals. One of his pals is a greyhound, who loves to chase/be chased, for hours and hours...
but buddy can NOT keep up with that dog, especially in the summertime heat,
and when Buddy lies down to rest, panting his head off for a few minutes,
the greyhound can't stand it, and does all he can to get Buddy back up and chasing....

The greyhound offers play bows, drops toys in front of Buddy, barks at Buddy, tries everything to get Buddy chase him,
and even humps Buddy,:rolleyes: trying to get Buddy to chase him.
When the greyhound humps Buddy, Buddy gets up, looks at greyhound, barks once,
and lies back down with his back to the greyhound. the greyhound now agrees, and wanders off sniffing, til Buddy is done panting, and leaves Buddy to rest a bit,
til the game resumes.

NO attack, no biting, no growl/snarl, no aggression at all, just a well-deserved, "knock it off, i'm catching my breath already! give me a minute! it's 90 degrees out here for dawg's sake!"

Buddy HAS lovely social skills, even deals with harassment appropriately:eek: ....it's "something else" for buddy anyway......


Honored Member
Makena does have good doggie skills, once she knows a dog -- it's getting her to that point. She lives happily with Alf, and when my mom passed away a few years ago, I took in her two old dogs (who Makena knew) and for a time, I had 5 dogs (I've lost 3 over the last 4 yrs). I had another dog, an older GSD/Golden mix, Sherman, when I adopted her - and she LOVED him to bits!!! (In fact, a lot of her reactivity started around the time Sherman died - and I've always wondered if maybe she was a bit afraid, but she leaned on Sherman and he was her 'rock' and her stability - and then when he died, she fell all apart?? Just speculation on my part, but something I've always wondered ... what if .... ??). Then Alf came along (shortly before Sherman died unexpectedly) as a foster, and stayed. She does have skills - it's just getting her over that initial 'hump', which is usually a long slow process with her. She's very much an alpha personality, and Alf is a "good time Charlie", real easy-going, just puts up with her stuff and couldn't care less. :ROFLMAO: They're so very close, they'd be lost without each other. Right now, they're laying here on the floor by me, practically wrapped up in each other. They're always touching, it's so cute - I love the way they are with each other. They've been that way from the very start, that's the main reason I kept Alfie (I sure didn't need another dog at the time, he was supposed to be a foster for ~ 2 mos) - but they got so attached to each other so quickly, I just couldn't bare to separate them. They're a match made in heaven, truly.


Honored Member
//"Makena does have good doggie skills, once she knows a dog -- it's getting her to that point."//

this seems to be the case for so many da dogs,
which goes against "they" often say "Da dogs just don't have social skills.":rolleyes:
seems some da dogs DO have great social skills, once they accept a dog.

//"and for a time, I had 5 dogs (I've lost 3 over the last 4 yrs)"//
OH NOooo, i didn't know this, Jackie, oh wow, i'm so sorry, wow, that has to be so heartbreaking, i'm so sorry..

//"(In fact, a lot of her reactivity started around the time Sherman died"//

How old was Makena at that time, do you recall? (LOVE the name "Sherman"!)

//"- but they got so attached to each other so quickly, I just couldn't bare to separate them."//
Lol, this sounds like YOU, Jackie!!:ROFLMAO: i would have felt same as you, i think! It sounds wonderful for both dogs:love: to have each other!!


Honored Member
//"She's very much an alpha personality,"//

buddy is so NOT an alpha, not really. nope.
He's da dog:mad: with most dogs, (which is NOT "alpha" behavior at all!!)
with dogs Buddy has accepted, Buddy is laid back, easy going dog, just one of the pack, not the leader. Just a pal...takes turns, even takes turns being on top/on bottom in playtime.


Honored Member
Makena must have been around 2-1/2 or so (roughly - again, rescue dog, so ?? and she was pulled from the pound with her puppy - her surrender papers <which I obtained> said she was 4, and both the rescue and my vet said no way!!! ). She was ok with other dogs when I adopted her, altho the guy who ran the boarding facility where the rescue boarded dogs, said she was a very dominant female (and he was a Cesar-like, aversive trainer). I'll tell you what I observed with her. She totally deferred to Sherman - who was about the most easy-going dog one could have ever hoped to be around. He was pure joy and love, and got along with every dog, always. But Sherman, maybe because it was just his way, or because ?? he would let her have anything she wanted, not sure. Sherman wasn't a pushover, but wasn't a fighter (ok, all he really wanted in life was his ball - and beyone that, life was just all good :LOL:). When my mom's old girls came into the house, they immed deferred to her - and Brandy (one of my mom's dogs) did tend to be pushy - but never with Makena. Her other girl, Bailey, was very submissive - as is Alfie. I never had dog-issues with them, tho (as far as aggressiveness - I had a whole barrel of other issues - a whole different thread altogether, sheesh!!!, you wouldn't believe it!!!). :eek::confused: About the time Makena's issues started, Alf was coming into the house, and we were in LA, we had met Alf, she had reacted badly toward another dog, the trainer over the kennel grabbed her leash and "corrected" her really really hard. I was stunned, but you know how fast things can happen (and this guy was huge) - he had basically grabbed her up off the ground in one hand, and the other 85+lb dog in the other hand (also up off the ground), and "corrected" them at the same time - think Emma Parsons' incident with Ben in "Click to Calm" (if you've ever read it). My stomach almost turned inside out. Makena was much much worse after that. I sought help from a trainer that came with such recommendations up here where I live (about 180 miles north of LA) - and she was worse than the guy in LA. After a short time with her (literally, minutes not sessions - I didn't stay for a whole session) I just left and said "I'll call you" when asked if I wanted to book future sessions), and she jerked Makena around. I left there and cried on the way home, and told Makena we'd find a better way -- cuz she was HORRID after that. I searched and searched and found Gentle Touch just 5 miles from home (that other trainer was about 15 miles away - sad when you drive 15 miles to get abused, huh?). Anyway, all that work, to get her only part of the way back to where she used to be. In hindsight, I think maybe she was a bit fearful, but took her cues from Sherman, and he thought life was fabulous. I think he was such a calming influence on her (and maybe the best teacher she could have had) - and sadly, he died quite suddenly of an hemangiosarcoma (he literally collapsed, and I lost him a few hours later). I often wonder if he had stuck around (and I had known more) if life could have been different for her. We'll never know. We'll just continue to do the best we can, and take this jourey together.

With people Makena is very biddable, she'll try to do whatever she thinks you are asking of her, and she loves to learn. With dogs, she is good at sharing, I've just noticed the other dogs did defer to her, as they will with an alpha dog - not because she ever beat up on them, but perhaps because some dogs emerge as more of a leader-type. My old GSD Heidi, was the dominant-type personality - I want what you have, so I'll take it from you, then drop it, just cuz I can. Not Makena at all. Maybe it's the 'looks', or ? Not sure. You know some dogs just have that 'alpha' ability. She doesn't roll dogs, nothing like that. And 'alpha' is such a fluid position anyway, as it always was with her and Sherman, and her and Alfie, depending on what they're doing. Just kind of a general difference between she and Alf.

This is just Makena's story. Don't want to totally derail this and turn this into yet another thread on reactiviy - am hoping one day someone else will be interested in Nosework!! :)


Honored Member
//"- think Emma Parsons' incident with Ben in "Click to Calm" (if you've ever read it)."//

yes, i read it, her first inkling her hand raised dog was going to be a da dog occurred at 9 mos old, and caught her totally off guard...in a narrow hallway, her well-socialized pup reacted to a dog...like all owners of da dogs of the times,

Emma is forced to think back to come up with "The Moment" that caused her dog to become a da dog for life.
My guess is, that 90% of owners of da dogs,
have "The Reason" their dog is a da dog, or a shy/reactive dog,
cuz they have all been told persistently da dogs are "caused" by some horrible event.....so like everyone else, Emma came up with "The Reason" too.

I did LOVE the book, but was never ever able to teach buddy "when i pull your collar, you become calm" nor have i met or heard of anyone else who was actually ABLE to teach a dog this,
but, i love the IDEA there!!
there are some studies which suggest pulling a dog's collar can actually cause an adrenaline rush in the dog's bloodstream, making being "calm" less likely for the dog, so maybe that is why like so many others, i failed to achieve what Emma did by pulling HER dog's collar...not sure, but, i failed. Were you able to teach Makena, "when i pull your collar, you become calm" like Emma said she did?

Interesting how different Makena's onset is compared to most da dogs onset, (at age 2) but, like i say, all dogs are unique! Many da dogs when new to a home, are super polite, and behave fairly well. Interesting that one moment ruined Makena's attitude for life,
when so so many dogs suffer entire lifetimes of abuse,
yet, stand there loving everyone and every dog. Yet, one terrible yank caused Makena to become a da dog for her entire lifetime, for years and years....wow. how terrible!!!!!!! I'M SO MAD AT THAT HORRIBLE DOG TRAINER who yanked on Makena!:mad:

I have also heard of a few da dogs,
who were rarely around UNKNOWN dogs til they were fully adult, :eek:

or rescue dogs who were rarely around UNKNOWN dogs til the owner had the dog for a while,
and then the owner reports "My dog's da behavior didn't occur til he went to dog school at age 2" or whatever, but, if questioned,
sometimes those owners admit--- prior to dog school, or prior to the time they first noticed it,
their pet was not often around unknown dogs very often.

but Makena is the dog to show, all dogs are unique.


Honored Member
how long was it,
from when you adopted Makena at age 2,
til Makena first displayed any da behavior to an unknown dog as a 2 year old?

a month?
several months?


Honored Member
Heaven only knows what her past was .... was she used as a breeder more than once? We'll never know. She def does NOT like advances by male dogs!!! :eek: Her boyfriend Choc Lab thought (who was not neutered) he may give it a try once - she surely laid that law down quickly!!! :LOL: Alf has never tried - I'm sure she told him she'd gnaw it off!! :ROFLMAO: While I don't know when the absolute 'moment' was with Makena, I do know that trainer was her tipping point (as was that trainer that threw Ben over the edge), and then the one that we went to to help us just pushed her over the cliff. Sad.

Here are a couple pics of my former 'crew' - one of Makena and Sherman, and one of them + Alfie and my mom's old girls.