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K9 Nose Work is good scents


Dogs learn detective work using their keen sense of smell at K9 Nose Work.

Dogs learn detective work using their keen sense of smell at K9 Nose Work.

“I don’t trust people who don’t like dogs, and I totally understand when dogs don’t trust people.” That’s one of the many quips being shared on social media these days. If you agree with it, then the K9 Nose Work Seminar in Des Moines this weekend might be for you.

“The seminar being offered is for people and their dogs who already have been introduced to K9 Nose Work. However, auditing spots are for anyone,” said Renee Jetter, owner of Canine Craze, where the seminar is being offered. “This includes the seasoned handler who does better by watching and learning to the curious dog owner who wants to learn more about what K9 Nose Work is and if it is something they might want to do with their dog.”

K9 Nose Work is a canine scent-detection activity where dogs learn how to search for a specific odor or odors and find the source. The specific odors used by the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW) are birch, anise and clove. Before competing in a Nose Work Trial, all dogs must pass an Odor Recognition Test (ORT). In an ORT, 12 identical boxes are lined up in two rows of six. Only one box contains the scent, and the dog has three minutes to identify it.

Like any sport, training comes before the competition. Jeff McMahon, a Certified Nose Work Instructor from Minnesota, is putting the syllabus together for the seminar. McMahon has helped numerous dog-and-handler teams grow their bond and find success in K9 Nose Work. Many of his students have earned the Harry Award, recognizing rescue dogs who show exceptional skill and spirit in K9 Nose Work.

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“McMahon has been at the national competition with his own personal dogs and has learned about teaching this sport from the founders out in California,” Jetter said.

Ultimately, handler and dog each benefit from the training. Handlers get to participate in an activity with their dogs that involve the canine’s natural scenting and hunting instincts. Often this leads to a stronger relationship between handler and dog.

“We also see an increase in self-confidence and a decrease in inappropriate or destructive behavior from the dogs, because they now have a job or, better stated, a purpose in life,” Jetter said. “You can teach a dog of any age. As long as they are physically capable, they can do nearly anything. It’s building a relationship with that dog through training that’s important.” CV

David Rowley is an Iowa native with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa and a master’s in film journalism from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.


WHEN: Jan. 24-25, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. each day with an hour for lunch at noon. Registration closes Jan. 23-24.
WHERE: Canine Craze Performance Center, 3101 104th St., Suite 3, Urbandale
COST: Working spot, $100 — Limited to 10 dog-handler teams, welcoming all ages and levels of training. Dogs must be non-reactive and non-aggressive to unfamiliar people and must be able to stay quietly in a crate. Auditing spot, $40 — Limited to 40. Many people learn best when attending a seminar without their dog, so they can focus on the content being taught rather than the behavior of their own dog.
WHAT TO BRING: Notebook and pen, lunch or lunch money. Working participants need five different kinds of soft pea-sized and smelly treats, a crate, a water bowl and any other equipment necessary for their dog. Dogs should not be fed before participating in this seminar.


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