K9 Nose Work – Training Program Description

Up Front Dog Center offers programs for Pet Obedience, Competition Obedience, Rally, Agility, K9 Nose Work, and Tracking. Which one you follow is based on your interests.

A dog relies on his or her sense of smell to interpret her world, in much the same way as people depend on their sight. K9 Nose Work is a new, exciting, detection-style sport that develops dogs’ natural scenting abilities by using their curiosity, desire to hunt, and their love of toys, food and exercise


Channel your dog’s keen sense of smell and love of sniffing into an activity you can do together.

K9 Nose Work, also called nose work, scent work, and hunt and search work, building confidence and focus in dogs, created and sanctioned by the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW). The activity is an offshoot of the training professional scent detection dogs (“sniffer dogs”) receive. A detection dog or sniffer dog is a dog that is trained to and works at using its senses (almost always the sense of smell) to detect substances such as explosives, illegal drugs, wildlife scat, currency, or blood.

It is an activity for all dogs of every age, breed and ability as well as for handlers of any age or experience. Nosework engages the hunt drive which accesses the parts of the brain that help to stimulate and focus the dog. It has a way of decreasing stress and at the same time will work on the mind and body. It is a fantastic confidence builder. Nosework doesn’t teach your dog to sniff or give them free rein to sniff when in other sports. Your dog already uses their noses. They are trained to engage in this behavior in the presence of target odors. Nosework hones the dog’s natural ability to drive and find the source of the order. So it is an instinct sport as well as a trained sport

Nose work encourages your dog to use his natural hunting drive and unique talent for picking up scents and locating the source.


Any dog with a nose can participate in nose work, so you don’t have to have a typical sniffer dog like a dachshund, German Shepard,  beagles, blood hoods, hunting breed or hound dogs. This sport is for all breeds and all temperaments, each participating with great enthusiasm and talent. So no matter what size any dog can catch a scent.

Basic obedience is not essential for learning nose work. The dog’s natural desire to “hunt” to develop focus and self-control. No prior training is required and your dog can be as young as 4 months. Basic obedience is not essential for learning nose work. The only skill that is essential for each dog in this sport is to be able to be left either in the car or in a crate and rest quietly while waiting for his or her turn.

This activity also promotes confidence and provides mental stimulation, ideal for shy, elderly or disabled dogs.


Teaching nose work to dogs in Introduction to K9 Nose Work begins with a hide-n-seek game involving cardboard boxes and treats. As training for K9 Nose Work advances to Introduction to Odor, Continuing Nose Work and Advanced Nose Work classes, dogs get to use their remarkable scenting abilities to find the scents of birch, anise and clove.

The first step in nose work training is to build a dog’s desire to hunt. Positive reinforcement is used for the dogs, while the owners learn how to read their pet’s unique hunting behaviors and signals.

The next step is to add different search settings while continuing to build the dog’s desire to hunt and the owner’s ability to read their dog’s behaviors and communication signals.

The third step involves continuing to build on the first two, and also communicating to the dog that one of the three target odors – essential oil of birch – is what he should hunt for.

Next, the dog is introduced to the other two target odors, essential oils of anise and clove.

In the final level of training, the dog continues to increase his desire to hunt for the target odors, and the working relationship between owner and dog is tested with progressively more challenging search scenarios.

There are levels of training beyond the initial five, with the highest level reserved for dogs who will go on to enter nose work competitions.

Canine Scent Work  Nose Work class is suitable for dogs of all ages, young and old. Dogs must be crate-trained since they must be crated when it’s not their turn – since each dog works alone, dogs do not have to be super-friendly with other dogs. Dogs enrolled are not to be people-aggressive or extremely dog aggressive.

K9 NoseWork

Ron Gaunt, Amy Herot and Jill-Marie O’Brien founded the NACSW™ to ensure the highest standard of excellence for competitors in the sport of K9 Nose Work® and to cultivate a community of enthusiastic dog lovers and dog sport competitors. Together, the three founders pioneered the concept of detection-style training and competition for pet dogs, finding great enthusiasm among dog lovers for their unique talents in developing and executing canine sporting events that truly bonded dog and human, and were lots of fun, too.

Click here for our K9 Nose Work program Class Descriptions.

Click here for the Class Schedule.

Click here for the AKC web site Scent Work page.