Preparing for Nosework Lessons

Photo of a lovely Shepherd waiting for his turn to do a search

Whenever you’ve scheduled a nosework lesson, it is critically important to bring a hungry dog with his highest value treats, (not the usual dry dog food dinner or kibble). Some favorites might include: rotisserie chicken, tuna brownies, heart, and cubed deli meat like bologna. If he loves a toy, bring it too, but we generally prefer to train using food rewards as it allows more repetitions in a shorter period of time.

To motivate a dog to do nosework, great food rewards are critically important. Class is a new, exciting and distracting environment and not all dogs will feel comfortable. Especially when a dog feels overwhelmed, he may spit out the treats you offer and focus on the environment. If the dog spits out the treats, then the treats are not rewarding enough in this environment. So if you bring fabulous treats, you increase your chances of success.

During your searches, your hungry dog should wear a buckle collar or tracking harness, ideally with a 10-15 ft. biothane leash. We can make it work with shorter leashes of other types, but you might notice minor issues like nylon leashes tend to burn your hands when your dog pulls ahead on leash.

Let the instructor know if your dog has any allergies, or is reactive. Please note that aggressive dogs can learn nosework, but are not suitable for classes, as they can focus on learning in a less distracting environment.

During lessons, you are the handler. The instructor is the dog trainer. All have specific roles in nosework. The instructor will talk you through the process at your lessons, but if you want to learn more now, read our other blog posts.

About carlalsimon (84 Articles)
Dr. Carla Simon is a Scent Detection Instructor, Certifying Official (UKC Nosework), and President of Sniff Alberta. She’s been breeding and training scent dogs for Hunter’s Heart since 1999. Carla's evidence-based, motivational training has helped hundreds of scent dogs to reach their potential, with target odors ranging from human scent to bed bugs. Follow her Nosework & K9 Scent Detection Blog at:

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