Nose Knows...

15 Nov 2013 5:42 AM | Deleted user

(by Andrea Scolar)


Have you ever watched a movie where a drug or a bomb detection dog was performing a search looking for what he was trained for? What if your pet or champion Bullmastiff could do the same? Well, minus the illegal drugs and dangerous explosives of course!


The sport of K-9 Nosework is quickly gaining popularity in the dog owner community. It is similar to what police K-9 teams do on regular basis. Every dog has an excellent sense of smell, and training your Bullmastiff is easy because it always involves lots of treats and positive reinforcement. Unlike in other dog sport competitions, treat rewards are not only allowed but you can say, almost required.


Here are the basics… There are 4 element searches in a Nosework trial.

                       1) Containers – usually around 15-20 unmarked boxes (or different kinds of containers, like luggage in higher levels) that the dog has to search through and find the hide

                        2) Interior – room (or multiple rooms in higher levels) that could be a classroom, warehouse, etc. Interior searches are the most fun because you can usually let your dog go searching off-leash.

                        3) Exterior – an open area that includes a variety of surfaces

                        4) Vehicles – a group of 3 vehicles (or more in higher levels) not limited to cars only. It could be trailers, motorcycles, boats. The dogs search only their exterior.





There are 3 different levels. NW1 has only one target odor (birch) and there is only one hide per element. NW2 adds on another odor (anise) and there could be up to two hides per element. It could be either birch or anise or combination of both. NW3 is the highest and the most difficult level. Besides adding the final odor (clove), the handlers don’t know how many hides are put out in each element. It can be one, two or three. The interiors might also include an empty room. The third level is, I think, challenging more on the handler rather than the dog. The dog is doing the same thing it’s been doing in the lower two levels. It is the handler who has to know how to read his or her partner to have enough courage to call the number of hides.


So far, 6 Bullmastiffs in the entire US have titled in NW1 and 4 of them are loved by the CNBC’s members (Pippa & Jill, Tonka & Andrea, Maestro & Carrie and Logan & Kelley). Only one Bullmastiff team so far has obtained the NW2 title, and that is Pippa with Jill Roman.


All that said, Nosework is not only about competing. You can play with your dog without ever going to one trial. In classes, only one dog runs at the time, making it the perfect sport for shy or dog-reactive canines. It’s also great for senior or handicapped dogs. One thing I like about it is, that you can practice indoors on a rainy cold day, and the mental stimulation really wears out my unusually high energy Bullmastiff girl.


More information about Nosework, including list of certified Nosework instructors in your area, can be found on


Enjoy these photos from our members:

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