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  • Hilary Burns
    Hilary Burns

    Nose Work, Try-It!

    Nose Work—or Scent Work—is the fastest growing dog sport right now for many reasons, but the #1 reason is that it is super fun for the dogs, and it allows them to use their natural instincts in ways that very few other dog sports allow.

    Scent work also allows the human into the dog’s world of scent, which is incredibly fascinating and far superior to a human’s scenting ability. It is beautiful and amazing to watch and learn about how a dog “sees” the world through their nose.

    Try It Workshop

    CRCTC will be offering a workshop with Terri Spaeth-Merrick, CNWI on August 28 to introduce nose work to those unfamiliar with it.

    • August 28,2022, 8:00 am until noon. 
    • Portland Metro Arts, 9003 SE Stark St. Portland, OR
    • 12 "working" spots for dog+handler ($35)
    • 12 "audit" spots for handler only ($10)

    Signup Information 

    Link to reservations pageRegistration until August 5 will be open to Cairns only; from August 6 registration will be open to all interested dog folk until all spots filled.

    Register for either a Working (dog + handler) or an Auditor  (observer, no dog) spot.

    Note: to encourage participation by the greatest number of handlers if entries fill early handlers registering more than one dog may be asked to move dogs to a waitlist to create more spots for handlers.

    At the Workshop

    The day will start with a short talk about what Nose Work is and you will be given some general info handouts.  Following orientation there will be live demonstrations by a couple of local Cairns that are currently competing in the sport at various levels so you can see what the sport looks like in action.  

    After the presentation and demonstrations those who reserved working spots will get a chance to try nose work at the very beginning stages using just food/treats (called "Primary") for the dogs to hunt for.

    Each dog is worked individually with no other dogs in the space, so your dog will need to be comfortable waiting in the car between turns.  You are encouraged to come in and watch the other dogs take their turns.  You will get 3 turns. 

    Auditors will be able to watch all the demos and try-it runs. In many ways it is easier to observe subtle behaviors in someone else's dog without the distraction of handling!

    Coming and Going

    If you are bringing a dog to the event please make sure you have shade cloth or other items to keep your car cool if the weather on that day should require it (pop up tents are OK as long as it is not windy or you have weights for it).  

    Car windows can be cracked but not down far enough that a dog could escape from your car.  

    The parking lot is fenced but will not be locked as teams will be going in and out of the gate regularly.

    If the weather is really hot and you have a folding crate we may be able to crate some dogs inside in a different area of the building, but it would be best if they can stay in your vehicle where they are likely more comfortable.  

    There will be potty areas within the fenced parking lot, but dogs will need to be on-leash at all times (except possibly when they are working the try-it portion).

    After the Workshop

    The fun part of this workshop is you can take the basics that we start you with and continue playing the game in its most basic form at home.

    If you want to do more than fun searches with food or a toy, Terri would highly recommend taking classes either in person or on-line as there is a lot of subtlety, nuance, and skill to be built in both the dog and handler if you decide to transition the dog to hunting for a specific odor such as the ones used for competition. 

    Notes About Nose Work

    Nose work is not a group sport for the dogs.

    Any dog can participate in the sport: young dogs—even puppies, vibrant and active dogs, dogs who are competing in other sports, conformation dogs, old dogs, 3-legged dogs, dog with wheels, blind or deaf dogs, dogs who are shy or fearful of their environment, even dogs who are reactive to other dogs. (The exception is dogs who may be people-reactive in a threatening way, and even they can play the game at home in a safe environment.)  As long as a dog likes food/treats, or has a very high toy drive, they can play!  

    Nose work is perfect for a cold blustery day when going on that walk is a bit daunting—just pull out your treats (or specific odor), set up a couple of searches, and you will tire out your dog both mentally and physically.

    It is truly a sport that allows all dogs to play the game. Competition may not be in the cards for some dogs, but all can learn and play and most importantly benefit mentally and physically while having tons of fun.  Shelters and Humane Societies who are using nose work as an activity for the dogs they are housing have much higher adoption rates because those participating dogs develop confidence and are happier overall, which in turn makes the dog more adoptable.

    Playing the basic nose work game at home with your dog does not require a lot of physical work from the handler other than basic mobility and some bending to handle and move boxes on the floor.

    If competition is in your sights, you would need to be relatively mobile and flexible and even then the level of competition can be chosen to suit to your abilities.  If competing at the highest levels some fitness and endurance is required to keep up with the pace of advanced competition.  At any level it is great for the handler’s mind and observation skills.

    About Terri Spaeth-Merrick, CNWI

    Terri has been participating in the sport of Nose Work since 2009.  Her Berners Juniper Snow (current dog), and Peaches and Ochoco (both now passed on), have each earned multiple overall HIT and/or top three placements and many individual search element top three placements.  Team Peaches reached the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW) Elite-Champion level and at the time was one of the top 25 dogs in the country!  Peaches also was invited to the NACSW National Invitationals competition in 2015, which only 40 dogs were selected for; in 2017 when Peach was 9 yrs. she missed that opportunity by 1/2 point!  Peaches also competed at the Summit Level in 2018, which is a grueling 2-day competition where search areas are huge and the times are short—picture having to find 8 hides (each with only two or three tiny Q-tip heads in a 1” tin) in 8 minutes in a 58,000 sq. foot football field and section of stadium!  Terri’s other Berner Ochoco almost reached her NW3 Elite title status at age 9.5, sadly she passed away a week before the event, she was hunting and having fun up until a few days before her passing.  Her newest Berner, Juniper Snow, at 2.5 yrs. old, is now competing at the NW3 level; passing NW1, NW2 and NW3 on their first try at each level, along with titling in multiple EST trials and AKC Scent Work trials.  Between her three Berners Terri has achieved over 50 titles in the sport of Nose Work/Scent Work.

    Terri has been an NASCW CNWI (Certified Nose Work Instructor) since 2016; but has taught the sport to dogs from beginning to elite levels since 2012.  She has attended dozens of workshops and seminars on the sport, taught many workshops, hosted many official competitions and fun events, and has videoed/watched well over 10,000 dogs working in a trial setting. Many of her students are achieving excellent results in competition with high marks from the judges, as well as having lots of fun with their dogs!

    Terri is an NACSW Certifying Official for competition, an NACSW Judge, an AKC Scent Work Expert Judge/Certifying Official, a UKC NoseWork Judge/Certifying Official and a USCSS Nosework Judge

    NoseWorkTrial.com is Terri's web site and a great source of information about nose work.


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