Agility and Nose Work (or Scent Work) are two very popular training classes that provide a great way for owners to connect to and bond with their dogs.
Agility is a fast-paced sport that has both dogs and their person running and navigating an obstacle course. (expect to get sweaty!) Agility requires dogs to use problem-solving skills to navigate the course while following their handler’s commands. It’s great for active dogs who love to run, jump, and climb, and it can be valuable for dogs who are shy or lack confidence, as it builds self-esteem and trust.
If you’re like us and have a dog who likes to goof off more than actually pay attention to training classes, agility can help with focus too. Some dogs (especially when they are young) have too much energy to stand still and succeed in group classes. We’ve done a few cycles of agility classes together and it’s a lot of fun – but he was young and definitely unfocused. But that’s ok because contrary to traditional obedience training, agility isn’t so much about stillness but more about focus while moving. We showed up week after week, even after a frustrating previous class (there were more than a few), and over time, Ditto’s maturity and focus really grew – we totally got into it!
Dogs who do agility get a great workout that helps build strength, endurance, and coordination. It’s also a great way to burn off excess energy and prevents destructive behaviours that stem from boredom or lack of exercise. It’s also a great mental exercise – the obstacles change each class, and running a new course every time requires them to think critically about how to navigate this new puzzle.
Nose Work is another popular activity that involves using their sense of smell to locate hidden objects. Nose work is based on training methods used by detection dogs in law enforcement – similar to search and rescue work, and has the dog seeking and finding scents hidden in various environments, both indoors and out. You start by getting your dog excited about using his brilliant sense of smell to search for a favourite toy or treat hidden in one of several boxes. As the dog gains more skill, specific scents are introduced and the search expands to larger rooms or outdoor locations.
Like agility, one of the big benefits of nose work is mental stimulation and it’s a great activity for dogs who are shy, reactive or lack confidence. Because nose work does not require physical contact with other dogs or people, it can be a great way to build a dog’s confidence and help them feel more comfortable in new environments. Dogs like having a job to do, and working collaboratively with you to find something hidden is a great bonding experience. We’ve just started to reach out to some trainers near us that offer nose work classes and we are eager to get started on this new adventure together. Maybe he can sniff out lunch for us next time we’re out camping – #sushi anyone?
Reach out – we’re here and happy to help.