GLADSTONE, Mich. (WZMQ) – Dogs are putting their sniffers to the test September 23 and 24 at the Upper Peninsula Dynamic Dogs Nosework Trials.
Nosework is a sport in which dogs compete to find certain scents.
“Just like police dogs can find drugs or bombs, these dogs can find a scent,” said nosework instructor Jean Lyle. “We just have certain scents that we are training our dogs to find and then they find them in boxes or outside on vehicles.”
Dogs of all breeds can learn how to do nosework. According to Lyle, training a dog takes about six weeks.
“We just start off with one open box with the scent in it,” Lyle explained. “Every time the dog shows interest in it, we start treating them like crazy, letting them know, ‘Finding that scent was the best thing you’ve ever done.’ After they understand the smell that they’re supposed to find, we can start closing up the boxes or hiding it in different places, like on chairs or on the wall or under the couch.”
Cowboy Bleu is one of the dogs competing this weekend. His trainer, U.P. Dynamic Dogs secretary Kristin Bourdeau, says teaching a dog to seek out a scent requires a big time commitment and consistency.
“Baby steps, starting off slow,” she said. “If they start getting confused, we just start over from the beginning. It is an easy sport to practice at home because you can set out some hides, do some housework, and the dogs are just raring to go. They love to look for their stuff.”
While Cowboy Bleu is involved in several different sports, nosework is his favorite.
“Even though other sports get him moving actively and exercising, this one works his brain,” said Bourdeau. He actually gets more tired from doing nosework than other sports.”
Some dogs do nosework for fun, while some incorporate it into other aspects of their lives.
“Some people find antler sheds,” Bourdeau said. “One of our dogs in the club finds morel mushrooms, but he was a nosework dog first.”
Either way, nosework gives dogs a chance to take the lead.
“We don’t know where the scent is; the dogs do,” Lyle said. “It’s so much fun to watch them figure out what we want them to do and then go find what we want them to find and let us know that they found it.”
The public is invited to watch the Nosework Trials at Delfab Inc., located at 103 North 12th Street in Gladstone. The event begins at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.