Megan Brooking so enjoyed seeing her dog, Brophy, have so much fun sniffing out hidden objects in a canine nose-work clinic that she decided to get the certification and start offering the classes.
“I took my first K9 Nose Work class with my own dog about three years ago and was in love with the activity immediately,” she said. “It wasn’t just the fun I was having with my own dog that made me fall in love with it, but also the transformation I saw in some of the more timid dogs in the class.”
Brooking owns Extraordinary Canines and offers services in Langley and eastern Surrey, including hosting nose work clinics through Markeyda’s Pet Grooming. A new six-Sunday class started this month. Nose work isn’t about preparing a family pet to be a crime fighter, trailing murderers and escaped convicts through the brush. It’s about giving dogs an enrichment activity.
“It’s perfect for such a broad range of dogs. We have dogs from so many backgrounds taking part. Breed, size, and previous training don’t matter in K9 Nose Work. It’s really great for any dog,” she said. “I think some owners think that it’s a sport for breeds like German shepherds or meant for scent hounds, but there’s chihuahuas out there playing games with equal success.”
After seeing the enjoyment in her own dog, she now gets to see dog owners awaken to the incredible animal at the end of the leash.
“I love watching as cautious, shy dogs come out of their shell, playing nose work games and seeing those ‘crazy’ high energy dogs learning to focus on a specific task,” Brooking commented. “It’s also amazing for older or injured dogs that can’t partake in highly physical sports; this sport is very low impact but still incredibly enriching. And one more perk to K9 Nose Work is that dogs that don’t get along with other dogs can participate. Dogs take turn searching one at a time, so if your dog isn’t suited to other classes because he can’t work around other dogs, he would be welcome in a K9 Nose Work class.”
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Humans may tend to forget just how important the sense of smell is in the dog world.
“Dogs’ noses are between 10,000 and 100,000 times more powerful than human noses, so they’re naturals,” she said. “The human half of the K9 Nose Work team learns a lot through observing their dog work. We’re really just providing an opportunity for the dogs to take advantage of their innate scenting abilities.”
In addition to giving people an activity with their pooches that the dogs enjoy, the activity has added benefits beyond fun.
“They ‘see’ the world through scent in ways that us humans can hardly fathom,” she explained. “Sniffing is enriching but can also be de-stressing. Scenting activities are a great way to exercise dogs as it hits both mental and physical sides of the coin. We also have a lot of great research showing the benefits of scenting activities. A study published earlier this year compared heelwork [obedience] training to nose work training. It revealed that dogs that underwent nose work training were more optimistic than the ones doing the more traditional obedience type training – Pretty cool stuff.”
She continues to do nose-work events with her dog and is finding working with four-legged companions is making dollars and scents.
“I continue to train my dog and regularly attend nose-work sporting events with him. We’ve earned a number of titles from various organizations,” Brooking said. “I decided to undergo certification to teach K9 Nose Work just this year and started teaching others the fun activity of K9 Nose Work here in Langley this past spring. I am also teaching K9 Nose Work classes is South Surrey with Ocean Park Dog Training and in North Vancouver out of Bravo Dog.”
Brooking said people can start to see the world through their dog’s eyes by watching them on walks.
“I think as dogs are becoming a more integrated part of the family that the importance of enrichment is slowly becoming more understood by average pet owners and more information about the importance of sniffing is trickling out there,” she said. “That said many owners still are unaware of the benefits or if they are they don’t know how they can use sniffing as a form of enrichment. Even something as simple as giving your dog opportunities to sniff on their walks can really make a difference.”