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Written by
Ed Frawley

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Introduction to Nosework

Check out all of our Nosework videos!

Last week (December 2011) we began filming a series of training DVDs with Andrew Ramsey on nosework training for pet dog owners. In the coming weeks and months, we will be featuring newsletter videos and training DVDs on nosework training.

The basic concept of this new dog sport is that people can train their household pet to be detector dogs that indicate on legal odors. What's cool about this dog sport is that dogs of any breed, size and temperament can easily be trained to compete in nosework competitions.

Dogs do not have to have any prior obedience training to do this work, and the training has zero effect on dogs that are being trained for other dog sports – like agility or competition obedience.

Nosework training is 100% motivational training. There are absolutely no corrections at any level of the work, which is why with the right training every dog can be trained to for nosework comptitions.

While narcotic detection dogs and military working dogs indicate on the odor of narcotics and explosives, nosework dogs are trained to indicate on legal odors – specifically the odor of Birch, Anes, or Cloves.
The interesting thing is that the training for narcotic detection dogs or military explosive dogs is exactly the same as it is for nosework dogs.

In fact, Andrew Ramsey has taken his experience in training military detection dogs and broken the training steps down in much simpler smaller training steps than what police service dogs or military working dog trainers use on their dogs. 

The result is that pet dogs that would never in a million years would be able to be trained as a police service dog or military working dog can become very very good nosework competitors. In fact we see dogs with environmental or social behavioral problems become very good nosework dogs.

This concept of nosework as a dog sport began on the west coast and is growing rapidly. Right now there is one organization in which people can compete. It is growing so fast it won’t surprise me if other organizations evolve.

Andrew Ramsey is a professional dog trainer who lives in the bay area of San Francisco and specializes in training nose work dogs and some police service dogs.

Before going into business for himself in 2010, Andrew spent 6 years working for the department of defense in the military working dog program at Lackland air force base in Texas. For those who are not aware,  the Lackland training facility is where the military and TSA train their service dogs.

Andrew is a friend of Michael Ellis, whom we have produced many excellent training DVDs with and it was Michael  who recommended Andrew to us and suggested we produce these nosework videos with Andrew.

Andrew has studied Michael's training program. He incorporates marker training and many of the concepts in the Ellis food and tug DVDs in his nosework.

Andrews training program is a reward based training system. This means the dog learns that if it finds and indicates on the desired odor it will get a high value reward. Which reward the dog gets depends on the individual dog. Some dogs like a tug, some dogs like a toy and some dogs work best for food.

The first training DVD that we do with Andrew will teach people the foundation of this work. We show new pet owners exactly how to test their dog to determine which reward system to use. We will go into a great deal of detail to teach handlers of different types of dog how to set up their training for success.

We are going to explain how to set up a training area and how to introduce the dog to odor. New trainers will learn how to establish a search pattern that the dogs learn and how to teach a focused response when the dog finds the odor.

Check out all of our Nosework videos!

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