Most of the U.S. is battling a heat wave as I write this. My dogs go out early in the morning for a romp, then we head back out after the sun has gone down for another play session. At 100 degrees and 85% humidity, it’s simply too miserable to spend any time outside.
Even resting quietly under the shade tree is too hot — the dogs beg to go inside as soon as they do their business.
Trouble is — it’s boring inside. There’s nothing to do.
I switched things up for my dogs today and set up a few birch hides. What’s a birch hide, you ask? It’s pretty simple — it’s an essential oil (betula lenta) on a cotton swab. That cotton swab is then placed into a straw, pen cap, or other small container and hidden. Get the low-down on K9 Nose Work.
You can do K9 Nose Work just about anywhere. This morning, I took the dogs to the local park where I placed three hides: in the trunk of a tree, on the base of a picnic table, and on the leg of a piece of playground equipment. One by one, the dogs took their turns searching for the scent of birch. They were rewarded with cheddar cheese (melty and gooey even at 9a because of the heat – it was pretty gross from my perspective). Each dog got two sets of three hides this morning, which set me up for a good long stretch of uninterrupted work-at-my-computer time because I’d tired the dogs out.
Later today, when their boredom peaks, I’ll stay in the comfort of our air-conditioned home and place some interior hides for the dogs. They love the game of K9 Nose Work — they get to be little doggie detectives, looking for scent clues to lead them to the source.
I love it because it’s a way I can tire my dogs out without worrying about heat stroke. Or taking a shower in the middle of the day because I’m dripping wet. I can stay cool, exercise the dogs, and improve their scenting skills. There’s no downside to that scenario!
If you’re interested in a fun and easy way to stay cool AND get your dog some much-needed exercise, check out K9 Nose Work! We have new classes starting in September…just in time for “back to school” season!
I wish we were close enough to take your September class. We’ve done an intro class the didn’t progress beyond searching for treats. But even that has been a lot of fun. Honey can find a treat hidden anywhere in the house. She’s got a pretty good nose on her.
Stetson loves doing K9 Nosework and everyone loves watching him because he’s so enthusiastic. The only problem is he stirs up the air a lot because he moves so fast. Stetson has gotten pretty good at alerting to birch, but we haven’t moved on to any of the other odors yet.
I enjoyed reading this post. I hide my dog’s kong toy when I leave and he has fun finding them. Although, lately even though he finds them he doesn’t pull it out to play with until I get home. Is there a reason why you use birch or can other scents be used for K9 Nosework?
Laurie Luck says
You and Honey would love it! You should keep going with the classes. We start our beginners on finding food to help them develop a great search behavior. Then in our second level, we start the dogs on odor (birch).
Laurie Luck says
We’re sticking with birch until we get a NW1 title. Then we’ll worry about anise. 🙂
Laurie Luck says
Vicki, birch is the first scent that a K9 Nose Work dog is exposed to. There are three scents total: (1) birch, (2) anise, and (3) clove.
I love scenting with my dogs, they are spaniels and the moment instinct takes over it is a beautiful sight to see.