K9 Nose Work – Odor Recognition Test (ORT)

So for a year and a half now Riley and I have been doing K9 nose work training the class has started to talk about doing trials so we all signed up for the first test, the ORT.  To participate in k9 nose work trials you must pass 3 odor recognition test.  The reason for the test is to verify that the dogs know the odors (birch, anise, & clove) used in K9 nose work competition. The test consists of 12 boxes on the floor with one containing the odor, the test is blind, the human does not know which box contains the odor, so you work with your dog to find it together.

On May 9th we participated in odor recognition tests at a facility in Escalon Ca.   I wasn’t sure he was ready because he doesn’t have a strong tell, meaning he doesn’t tell me when he finds the odor, sometimes he just moves on, ugh.  We have been working on his tell, but it seems that we need more work :).  I thought about postponing his trial but I’m glad I didn’t…

The first test was funny, Riley was so distracted by the testing area, he pranced around ignoring the boxes, “lets to here mom”, “no wait lets go over there”…  To my surprise he passed birch, pretty much one only box his lingered he lingered on twice so I called “alert”.

The second & third tests he was more focused but I read him wrong, in both cases I alerted to the box next to the box with odor, bummer.  We have work to do!

The nice thing about the ORT is that even if your dog doesn’t get it right he still gets cookies at the correct box, win win for the pup!

K9 nose work tired pup

The great thing about the day is Riley and I had fun and he was completely conked out at the end of the day.

Tired Pubby


The good thing is we passed birch so we can start NW1 trails if we want!

I need to remember I still have a job to do: K9 Nose work for me and the boy

So what is K9 Nose Work?  K9 nose work was inspired by detections dogs and it is something anyone with a dog can do.  You start with getting your dog to find his favorite toy or treat in one of several open boxes, as your dog improves you expand to rooms, exterior areas and cars.  As your dog improves you move to target odors and you can learn competition skills.

This is a really good sport for reactive dogs because the dogs are worked one at a time.  This is something I wanted to do with Abby because of her reactivity but unfortunately didn’t get the chance.  Riley has been back burner boy for the last three month so to spend some quality time with him I signed us up for a intro class at Tell a Tail Dog Training in Livermore.

We started our class last night and all of the dogs were successful from the start.  They set out a bunch of boxes, one having treats.  The first pass they started by dropping treats in the treat box by the dog letting them eat out of the box.  Once the dog got the idea about treats in the box they distracted the dog and placed the box for the dog to find.  When the dog found the treat box the handler would put more treats in the box to increase the joy.  Each dog did this on leash three times.   The second pass they didn’t have the dogs eat out of the box to start, they placed the box and the handler let the dog off leash to find the prize, once the dog found the box with treats, again the handler would drop more treats in the box for the dog to enjoy, every dog did great!

intro to k9 nose work


The really great thing is you can do this at home folks!  I gathered up several boxes and we practiced in our garage with Riley.

intro to k9 nose work




Once Riley found the treat box, more cookies!  He was a happy boy.