Friday, October 7, 2016

Jake’s NW journey 0-10 months (and a Narcotics K9)!

With the prospect of being sidelined by 2 knee replacements last winter and having an overachiever dog around I decided to venture into the sport of Nosework.  I bought some videos but needed more to get started on my own.  It was recommended to me that I take some of the Fenzi online classes in nosework and I was hooked.  These courses are 6 weeks long with usually 4-6 lectures each week with homework and they followed a logical progression to learn the sport.  They are offered every 2 months and since the beginning of the year we took the first 3 beginning courses and combined those with 4 advanced courses.  With an average of 100 hides/week, Jake progressed quickly.  In the spring, we joined weekly classes at Ideal Dog Trainer in Neenah and Pawsitively Unleashed! in Stevens Point and attended a 3 day Andrew Ramsey workshop in May in Stevens Point.   During the summer we did some training with Haus von Stolz Police K9 Training in Lomira and introduced him to narcotic detection.  In September, Jake competed in local UKC Nosework trials and successfully completed various elements in the novice, advanced and superior levels with a total of 10 titles (elements plus level titles).  In October, he was certified as a Narcotics K9 and participated in a 2 day search in a correctional institution where he proved just how much stamina he has (3 hours first day and 2 hours the second) and how accurate he is outside on grounds and inside in lockers, training rooms and inmates rooms!  I can't tell you how proud I am of this dog!  He has so much drive and ambition to do anything I ask of him!  What a guy!


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Our 1st Nosework trial!

Finally, Jake ("Famous Jake" as I heard someone call him!) and I entered our first trial. We started Nosework at the beginning of the year and this UKC trial in Stevens Point Wisconsin was the first trial in any venue that was within a 90 min. radius of home. Saturday, Jake passed the first 3 PTs (Pre-Trial tests in birch, anise and clove) and zoomed on to the Elements offered (Containers, Interior and Vehicles - no Exterior) He successfully sourced the odor in all 3 Elements in both Trials that day earning him 3 titles: NC (Novice Containers), NI (Novice Interior) and NV (Novice Vehicle) with 2 First Place ribbons and 4 Third Place ribbons. Sunday we successfully repeated the PTs (because we could, not because we had to) and then proceeded to garner enough legs for 2 more titles, AI (Advanced Interior), AV (Advanced Vehicles), and a leg towards Advanced Containers with a 1st place, three 3rd places and a 4th place finish. All in all a GREAT weekend! Awesome, competent, helpful judges (Sharon Jonas & Joanne Soyke), beautiful weather, friendly competitors and and efficiently run trial will bring me back next year! A special thank you to Renea L Dahms at Pawsitively Unleashed and all the hardworking members of the Central WI Dog Sports Club!


Saturday, July 2, 2016


A tracking seminar!  AKC no less!  After YEARS of Schutzhund footprint to footprint tracking I went to a workshop to earn the method that is used in AKC tracking!  Looks promising and I plan to see what happens!!  Lois Ballard is an AKC judge and regularly holds classes at Hartman Creek State Park.

2016.6 Seminar Lois Ballard 12016.6 Seminar Lois Ballard 22016.6 Seminar Lois Ballard 32016.6 Seminar Lois Ballard 42016.6 Seminar Lois Ballard 5

Monday, May 23, 2016

Andrew Ramsey Nosework seminar!

This weekend I attended a Nosework seminar with Andrew Ramsey and it was awesome! There were several dogs just starting Nosework, several dogs on odor, several SAR (cadaver) dogs and then there was Jake who didn’t fit into any of those groups. (He was, by the way, the only dog who ended up working outside on 2 of the 3 days as most of the dogs worked in the “training lab” set up in the seminar room at Pawsitively Unleashed in Stevens Point.)

My goal was to have Jake ignore more distractions so I will describe some of our training.NW Ramsey seminar 1

Jake will ignore his toys on the floor when they are “dead”. Specifically, he will search instead of picking his favorite balls up, etc. however, I knew for a fact that he gets VERY excited when that ball on a rope is moving so this is what we worked on the first day. Andrew would have his favorite ball on a rope and play tug with him after he searched and after I marked his alert. After the first time of doing that, Jake went into his over-the-top I-must-be-doing-bitework mentality and I had to clearly redirect him to search, but search he did and really fast so he could get that reward!! This did not look very pretty for the first few times because Jake wanted to go directly to Andrew. In the afternoon session, he really “got” it and Andrew was able to tease him with the ball while he was alerting to source. If he started to turn his head to look at him, I would say “alert” and he would recommit to the odor and not leave until I said “yes”!

Sunday, the second day, we worked outside knowing that Jake is usually distracted by the smells of otNW Ramsey seminar 3her dogs and critters. The first hide was on the wheel of a tractor trailer truck and Jake aced it. The second hide was along the wall of a deserted building. He sourced it and then a mouse ran by the hide into a hole in the wall of the building and that’s all it took for him to be distracted!! We got his attention and he alerted on the hide which was about 6 feet up on the wall. Several other hides went well I think in part because he knew that there was a possibility that he would get to play with that ball on a rope! In the afternoon, there were 3 hides along the front of the building and Jake found the threshold one but blew by the second because a bush was there and the odor from the 3rd was pulling him forward. He found that and came back to the second. The last for the afternoon were 2 hides on the truck and these were on a wheel and in between the brackets near a wheel which he had no problem finding!

Monday we went outside again and searched hides in a potty area and then along the front and the back of a long building. He ignored the smells for the most part. It appears that perhaps part of that problem is on the way to the start line rather than after I tell him to search because once he gets going he is less distracted. I’ll have to observe that. The building was pretty much like other searches he’s done – sourcing them all. Of course, we did have to discourage him from trying to take apart the water meter where one hide was and teach him to alert without dismounting it! The hiNW Ramsey seminar 4des outside were either small metal containers or a tiny piece of blotter paper that could be slid into cracks in doorways in addition to being placed anywhere a Q-tip could be hidden.

My challenge is to know when to call finish when I don’t know how many hides there are!! But how different is that from the master level in barn hunt anyway!?! Jake has an amazing alert so it’s just a matter of getting him close to the source and he’ll find it. Some of the outside hides were not accessible and I didn’t know where they were or how many there were. Another challenge is to learn to read the wind currents and make sure Jake searched everything including the ins and outs of the search area. Great weekend!!

NW Ramsey seminar 6     NW Ramsey seminar 5

Monday, May 9, 2016


In between NOSEWORK days we did some BARN HUNT in Sheboygan and even though Jake hadn’t chased a rat in a tube for 7 months, he didn’t miss a beat!  He attained his RATCHX4 this weekend meaning that he has accumulated a total of 45 master legs!  In addition, he brought home a blue ribbon, 2 yellow ribbons and a high in class ribbon!! 

2016.5.8 RATCHX4 Jake

Here are 3 videos from his runs!



Monday, May 2, 2016

Rick’s Repair & farm equipment!


NW Rick's Repair

And here is the video and explanation that goes with it.

I often video but rarely post them because I’m taking them and they are pretty shaky and awful.  Today I really tried to get some good footage of Jake who tends to be a pretty active dog.  I’m sold on using a flexi for nosework (nothing else) because it doesn’t get tangled and I let Jake work farther away from me. It’s clearly a learning curve and I’m beginning to handle it better.  I am a clicker/marker trainer and believe that when I say YES that it ends the exercise and Jake returns to me for the reward.  When I say GOOD, he knows he has to stay in position until I say YES.  I’ve recently started pairing ALERT with GOOD and there is one find on the video where I say ALERT and he pushes back into the find until I say YES.  I feel that I talk too much and am working on that!    In order to not overface him, all the hides are accessible.  It’s pretty windy (NE17) and at the auto repair shop (5 hides aged 3 hours) that has farm equipment you can see him under the equipment on one side and then finding odor on the other.  The last 5 hides (aged 2 hours) at the vet office had the distractions of dog potty smells but I kept the hides off the grass at this time to help him be successful since he has only been doing nosework for 4 months. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Back on the DOCK

Jake got his second leg towards a title in Speed Retrieve today and 3rd place (10.945 sec. in the Express division) with Dock Dogs in Oshkosh in 75 degrees and sunny weather!!! This guy SO wants to do everything he can. Since we're doing Nosework when we got out of the van he was heading towards all the vehicles and sniffing until we rounded the corner of the building and he saw the pool! Then he went crazy!!  Click below to check out his video!

2016.4.16 Dock Dogs Subaru Oshkosh Jake (1)a

2016.4.16 Dock Dogs Subaru Oshkosh Jake (10)     2016.4.16 Dock Dogs Subaru Oshkosh Jake (11)2016.4.16 Dock Dogs Subaru Oshkosh Jake (12)     2016.4.16 Dock Dogs Subaru Oshkosh Jake (14)2016.4.16 Dock Dogs Subaru Oshkosh Jake (15)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Jake’s 1st LIVE Nosework Class!

Knowing that Jake has the basics of Nosework from the Fenzi online courses prompted us to enter a course with other dogs which I knew would be a distraction.  Enter Lynsie Bernier with Ideal DOG.  We were put in the NW2 class with 5 other super friendly handlers and their dogs.  I knew Jake’s issue would be the distractions of other dogs and yes, I was correct.  But that’s why we’re taking the course.  He initially started tracking/sniffing the 5 dogs who went before him and needed a bit of prompting to understand his job.  I have no doubt this will be worked out in short order as he just needs to understand his job!

This video is reduced from 6 to 2 minutes to show his great obedience to the odor when he indicates it. This is something we practice daily and he really understands what he is supposed to do!  

Click here to watch video

When we got home I placed 10 hides in my bedroom and bathroom and let them age 4 hours. Some were accessible and others not, but with each of them he maintained odor obedience even though he couldn’t actually see the tins, straws and chapstick type tubes with the scented Q-tips in until I took a photo and released him!

2016.4.9 Jake searching (1)2016.4.9 Jake searching (2)2016.4.9 Jake searching (3)2016.4.9 Jake searching (4)2016.4.9 Jake searching (5)2016.4.9 Jake searching (6)2016.4.9 Jake searching (7)2016.4.9 Jake searching (8)2016.4.9 Jake searching (9)2016.4.9 Jake searching (10)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Great stuff this Nosework thing…

Well, we’re really coming along quite well with this nosework thing.  It certainly gives Jake something to look forward to each day and keeps me energized because EVERYTHING I do with Jake is energizing!   I log the 3-4 training sessions/day with 5-9 hides/session.  This works out to be about 100 hides/week!  It’s amazing how quickly this can be done if you do it daily but, for sure, if I wasn’t writing it down, it wouldn’t get done!  We’re now on all FIVE odors (Birch, Anise, Clove, Myrrh and Vetiver) that are part of UKC Nosework trials!  He was able to switch to the other odors with barely an introduction to them. 

Since I can do steps now I put the training room in the basement back together.  Brita in the first photo is clearly waiting for something to happen whereas Jake in the second on is trying to make it happen with his squeaky Kong!  His toys are strewn about the boxes where there could be odor and he completely ignores them.  Kibble on the floor…  well that’s another thing! 

Training Room 1Training Room 2Training Room 3

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Vehicle heaven…

…… right next to a park with play equipment, a fire station, picnic tables and several metal buildings.  It’s Trail Head Park in Larsen!




Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Another session, 2 more Fenzi online courses!

Yep…  every 2 months are new courses!  The courses are 6 weeks each so that allows a few weeks before the next session to recover from review the courses that are just ending. This session I’m taking 2 more courses – one that is the logical sequence from the beginning ones I took and the other is more specialized. 


This is the third skills level course in our Nosework program and will build on the skills acquired in the previous two skills classes.  We will search for odor only and work to develop the teamwork necessary for successful trialing - and that involves trusting your dog to lead you to source. We will cover training skills such as:

  • thresholds and corners
  • environmental considerations around airflow and weather conditions
  • aged hides
  • non-box containers
  • how to set up and work through distractions
  • how to evaluate search are challenges/approach
  • how to effectively search an area
  • multiple hides
  • inaccessibles
  • advanced vehicle searches
  • building search stamina
  • combo odors
  • what to expect when trialing
  • assessing trial readiness
  • problem solving individual team skills

Week 1:

  • Self-Assessment
  • Thresholds
  • Corners
  • Airflow/Scent Theory
  • Analyze airflow/search environment conditions and predict how the search will go
  • SUPPLEMENTAL LECTURE: Adding new odors
  • SUPPLEMENTAL LECTURE: Use of other Qtip holders

Week 2:

  • Increasing age of hides across all element
  • Adding appropriate direction for covering an area
  • Evaluating search area challenges/approach
  • Effectively covering small and large search areas
  • SUPPLEMENTAL LECTURE: Hide Placements (Accessible vs. Inaccessible)

Week 3:

  • Introduction to non-box containers
  • Unintentional Distractions
  • Introduction to multiple hides

Week 4:

  • Adding more vehicles/novel vehicles
  • Adding blind hides in your training
  • Intentional Distractors
  • Introduction to Inaccessible hides

Week 5:

  • Hides in every day items
  • Odor is Odor - not relying on visual cues
  • High and Low hides - considerations for small and large dogs
  • Extending multiple hide searches to all elements

Week 6:

  • Combo Odors
  • Extending inaccessible hides to all elements
  • What to expect with trialing / Assessing Trial Readiness
  • Building Search Stamina (Part 2)
  • SUPPLEMENTAL LECTURE: Building Search Stamina (Part 1)
  • Revisit Self-Assessment


This course will take your Vehicle and Exterior Skills to the Next Level.  Teams working from NW1 through NW3 will find this course extremely valuable. 

Vehicles are one of the least practiced elements yet are also one of the least understood.  Stacy decodes the ins and outs of her favorite element and shares all of her hidden secrets that have resulted in multiple NW3 Vehicle wins and 100% pass rate.  Learn her "secret sauce".

Exteriors are more often practiced but are often difficult due to scenting conditions and search area complexity.  Stacy guides you through one of her other favorite elements (and often won at NW3) in order to get you comfortable in understanding and navigating your search area.

Week 1: Vehicles and Exterior Basics

  • Vehicles and Exteriors as Elements
  • Basic Handling
  • Sticking to Vehicles
  • UKC Novice Vehicles - Training Bumpers
  • One Hide Multiple Vehicles

Week 2: Vehicle and Exterior Scent Theory

  • Vehicles: Flow and Aerodynamics
  • Weather impact
  • Wind, Elevation and Structure
  • Windfalls, Working next to Buildings

Week 3: Vehicle Handling and Lots More

  • Vehicles are like a sundial
  • The Dance
  • Keeping your bearings
  • Handle This and I Handled That
  • When to Call Finish
  • Inaccessible hides
  • Addressing pawing at source and other troubles

Week 4: Vehicle Challenges and Competitive Considerations

  • Multiple hides on a single vehicle
  • Getting Creative
  • High Up Vehicles
  • Anything with Wheels Goes
  • Shaving off Seconds

Week 5: Exterior Handling and Lots More

  • Evaluating a Search Area in 3D
  • Working a space effectively
  • Boundaries! Or Not.
  • Handle This and I Handled That
  • When to Call Finish

Week 6: Exterior Challenges and Generalization

  • Ground Hides
  • Hides on Multiple Levels
  • Hides Near Drains
  • Training for Distractions
  • Generalization of Course!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Off we went to Point

As the weather warmed up I took Jake on the road a bit and realized just how much we needed more of that.  Focus was not his strong point if there were any distractions at all SO we decided to drive to Pawsitively Unleashed in Stevens Point for some practice session.  Again, as expected, he was distracted by other dogs and people but each of the four times I brought him in he was a bit better!  It’s just going to take repetition and knowing his job! 


Monday, February 1, 2016

February NOSEWORK courses!!

So even though I had my second knee replaced January 18th I signed up for 2 more online courses through the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy.  We got a bit of a late start but on a roll now!  The first one I took was so well written and presented in such a logical sequence that I was easily able to follow it so I had no problem deciding to continue with more courses!  Here are the details of those courses!  I would recommend them to anyone!


This is the second course in our Nosework series, and continues on where NW101 left off. If you have not completely caught up with everything in NW101, that is okay. We will just progress from where you currently are. In general, we begin with the assumption that your dog has or is close to having the skill required for an ORT. We will work through each of the four elements required for the NW1 title - interior, exterior, container, and vehicle search - while looking at the unique challenges each poses. We'll also discuss handling techniques that you can implement to help support your dog in his search. 

Week 1: Foundation / Self-Assessment / Baseline

• Review of foundation games
• Review Intro to Interiors
• Self-Assessment and Baseline video
• Weekly Container exercise: Introducing food and toy distractions
• Acclimating your dog to crating for trial prep
• Introducing your dog to different Qtip holders

Week 2: Interiors

• Weekly Container exercise and progress report
• Introduction to Airflow and how it impacts hide placement and search results
• Hide Placement: What makes a hide Accessible and Inaccessible
• Line of Objects
• Cluttered Room
• Interior Search in a New Area, not cluttered

Week 3: Intro to Exteriors

• Weekly Container exercise and progress report
• Importance of the value of the reinforcer
• Exterior considerations
• Small area exterior in known environment

Week 4: Exteriors Continued

• Weekly Container exercise and progress report
• Expanding the search area in a known environment
• Assessing the difficulty of novel locations
• Exterior Search, small area in a novel, easy environment
• Exterior Search, larger area in a novel, easy environment

Week 5: Intro to Vehicles

• Weekly Container exercise and progress report
• Vehicle Search, Introduction in known environment
• Vehicle Search, using smaller hides and common placements
• Vehicle Search, easy novel environment, known vehicle
• Vehicle Search, easy environment, novel vehicle
• Vehicle Search, known environment with adding cold car

Week 6: Putting it all together

• Aging Hides
• Weekly Container exercise and progress report
• Developing independent start lines
• Building stamina with sequential element searches
• Introducing additional odors
• Revisit Self-Assessment


Do you want to make your team the best you can be?  The key to success in Nosework is in Generalization and Proofing.  This course isn’t a skills based course although skills will be enhanced and honed.  It’s a course entirely devoted to trial preparation. Use a systematic process to identify your particular challenges and then design a customized preparation plan for your dog to build confidence, motivation and ease in novel environments particular to the level that you currently preparing for.  All of our Nosework courses are targeted at getting you trial ready at whatever level you are at, but this course takes trial readiness to the next level.  This course is appropriate for all levels of Nosework students and will give you the confidence you need to step to the startline.

This class is suitable regardless of your Nosework background or how you introduced odor to your dog.  This class is designed to be repeated and to provide the online student with structure necessary to continue to build skills for successful trialing. (Bronze and Silvers will also be building customized plans!)

This is an excellent class for sensitive or environmental dogs as there is a heavy emphasis on the mental state of the dog.

You can expect in this class to see lots and lots of videos of different dogs working.  One of the best learning methods is watching different dogs work.  You'll find that your eye improves and your own ability to read your dog skyrockets!  This class will not only showcase dogs working in the Gold threads but will also showcase a ton of dogs at different levels working throughout the lectures.

You can expect your dog to get much closer to being trial ready, and you can expect your own handling to improve by leaps and bounds!  Hope to see you in class! 

Week 1:

  • How to know when your dog is trial ready
  • Introduction to Generalization and Proofing
  • Performance baseline
  • Handling Analysis - what to look for and how to self assess
  • Assessing the handler’s trial readiness
  • Mental plan for trialing
  • Develop trial preparation plan for your dog (and you!)
  • Generalizing the sensitive dog

Week 2:

  • Review of basic Scent Theory
  • Review of hide placement skills
  • What to expect at a trial
  • Approach to generalization
  • Selecting training areas and training conditions
  • Execute on trial preparation plan

Week 3:

  • Generalizing Interiors and Containers
  • Addressing scary interiors…  it’s all about confidence!
  • Taking Containers on the road
  • Execute on trial preparation plan

Week 4:

  • Generalizing Exteriors and Vehicles
  • Thoughts on proofing and maintaining a healthy balance
  • Addressing crittering and odor…  chicken or the egg
  • Execute on trial preparation plan

Week 5:

  • Degrees of proofing
  • Proofing skills and games
  • Maintaining and building drive
  • Startline routines are everything!
  • Execute on trial preparation plan

Week 6:

  • Combining generalization and proofing
  • Go Big or Go Home…  taking generalization to the next level when appropriate
  • Developing stamina in searching
  • Self assessment of trial readiness




Sunday, January 10, 2016

Nosework – 4 weeks!

Hard to believe it was the beginning of December when I decided to dive into NOSEWORK to give Jake a job and keep me semi entertained while recovering from a knee replacement…  and to get us through the COLD Wisconsin winter!!  I ordered boxes, set up a training area and finally got scent December 5th and here we are a month and a few days later posting a video of quite a few hides and jake’s searches.  I don’t videotape every day because I spend way too much time editing them and hence, less time training!  Anyhoo…  here it is About 15+ minutes cut down to 5!

Click here to watch video!

  • The beginning is a hide in white boxes in my bedroom.  I leave most training items out so these boxes were simply strewn about the room.  He identified the hot one where there were several Q-tips in a tin. 
  • At 39 seconds he starts the second search of the same boxes in the bedroom and identifies the source at 53 seconds.  When I say YES he jerks his head and looks at me and I lean over and treat him at the source of the odor.  Then I have him put his nose back again to extend the time at the odor.  If he looks back at me I say “uh uh” (or play the red light/green light game) and he puts his nose on source again.  When finished I say YES and ALL DONE.
  • At 1:18 he starts the 3rd search and he has to search the whole house.  It’s in a basket on the table and I thought he’d go on the couch to get it but he didn’t.  Nevertheless he found it at 2:43.  I hid it again at the same place and he did go on the couch then to get it and was very obedient to the odor.
  • The next search starts at 3:18 and as he passes it at 3:24 he does a head jerk and finds it.
  • In the next search at 3:32 he starts in and clears the living room but then finds it in the kitchen at 4:09 between the refrigerator and cabinet.
  • Right away at 4:10 is another search where he went by it and then did a head jerk and found it in the closet.
  • At 4:19 he starts a search in the training area and immediately goes to my boots where the odor is hidden.
  • At 4:29 he heads into the living room and clears that quickly before heading back and finding the odor (in a magnetic spice tin) on the pellet stove.  We then work on obedience to odor.


  • I start every session by putting a wide collar on him and a 10 foot leash without a handle and tell him to go to his place (mat) in the training room. This is where he returns between searches which happen throughout the house.  His rewards (kibble – anything better is too stimulating for him) are on a table right in the room which he leaves alone. 
  • After I’ve hidden the the odor I go back to him by walking through the rooms where I did not hide the odor so he doesn’t track my steps and I always take a different route.
  • Sometimes I hold the leash when he’s searching but when I was doing the videotape I didn’t have enough hands.  Other videotapes I’ve done I set up a tripod but the way he is all over the house that is no longer practical.
  • He was a little spooked with me talking for the video which I normally don’t do AND I normally have treats in my hand that now held my phone so things were a little off for him.  Because of this I noticed that he didn’t focus quite like normal…  however…  we need to work on focus and distractions!!

2015.12.13 Jake at window

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Now I’m getting carried away…

Hide odor…  camera in one hand, treats in the other!  Jake searches and holds head to odor until I click the camera and say yes!