It’s been a really busy, but thoroughly enjoyable couple of months for me. Callie and I have clocked up many miles and a couple of hotel stays in order to complete two UK Sniffer Dogs Trainer’s Courses-Bronze and Silver standard-, and a Trainer’s tracking course with the one and only Steve Mann!
I cannot emphasise enough just how brilliant these three courses were. I have never really been that interested in scent work… until now that is!
Jamie Pound and Steve Mann are both passionate about what they do and teach, and it’s safe to say I am a complete convert. I wish I could articulate the feeling of joy and pride I got from watching Callie work. Her enthusiasm for the job was contagious and it has certainly awoken something in her. Don’t get me wrong, she is always up for training with me- and is extremely capable at obedience, agility, tricks and gundog work- but the scent work certainly lit a fire in her.
The benefits as I see them are:
Strengthening the Bond
Tracking and scent work offer a unique opportunity for you and your dog to build a strong and trusting relationship. Engaging in these activities requires effective communication and teamwork, leading to enhanced understanding and cooperation between you and your dog. As your dog learns to rely on your guidance and you learn to interpret their signals, a deeper connection is forged.
Dogs thrive on mental stimulation. Tracking and scent work provide an outlet for their natural problem-solving abilities. These activities challenge our dogs to use their senses, particularly their remarkable sense of smell, to locate and identify scents or tracks. The mental exercise involved in deciphering complex scent puzzles helps to keep their minds sharp and focused.
Boost Confidence and Self-esteem:
Accomplishing successful tracks or scent searches boosts a dog's confidence and self-esteem. As they learn to trust their abilities and rely on their training, dogs gain a sense of achievement and pride. This increased confidence often translates into improved behaviour and a more balanced temperament. For handlers, witnessing their dog's growth and development is immensely rewarding, strengthening their bond even further.
Beyond mental stimulation, tracking and scent work offer a physically engaging experience for dogs. The process involves navigating various terrains, which can range from forests and fields to urban environments. Regular physical exercise is crucial for maintaining a dog's overall health and can also contribute to better behaviour and reduced anxiety.
Tap into Natural Instincts:
Tracking and scent work harness a dog's innate abilities, allowing them to tap into their primal instincts. Dogs possess an extraordinary sense of smell, far superior to that of humans. Through training and practice, they can hone their natural scent-detection skills (which are utilized in a variety of practical scenarios by various people: Tracking abilities in search and rescue operations, scent work in detecting illegal substances, missing persons, etc. They are also used to ‘sniff out’ cancers- bladder cancer detection being particularly effective).
Channel Energy and Reduce Behavioral Issues:
Many dogs exhibit behavioural problems when they are under-stimulated or bored. Engaging in tracking and scent work provides an excellent outlet for their energy, reducing the likelihood of destructive behaviours. By focusing their attention on the task at hand, dogs learn to redirect their energy in a constructive manner. This can be particularly beneficial for high-energy breeds that require a job or purpose to prevent restlessness or anxiety.
Doing some scent training on a busy day takes a lot less time than taking your dog out somewhere for a walk, and the points I made above mean a happier, and more happily tired, dog. What is there not to Luv!
Tracking and scent work offer a myriad of benefits for both you and your dog. These activities promote bonding, mental stimulation, physical exercise, and tap into a dog's natural instincts. By engaging in these activities, you and your dog will embark on a fulfilling journey that enriches your lives and strengthens your relationship.
If this sounds interesting, or sounds like a good thing to do with your pooch, why not book onto one of my scent courses, and let your adventure begin!
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