All dog’s thrive when using their incredible noses. Dogs can smell 100,000 times better than humans, these superpower noses can sniff out a teaspoon of sugar in two Olympic sized swimming pools, medical detection dogs can alert to the scent of low sugar levels in their owners sweat, dogs’ can detect certain cancers and even alert on the Covid19 virus being present. Dogs can help us locate people, dead or alive and can even locate a decaying body under water via the odour.
Sniffing is an innate and fundamental activity for every dog. Sniffing is more than simply enrichment it’s at the core of every dog’s being in how they navigate their surrounding environment. Through smell the dog gains vital details about who has passed by the area recently and this information is evaluated for any threats around or any possibilities of reproducing. They use their noses to locate food and water, it is their primary way to gather all the information they need to survive. The sniffing brain (Olfactory System is 30% of the brain matter) and a dog can use a lot of energy physically and mentally when utilizing the olfactory system.
Our companion dogs should be allowed to sniff whenever possible, dogs see the world through their noses and this activity is equally as crucial to the wellbeing of the canine species as regular exercise.
The dogs seeking system to locate food is very much underutilized in our companion dogs as we supply all their food and water. The majority of our dogs are also neutered so the seeking for a mate is not as prevalent to them as in days gone by. To help our dogs fulfil their genetical need to seek and locate supplying additional outlets offers many benefits for our dogs.
Over the past few years nose work has become more well known and accessible for companion dog owners and becoming a popular activity, which is excellent news for our dogs! Detection style scent work and mantrailing are both great sports for dogs and handlers to participate in and can open up a whole new world for both the four legged and two legged. Seeing the world through a dog’s nose is truly fascinating.
I often get asked about the two activities and what are the differences. Fundamentally the dog is using their complex olfactory system to detect the location of a scent which is the same in both activities and of course they know just how to do this, the human element makes up the team activity and this is where you can step into their world. We are there to help our dogs to understand the activity we are doing by training them to locate specific odours and alert us they have found.
Scent work is based on operational detection style nose work which is practiced by the police, military, custom search dogs, explosives and medical detection dogs. This is when the dog is trained to search and locate a specific scent. The scent is placed amongst articles, rooms and outdoor spaces. Scent work can be practiced at home, in your garden and within a group scenario at different locations and at competition level. It’s an intriguing activity in learning about how different scent particles move and involves keen handler observation skills which develop the handler and dog relationship.
Mantrailing is what is says on the tin. The dog is trained to track down and locate a person. The concept of Mantrailing was utilized in the 18th century when dogs were used to track down runaway slaves or escaped criminals, even prior to the in the 17th century the Swiss monks trained St Bernards to locate hidden tracks amongst the snow, leading onto finding lost people too. Search and rescue dogs have been widely used in locating people since. The dog tracks down the scent of a person through human odour particles that are still within the air or have dropped to the floor. The dog can also locate the person via having smelt an item that person has touched such as clothing or mobile phone.
*Within the Mantrailing experience the handler and dog team will usually be covering large environments so the dog can track the human scent utilising the weather and terrain elements. Whereas in detection style Scent Work the dog covers a specific search area indoors or outdoors, objects or a variety of vehicles in finer detail, locating small hidden specific scents.
- Invaluable outlet to fulfil a dog’s fundamental instinctual need to seek and locate
- Reward based activity increasing dopamine levels ‘the feel good hormone’
- Increases confidence to explore and engage with different environments
- Helps a dog to problem solve whilst working through the natural search challenges
- Builds on the ability for the dog to concentrate and focus
- Utilizes energy, mentally and physically
- Non-impact sport promoting natural movement
- Builds on the handler and dog relationship through teamwork
- Dogs of all ages, breeds, life history and physical abilities can participate
- Everyone is welcome to have a go at nose sports with their dog, companion pet owner and trainers. For the handler it is a social activity where you can meet new friends and likeminded dog lovers and enjoy spending time with your dog
If you would like to have a go with your dog at either Detection Style Scent Work or Mantrailing start your journey here and contact our experienced and qualified instructors. Warning – once you have caught the ‘sniffy’ bug you will not look back 🙂
Mandy Rigby – Detection Style Scent Work Instructor, click on link below
Alison Hamilton – Mantrailing Instructor, click on link below