Is your dog right-nosed or left-nosed? It’s kind of a cool question because the answer can indicate whether your dog will be more effective traveling to the right or the left. The question is absolutely legitimate. We know that humans are right or left handed and that this corresponds to one side of the brain or the other. Is your dog right brained or left brained?

In this video, you can see that Brava clearly demonstrates that she does NOT want to travel counter clockwise in order to work the container setup that I set up for her.

Brava has a clear preference to travel clockwise even when the odor is more easily found counter-clockwise.

What this tells me is that she might have a direction preference.

There is some interesting research that backs up this theory. Here’s a fantastic blog on Scientific American that explains the study:

Essentially, in the study, the researchers found that recognized odors were more likely to be investigated by dogs with the LEFT NOSTRIL.

Here’s the thing… I’ve noticed with MOST DOGS, that they are more effective when the productive search area is on their left side. Does this mean that they can’t search effectively the other way? Nope. But it DOES give me some really interesting insight into how to best set my dog up in a search area.

Here’s another interesting video that supports this theory. This was a search setup that I did to encourage Brava to keep searching for converging odor if she finds one hide (it’s a patterning exercise I do). Interestingly, when she is searching with the the productive area on her right (and therefore right nostril), she consistently hit the second hide of the pair. When I rotated to bring her backwards, putting the area to her left side, she consistently picked up the remaining hide.

Then Brava does something interesting. She chooses to put the search on her left (and therefore left nostril) and finds the next pair of hides without missing the first hide. In fact she sourced it beautifully!

Brava searches for hides in pairs. When she works with the productive area on her right, she hits the second hide of the pair first. When she switches and puts the productive area on her left, she does not miss a hide.

Although not definitive, these two videos clearly represent a preference that she has in terms of searching. And… it’s potentially backed up by science!

Understanding our dog’s search styles is one of the most critical things that we can do as handler and a trainer. It means that we can adapt our handling, evaluate our observations, and set better searches. To me, this information is invaluable.

Interestingly, I’ve also found that directionality can help dogs who naturally search like pinballs. It’s really the first step to getting them working a bit more carefully and methodically.

I have a workshop coming up on April 19 with Fenzi Dog Sports Academy that will get into this aspect and then apply it and patterning techniques to get the most out of your Container searches! For more information or to register: