What draws people to Nosework?

The sport is growing by leaps and bounds…  organizations are forming worldwide and here in the US, more options are becoming available for competitors.

Judd doing nosework outside

So the question is, why is this sport growing?  Seriously, people become obsessed with this sport, me included.  Out of all of the sports out there (and I’ve tried a ton of them), why do scent sports, Nosework in particular, pull at me so hard?

For each of us, the answer is personal.  Perhaps there are those with a fragile dog who has gained confidence in the sport.  There are also those folks whose first foray into dog sports is Nosework because someone told them that their dog “Needed a Job”.  There are also folks who have reactive dogs and this is one of the few only truly reactive dog friendly sports out there.

For me, I started my love affair with this sport because my dogs enjoy it.  Honestly though, that’s not enough to fuel an obsession…  and for me, and many others, this truly IS an obsession.  So why did I pick this sport when there are now more options than ever to play with my dogs?


Seriously….  It is.  I love watching my dogs do something that is fed by inner drive.  To see them solving puzzles and using capabilities that I can only describe with words like “Theory” because my rudimentary olfactory sense pales in comparison to the powerful and curious sense that my dogs posses.  They are thrilled with the hunt of odor and seeing that joy is truly beautiful to behold.


There are so many things that we do know about when it comes to our Best Friends.  We understand running, jumping, response to commands, basic biomechanics…  But when we try to understand our sport, we use words like “Scent Theory”.  Sure, we know about a dog’s nose…  about turbinates and olfactory receptors.  We also have study in fluid flow dynamics that provides a model of scent…  but do we REALLY understand it?


Yup.  That’s an attractor.  I admit it.  I’m a geek.  I love tossing around terms like Vapor Pressure and Laminar and Turbulent Flow.  I love picturing the search like it’s something from another dimension…  channeling and pooling…  the average human doesn’t get to see the world the way we do!


This is not a sport of haves and have nots.  This is a sport full of supportive, wonderful people who want to see everyone come back from a search with a “Thumbs Up”.  This is a sport where people will actually travel just to volunteer!  Where most everyone sticks around for the Awards Ceremony after a long day even though only a handful of people may have passed with a title.


Because this sport is so mysterious…  and because the human isn’t the star of the show, we are but minor players…  we have to trust our dogs.  Handing over that trust has a really cool side effect in building relationships.  Our dogs aren’t doing what they are being told so much as they are working and problem solving with our support, not our direction.  In this sport we hand over the reins and trust that our dogs’ skills will do what we cannot do on our own.


Those of us who have fragile or reactive dogs have witnessed transformations in our best friends as confidence is gained and focus in new environments is achieved.  These dogs blossom and in turn it makes our hearts swell.


Yup.  That statement says it all.

So am I obsessed?  You betcha.  Me and a whole hoard of other folks, both new and veterans in this sport…. obsessed with one of the fastest growing dog sports out there…  because who doesn’t want their own scent detection dog?

Happy Sniffing!!!

Stacy Barnett with Judd

Photo Credits: Lonni Berger, Bad Wolf Photography