Practice on Windy Days

Photo by Bianca Suri

In the game of Nosework, understanding the wind is important. Knowing not only what direction the wind is blowing, but thinking about how strong it’s blowing is important to understanding how scent cones form.

What’s a scent cone? Well, it’s an area extending from the source hide that contains odor. The scent cone can be short and small (cold, wet days and days without wind create these small cones) or it can be long and narrow (very windy days) or wide, average breezes create these.

So, getting outside somewhere and practicing Nose Work in the wind or different types of windy conditions will not only help your dog learn how to work odor in these conditions, but will help you, as a Nosework handler.

Some dogs, like my chocolate lab Atlas, often work in circles or in zig zag patterns. This is instinctual for many dogs. They not only kick up odor by moving quickly back and forth, but they can also bracket odor (find the edges of odor) by moving back and forth through it. They have very powerful noses.

My best advice for a few of your windy hides is to make the hide simple (say in the middle of a parking lot either in a crack, in a box with a rock in it, or even just a tin in the middle of a large space. I also recommend for this exercise to put a lot of odor, three or even five Q-Tips.

Approach the source from several different directions and pay attention to how your dog works the odor. When do you see a change of behavior (COB)? How do they hone in on source once they’ve caught it in the wind? These are all important training moments.

Remember, keep it fun!

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