April 24, 2014

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The Superior Canine Nose – Sense of Smell

Walter’s second time in the field was this past Sunday. He received a fourth place ribbon in the Open All Age Dogs class during the Greater Portland Dachshund Club Field Trials in Castlerock, Washington. His first field trial experience was this past January during the DCA National Field Trials in Vacaville, California. However, I’m not writing to brag about Walter although I’m a proud dog mom so I would… this is a sport that focuses on scent work and a dog’s sense of smell is remarkable. The goal of the field trial is to judge a dog on their ability to track a rabbit and it’s a lot of fun to watch. The American Kennel Club talk about the rules on their site if you’re interested. Beagle field trials are really popular.

FACT: According to “The Detection Dog Understanding Olfaction and Odors” handbook written by Fred Helfers, Master Trainer Detection Canines — humans have approximately 5 million olfactory sensory cells within their olfactory system. A large breed canine may have over 200 million sensory cells within their olfactory system!

Fred Helfers gives seminars that focus on scent work.Below are some really interesting facts about the canine nose.

Another fascinating factoid: following are the major functions of a dog’s nose –

  1. as an airway
  2. as an air conditioner
  3. as a filter
  4. as the origin for such reflex as sneezing
  5. as a resonator or sound chamber in barking or whining
  6. as a direction finder
  7. as the organ for the sense of smell

During field trials – we’re always talking about the ideal environment for chasing bunnies. Environment plays such an important role in scent work. Temperature, air movement, and humidity are all crucial. We learned from Fred that the optimal conditions for nosework are moderate temperature and high humidity.

Odor sources located in a warm environment, allow the release of odor molecules more readily than those odor sources located in a cool environment. Just having some of these facts at my fingertips set us up for success when we’re out in the field! I’ll talk more about scent work in my next post about Canine Nosework.

Vacaville third place

Vacaville, CA third place

Field Trial 025


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