Scent Work 4-1 Gear And Handling

When we start our foundation NW training we focus on letting the dog work independently. We don’t want to complicate things with us and/or the dog getting tangled in the line or accidentally restraining them on lead. Now it’s time to start thinking about using a specific harness and leash for NW.

When you go to your NACSW ORT (Odor Recognition test which will be covered later), you have to run it on leash. It takes a little practice with line handling so it’s good to start practicing soon.

You can start by just putting a harness on now for your regular training sessions (no leash) so your dog gets used to working in a harness. You don’t have to use a harness, but I think it’s great to have gear that says “we are doing NW”.  It’s a really good idea to have a specific harness that is used only for NW. This becomes another cue for your dog that you are about to do NW.

Harness and Lead

There are a variety of harnesses that people use for NW.  Here are a couple popular ones used in Nose Work:

They allow all sizes and types of leashes (even flexis!). I like using a 10′ lead. Plenty of line to maneuver around and not too much to get tangled or difficult to handle. A lighter lead is better. The longer it gets, the more difficult it is to handle and you end up dragging it on the floor and can disturb the search area.

Here is a cotton web line:

Here is a Biothane leash that I really like, it is very comfortable in the hand and never tangles and bonus, they come in lots of colors:

If you have a STRONG dog, you might want to consider a Gripper Leash.  It’s a cotton line with rubber woven into it.  It’s easy to hold even when it’s wet or you have hot dog slime on your hands.

We will be using all your NW gear (harness and leash) in Week 6 so you should start thinking about what you want to use and if you have to order anything.

Leash Handling

Here are some guidelines on leash handling:

  • If you have done tracking before, the line handling is the same, but with a shorter leash.
  • The key is to keep the leash out of the dog’s way without tension.
  • Use both hands and feed the leash through your hands as they move around. You know you aren’t doing it correctly if your holding the leash over your head to keep it off the ground. Just use your other hand to feed it back out to shorten the lead between you and your dog.
    • feed in any excess line when the distance between you decreases
    • feed out line when your dog moves out – you’ll want to have some extra to feed out (not holding end of line)
    • the line should always move freely through one hand (for instance your right). The other hand (for instance your left) feeds in or out.
  • Make sure the leash closest to your dog’s body is above their back and not touching them or getting in the way/tangled in their feet.
  • Make sure you are not hovering too close or crowding your dog – GIVE THEM SPACE. You can actually be blocking access to a hide or affecting their search path to get to odor.
  • When you are handling, you need to make sure you don’t get the leash caught up on something that causes them to be inadvertently corrected.

When wearing NW gear …

It’s important to only have your dog’s gear on when doing NW. So when you are working outside, ALWAYS potty your dog BEFORE starting any NW and BEFORE putting their harness on. It’s an elimination if your dog “eliminates” in the search area!!

Never let your dog think they can go the bathroom while in their NW harness.

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