July 5, 2015
Nose Work is still a new sport. It is growing at an astonishing rate, as handlers and their dogs fall in love with this fascinating activity. In fact, there are brand new Nose Work recommended books that did not exist before. Even if you go to regular K9 Nose Work classes, there is so much more to learn.
Fred Helfers has written a book focused on sport detection handlers. It covers handling, the science of olfaction (how dogs perceive odors), training, and other related topics. Fred has been training law enforcement detection dogs and handlers for over 30 years, and is a recognized expert in his field. This is near the top of my list of Nose Work recommended books, and the only one specifically about Nose Work.
We live in a wonderful era for learning what makes dogs who they are. Since the 1990s, science has been taking dogs seriously. Scientists are conducting marvelous research, and some excellent writers are sharing that knowledge with us. There are so many fantastic books discussing dog training, ethology, and the science of dogs. We’ll concentrate on those books that will helpful to detection dogs and their handlers.
We suggest starting with Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know, by Alexandra Horowitz. Dr Horowitz is a compelling writer, and the content of the book is fascinating. She discusses in plain English how dogs perceive the world through their various senses; she backs it all up with scientific study. While the whole book is fascinating, the sections on how dogs take in, analyze, savor, and process odor are invaluable reading for anyone handling a scenting dog.
Solo was a singleton (only pup in the litter) German Shepherd Dog that grew up to be, let’s say, challenging. Dr Cat Warren struggled with his issues, until she discovered that cadaver-detection training was the perfect outlet for Solo’s energies, and allowed him shine. What the Dog Knows: Scent, Science, and the Amazing Ways Dogs Perceive the World is a blend of her journey of discovery, information about the world of cadaver-detection dogs, and canine olfactory science. As an English professor and former newspaper reporter, she is a terrific writer. We highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the training and science of detection dogs, either for sport or as a profession.
Scent of the Missing: Love & Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog is Susannah Charleson’s memoir about raising, training, and living her with Search-and-Rescue Golden Retrievers. Her riveting story-telling makes this book a great read, as well as an education into the world of Search-and-Rescue canines. While the training is different, the olfactory and scenting information is very applicable to the sport of K9 Nose Work.
Tracking is quite a different skill set than detection scenting, but there are many overlaps. Scent and the Scenting Dog by William Syrotuck is a must-read for those who participate in tracking. It’s rather dry, but it’s short, and packed with information and diagrams. Chapters 6-8 will be most relevant to Nose Work handlers: what happens to scent on the ground and in the air, in different terrains and weather conditions.
For the human part of the team, Conquering Ring Nerves by Psychoanalyst Diane Peters Mayer is a short but valuable read on how to keep cool while competing. While it was specifically written about Agility, the concepts apply to those engaged in any competitive canine sport.
No summer reading list is complete without some humor. This book is very funny and a little rude. Just like our dogs. Read My Dog: The Paradox: A Lovable Discourse about Man’s best Friend, by The Oatmeal. You won’t be sorry.
What is your favorite Nose Work book? We’re always excited to learn more!
Copyright by Linda V Fletcher, 2015
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