Surefooted Sniffing workshop

Increasing Proprioception in the Nose Work Dog to Build Confidence in Searching

Location: The Ark, 44 Littleton County Road, Harvard, MA
Please note: The workshop will be held in the barn loft area, so it does require going up a set of stairs. There is a hand railing and the stairs risers are solid (not open).
Instructors: Gail McCarthy, CNWI and Anne Steciw, CNWI
Dates: Feb. 25 (snow date March 3), April 14 and April 28
Time: 9:00 am to 12:00 pm AND 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Cost: $350 per team (12 spots available per session)

Afternoon class participants as of 1/25/24:

  1. Lucy & Tia
  2. Paula & Daisy
  3. JoAnna & Griphook or Rowena
  4. Michele & Luke
  5. Karen & Eis
  6. Lisa & Summer
  7. Gwen & Gaga
  8. Deb & Rory
  9. Juli & Jazzie
  10. Ailsa & Piper
  11. Sara & Adelie
  12. Heather & Nike

Morning class participants:

  1. Jill & Loki
  2. Elizabeth & Riser
  3. Kate & Bishop
  4. Dorothy & Rokko
  5. Cheryl & Shelby
  6. Debbie & Sadie
  7. Veronica & Dude
  8. Rita & Callie

Increasing Proprioception in the Nose Work Dog to Build Confidence in Searching

What is proprioception?
Proprioception is the perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body. It allows the body to perceive its own position in space. For example, proprioception enables a person to close their eyes and to touch their nose with their index finger. In dogs, proprioception translates to a dog who is so comfortable as to how his body moves in complex environments that he ignores everything around him in his single-minded search for target odor.

Why should we increase proprioception in our nose work dogs?
Proprioception is necessary for precise and fluid movement in complex environments without the dog focusing on the environment. Only a dog that is comfortable working in an area will be able to hunt to the best of his abilities. However, if the dog is worried about the footing in a search area, or if that dog is concerned about working in tight spaces or under tables, then the focus of the dog will be on how he moves in those areas and not about making a find. So, increasing a dog’s comfort on funky footings and complex pieces of equipment will enable that dog to successfully hunt in challenging search areas, something that is found more and more often in trials.

What are the objectives of this workshop?
The objective of this workshop, which will be run over three days, is to increase your dog’s proprioception by exposing your dog to a variety of different surfaces and equipment that your dog will have to navigate. A number of different stations will be set up on the first day and then incorporated into real searches for target odor on the second and third day. You will be given suggestions as to how to continue this training at home.

Once a dog becomes comfortable on a piece of equipment that once concerned the dog, then that dog’s confidence in his own abilities increases and he is more willing to explore and solve other challenges that once would have worried him. The end goal, of course, is that the dog no longer thinks about surfaces or the items in a search area. His sole focus is on the hunt.

Come join us to see how you can increase your dog’s proprioception and thereby your dog’s confidence in the search! Environmentally sensitive dogs especially would benefit from the concepts you will learn in this workshop. While a three-day workshop is not going to immediately change a dog’s mindset, working on proprioception a little bit each day will make a difference and this workshop will give you the tools to do just that.

The Ark in Harvard, MA.
Black lab retriever sitting on top of two tables with handler standing and facing the dog.
Pfiadh sitting on top of the climbing station.