I don’t remember where I first heard this phrase in relation to Nosework but I think it was used to explain why the judges in NACSW trials who mostly come from the world of professional detection, enjoy judging Nosework trials. They said they enjoyed judging at our trials so much because “nobody dies and no one goes to jail”.
Nosework enthusiasts are finding more learning options for their dogs which is a benefit to everyone. As long as the dogs and humans are having fun, it’s all good as far as I’m concerned. But in our enthusiasm, sometimes we forget that this activity was invented by people who wanted to enrich the lives of our pet dogs not to offer us an opportunity to teach our best friend to locate bombs and drugs.
On some of the public online Nosework discussion forums, sometimes debate can get fairly intense as different methods and techniques are discussed. I love a good debate myself, I don’t mind even if it gets a little heated as long as everyone remains polite but one thing that annoys me is when someone takes themselves and this activity too seriously. They argue that we should employ the same training techniques used by the professionals, that “If it’s good enough for the professionals, it’s good enough for me”. Well that may be but is it fair to your dog?
Think about the differences between dogs specially bred, raised and trained to work many hours at a time in very difficult conditions and then look at your dog. Is he snoozing on the couch right now? Our dogs are very similar to those professional detection dogs in many ways but they are also very different. Many of our dogs were bred to be companions, not working dogs and they do a very fine job of enriching our lives but they would most likely fail if asked to live and work the way detection dogs do.
Nosework is a way we can learn about and enjoy the special talents of our dogs’ scenting and hunting abilities. It’s a fun game and an absorbing sport. But it isn’t professional detection work and we don’t need to emulate the pros to the extent that we lose track of our dogs’ true importance to us. We can use different methods to show them the goals of this game than professionals use to train the dogs who are on their way into a war zone. So in your enthusiasm for achieving a snazzy alert or fast search times, just remember that your dog isn’t finding IEDs, just a scented Q-tip.