Dogs of all ages welcome to Winter Sniff ‘n Go

By Amy Fawe
Citizen Chronicle Writer

BRIMFIELD — Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

On Sunday, Feb. 25, professional dog trainer Laurie Merritt is holding a Winter Sniff ‘n Go event at Hitchcock Free Academy for 27 or more of their Nose Work dogs and their handlers.

Merritt instructs at Hitchcock Academy in both sport and manners multiple times a week.

This event will be focusing on K9 Nose Work. K9 Nose work is a sport that utilizes the incredible ability of a dog’s nose. Just like several sports, there are many competition levels, such as trials.

“It’s an opportunity for dogs to practice in a trial-like situation,” Merritt said. “The smells and number of dogs and people at trials are greater than in training sessions, so this is a perfect chance for the dogs to practice before a trial. This Sniff ‘n Go is designed to appeal to all levels,” from beginner dogs searching for food (primary), to intermediate and elite levels.

This is an event that will focus on their skills according to training. One or two objects are placed according to their level. The dogs will use their noses to sniff out the objects. The dogs are trained to sniff in four elements: containers, interiors, exteriors and vehicles. In this competition, they will only be using the interior and container elements.

This event is a low-stress way for the animals and owners to meet and greet in a non-competitive way and to network.

“K9 Nose Work is a sport for dogs of all breeds, ages, and abilities,” said Dianna Caissie, assistant director of Hitchcock Academy. “Older dogs can enjoy the sport because there is no running or jumping to put stress on their joints. Younger dogs can run circles around the room if they want and tire themselves out to their heart’s content. Laurie likes to say that we learn from the dogs. We are just setting up the game (of locating the hides) and letting them do the work or searching and indicating that they’ve found the hide.”

For more information on K9 Nose Work and how you can take part in this sport, check out Merritt’s K9 Nose Work classes at www.hitchcockacademy.org or call 413-245-9977.

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