Canine nose work: Medical Venture Fund

Medical Venture Fund, ANU Medical Students, wellbeing

By Carolyn Eddy (2019 award recipient)

Thanks to the ANU Medical Venture Award I was able to undertake a nose work class with my dog Murphy. The principle of the classes is to introduce your dog to using their nose rather than their eyes and to teach them to focus, work independently and eventually to signal to you when they have found what they are searching for – in this class it was delicious treats! The classes also teach the handlers how to encourage their dog without actually directing them and how to read their dog’s behaviour as to when they have found a scent and when they have found the source.

The classes are designed to lead to competitions but for me and Murphy it was just a fun activity we could do together and the introduction of a perfect rainy-day game when walks aren’t an option. It was pretty interesting to see the change in the dogs over the 6 weeks from apprehensive about all the cardboard boxes on the ground in week one to professional level searchers in any environment in week 6.

It’s amazing how only a few minutes of using their noses to search can tire them out so much and the different style of searching each dog had. It was a really amazing experience and I’m so happy that I can use the skills we both learnt in this class to continue the training at home and one day I might be able to hunt for truffles with Murphy like a proper Italian Lagotto Romagnolo.