Michelle Munson has worked with dogs and their humans since 1991, and has been teaching Scent Work classes since 2015. That year she became only the fourth instructor in Texas to earn a Certified Nose Work Instructor (CNWI) designation through the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW), the oldest and most rigorous scent work organization in the United States. In 2016 she achieved the ranks of both Judge and Chief Search Designer for another national scent work competition sponsor, United States Canine Scent Sports (USCSS). Per USCSS, the Chief Search Designer is required to be an “expert on odor” and responsible for designing the search areas and setting the hides for trials. In 2017, Ms. Munson satisfied the requirements to become an Expert Judge for AKC Scent Work competitions (judging all levels from Novice through Detective), and today is invited to judge at AKC trials around the country. Since 2017 she has also hosted trials in Central Texas for NACSW, USCSS, and AKC. When not teaching, Michelle is out competing with her three canine companions, Golden Retriever Muira (AKC Scent Work Master and NW3 Elite), Bernese Mountain Dog Apollo (AKC Scent Work Excellent and NW3x2), and her English Cocker Spaniel Jazz (AKC Scent Work Advanced and NW1).
While many scent work instructors, including Michelle, embrace positive training methods, from the perspective of her students, what sets Michelle’s classes apart is the integration of her extensive pre scent work formal certification (CBCC-KA) and experience as a dog trainer and behaviorist. Having spent fourteen years working to rehabilitate reactive dogs (where a split second can make the difference between disaster and disaster averted) for shelters and individuals, as well as decades working with dogs with behavior problems, Michelle has become a keen observer and interpreter of dog body language and communication. Consistent with the philosophy of the NACSW, Michelle believes that the strongest bond/communication arises when the dog is allowed to develop, organically, his own way of communicating to his handler that he is working on a search problem as well as when he has solved it. As a result, her classes are designed to train the handler to observe and understand what the dog is communicating during the search, as well as to expose the dog to a structured progression of scent complexity scenarios so that he gains competence and confidence.