A dog’s nose is powerful. Compared to humans, who only have six million olfactory receptors in our noses, dogs have up to 300 million in theirs. Additionally, a dog’s brain has a part devoted to odor analysis that is around 40 times greater than ours. Dogs also have a condition known as neophilia, which causes them to be drawn to new and interesting scents. Truly, their noses are their most useful feature.
And if you’re looking for a new ideal activity to try with your dog, scent training might be the one for you! It’s accessible, and the best part is that it can be done by almost any dog, regardless of breed, size, or age.
Scent training, sometimes known as nose work, helps your dog detect odors. While your dog may not be searching for explosives or drugs, they can use scent training to identify odors while benefiting from some mental stimulation. Scent training for dogs follows the same approach as detection dogs in the police business. If your dog is having behavioral problems, this is great mental stimulation for them!
Without the use of a scent kit, you can start training your dog to find and identify smells. All you need is a location to hide them and some nice, stinky dog treats. You can start with easy games and progress to the more difficult ones.
Game 1: Muffin Tin Puzzle
This simple scent game for beginners just calls for a few things that you probably already have. All you need are 12 tennis balls, an empty muffin tin, and some delicious stinky dog treats. Place a few snacks in one or two of the muffin tin’s holes before covering every opening with tennis balls. Remove the tennis balls from the container and let your dog explore it to find the rewards. When your dog locates the rewards, praise him.
Game 2: Box Search
For pet owners who want to do scent work at home, this game is great for beginners. You should set up this game when your dog is out of sight. Place several empty boxes on the floor where your dog can reach them. Some of the boxes can be filled with treats; the rest can remain empty. Bring your dog inside and instruct him to look around the room for the rewards. When your dog has located all of the rewards that are hidden, enter the room carrying new treats and lure your dog away from the location by keeping your hand over the treat. Give the treat you used to lure them away and praise your dog. This makes it easier for your dog to understand that you are playing a game together. Additionally, it will prevent them from wasting additional time looking for more treats and becoming discouraged.
Game 3: Shell Game
Do you like magic? The shell game is a dog adaptation of the old magic trick where you put a treat under one of three cups, shuffle them around in front of your dog, and then let him discover the treat. You must first demonstrate how to play this game to your dog before you can begin. A reward should be placed under one cup for your dog to see. Praise him and lift the cup when he paws or noses at it so he can eat the treat. Repeat after adding two more empty cups. Lift the cup and show him it is empty if he reaches for it. Lift the cup containing the treat to show him later, but prevent him from eating it. You can start shuffling them to see if he can find the proper cup once he realizes there is only one treat cup.
Puppies enjoy your company and love to sniff things. Practicing nose work could end up being your dog’s favorite activity, whether you use it as a simple training game at home or as a competitive sport.