Fun Games to Play with Your Dog at Home
Canine Scent Work and Nose Work Training
The nose knows. I’m sure you are aware that a dog’s nose is an amazing piece of work. But did you know that a dog’s nose is estimated to have about 100-300 million olfactory receptors? We humans have a measly 6 million. Even though a canine’s brain is smaller than ours, their smell center is 40 times larger! It’s no wonder they make great scent detection workers.
But today, it’s all about fun games to play with your dog—specifically, teaching your dog a little nose work for fun, using boxes. This dog article is by no means going to teach you the rules and regulations of K-9 nose work—it’s just for a little fun in the home. If you are interested in nose work classes, start by visiting the National Association of Canine Scent Work.
Watch Dexter’s dog nose work demo video and don’t forget to subscribe!
Steps in Teaching a Dog Canine Nose Work for Fun
- Teach Sniffy–Sniff or Find It: Grab a handful of tasty, yummy, and stinky dog treats. Something like cooked meat, freeze-dried meat, or dehydrated meat. Say, “find it” as you toss a treat in front of your dog. Repeat this process with gradually tossing the treats a bit further from your dog, so that he has to move to get the treat.
- Find It in Boxes: Grab a handful of shallow, but open boxes. You want the boxes to be short enough that your dog can easily grab a treat. Place the boxes around an open room. Say, “find it” as you toss a treat inside one box. Allow your dog to eat the treat. You may need to encourage him a little if he is unsure.
- At this stage, the dog is using his sight, not his nose.
- Pro Tip 1: If your dog is unsure about the box, toss the treats on something shallower, such as a paper plate.
- Pro Tip 2: If your dog is still building confidence about going into the boxes, as he reaches in to grab his find it, toss a few bonus treats in.
- Find It in Boxes Challenge: Once your dog his happily going into the boxes for the find-it treats, arrange the boxes to make them more of a challenge. Some ideas are putting them on their side, closing part of the lid, or using larger boxes.
- Out of Sight Boxes: Next, teach your dog to find the treats by using his nose. Place him in another room on a STAY or shut the door. Hide some treats in all the open boxes. Then release him to “Find It.” Encourage your dog as he’s sniffing and finding the rewards. Occasionally, toss a few bonus treats in when he finds one.
- Out of Sight Boxes Challenge: Once your dog is mastering finding the treats in all the boxes, start to cut down how many boxes actually have treats inside. This teaches your dog to use his nose instead of just assuming each box has food.
Remember, it’s about fun things to do with your dog, so relax and enjoy the ride.
Do you think your dog would enjoy this game? Tell me in the comments.
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