Cozy mystery, dog play, dogs, Mixed breed, Nose work, old dogs, Scent work

Dogs Love to Play Scent Work (nose work)

Scent work (AKA nose work) is a fun, easy game to play with your dog. You probably have the items needed, right there in your home. You can do this inside or outside. We do both.

What you Need Besides a Dog (I bet this works with cats too)

  • Treats
  • Something smelly (something you have at your house OR what needed for AKC training)
    • Around the house (make sure the odor isn’t offensive to you dog)
      • Baking flavor extract (example – mint extract)
      • Strong smelling spice (example – cloves)
    • AKC Scent Work
      • Birch essential oil – first level
      • Anise essential oil – second level (Pimpinella anisum – NOT star anise Illicium verum)
  • Something cottonish if you are using oils (consider the dog might eat the scented piece, so make it small enough to pass through)
    • 100% cotton ball (cut in half or quarters)
    • 100% cotton swab (with paper stems cut in half)
    • small scrap of cotton cloth (1″ square)
  • A SCENT container that fits inside the glass storage container (odor free)
    • used pill bottle (I drill 5 largish holes in the tops)
    • any small container (the lid will need to be open, or have holes drilled into it)
  • A glass container with a tight lid for storing the scent container (odor free)

Step-by-step Training

Preparation

  • For each step, the scent container must be open at top, or have holes in it, and contain scented a cotton ball, swab, or scrap.
  • Scent the cotton with 3-5 drops of scent (around once a week).  (Less as dog progresses) OR put a tablespoon of spice in the container
  • Think of a word to use to send the dog after the scent container, a word such as “search” “find” “buscar” chercher” “stinky”. It doesn’t make any difference what word you use as long as it doesn’t sound like another command the dog knows.

Hints

  • MAKE IT FUN!!
  • Treats must be provided within 1 1/2 seconds of the dog finding the container.
  • Do not move to next step until the first one is solid. (The first few steps may be learned quickly but do them each at least 5 times) Go back to previous step whenever necessary.
  • (I have three dogs. I was only training Truman. After Truman was at Step 5, I allowed the other two to accompany him and everyone got treats. A second dog learned how to do this by watching)
  • DO NOT punish or scold your dog! This is for FUN! Be a cheerleader and encourager.
  • MAKE IT FUN!

Steps

Step 1: Let the dog sniff the container, give the treat when the dog puts its nose on the container out of curiosity. You can start using your “word command”.

Step 2: Making the dog wait, place container on floor with a treat on top. Say “search” (or find, or whatever you want) and let the dog get the treat. Encourage the dog with words. This is supposed to be fun.

Step 3: Keep moving the container with the treat on top farther away from you and send the dog to search.  (Most dogs seem to find containers on the ground more easily. Start there.)

Step 4: With the dog watching, hide the container/treat behind something. Send the dog to search. It is fine to use the same or nearby places repeatedly in the beginning. Use a different hiding place in each room.  The scent may linger in a spot and confuse the dog.

Step 5: Take the dog out of the room. Hide the container/with a treat in a “regular” hiding place. Bring the dog in and send it to search.

Step 6: Take the dog out of the room. Hide the container/NO treat. Bring the dog in and send it to search. When the dog finds the container give treat AT the location of the container. You can drop it next to the container if you want. (In competitions, the dog must ALERT the owner, but if you are just playing, don’t worry about that.)

Step 7: Complicate the playing by moving the container to high and low positions. Hide under pillows, etc with a route where the scent can escape. Always reward with a treat as quickly as you can (within 1 1/2 seconds).

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