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).

dogs, old dogs

Homemade Yummy Dog Medicine Ball Treats

I’m not destitute, but I hate to waste money. Even more than that, I hate to shove pills down my dog’s throat twice a day.

Stormy doesn’t like store-bought pill covers unless I put one pill in each cover. That would mean 6 covers a day and at $10 for 30 covers it would cost me $50 a month to purchase them. My homemade pill covers cost about $2.50 a month.

I can put all the pills into one homemade medicine ball and Stormy begs for her furosemide. Stormy is on the right in the photo expectantly waiting for her treat. (Truman Blue in the middle, and old Leala Bear on the left.)

It takes about 20 minutes to make the medicine balls. The size may need to be adjusted for smaller dogs, but Stormy who weighs 65 pounds can easily swallow a 1″ loaded medicine ball without chewing. The trick is to make the biggest ball the dog will swallow whole. Test several sizes until you find the right one.

Dog Medicine Ball Recipe (pill covers)

1 can smelly loaf dog food, mostly meat (I use American Journey Limited Ingredient Lamb Sweet Potato)

1 2/3 cup oat flour (don’t use wheat, but your dog may prefer other types of flour)

1 1/3 cup almond or pumpkin seed flour (start with 1 cup add more if dough is sticky)

Mix all ingredients with a fork in a bowl until smooth. If it is sticky, add more flour until the dough is still pliable but is not sticky.

Roll into about 60, 1” balls (or the size your dog can swallow whole)

Store 5 days worth of balls in a sealed container in the fridge

Freeze the remaining balls (on a flat pan not touching 1 hour, then into a freezer bag for storage)

Thaw enough balls for 5 days at a time.

Important Hints

When you go to put the meds in, flatten the ball, put the meds on the flattened ball, then reform it into a ball. BUT do not touch the outside of the ball with the fingers that handled the meds.

Before you start using loaded medicine balls, It is best to “trick” the dog by teaching him/her how delicious the balls are with ½ balls with no meds. (They love to be tricked like this.)

At each medication, I sacrifice one ball. I divide it in half, and give my two non-medicated dogs each ½ a ball before I give the loaded ball to the dog that needs the meds. (note the three expectant faces in the first photo). Alternatively, you could give your medicated dog an unloaded half before giving the medicated ball

Book Cover for Cozy Therapy Dog, Connecting the Dots, A Truman Blue Mystery Book 1, Jane McAllen
Cozy mystery, dogs, elderly and dogs, Labrador Retriever, Margie Vonn, Mixed breed, old dogs, Senior dog owners, Therapy Dog, Truman Blue Mysteries, Uncategorized

Book Launch! It’s Here! The first Truman Blue Mystery is out

The first book in the series is now available digitally for free from August 15 through August 19, 2020. Enjoy reading about the real life dog Truman Blue who is fictionalized Cozy Therapy Dog, Truman Blue Mysteries. Is fun, with a splash of education! Click here to order.

Book Cover for Cozy Therapy Dog, Connecting the Dots, A Truman Blue Mystery Book 1, Jane McAllen
Cozy Therapy Dog, Connecting the Dots, A Truman Blue Mystery Book 1
dogs, elderly and dogs, Labrador Retriever, Mixed breed, old dogs, puppy, Senior dog owners

Dogs and Senior Owners

What size dog? What happens if I go first.

One of the saddest situations I have seen on multiple occasions, is when an old person passes away and leaves their beloved old dog. A beloved old dog who is not wanted by any family member. It is so sad when these dogs end up in shelters or put in a backyard, alone.

Let’s face it. Old dogs are hard. I don’t want my dogs to be old, but then I know (hope) they will get that way and I have planned for it. I certainly do NOT want them to die young. Old dogs take additional home and vet care. They lose control of their bladders, they need special food. Old dogs are hard to care for, but I would not give up my old dogs for all the gold in the world. Not for me, but for them. They deserve the loving care of the person who has loved them.

So how do you plan for your dog if it out lives you? (Younger people my die unexpectedly, so this applies to them, too)

Let’s look at what happened to my dad’s cat, Joe. My dad was in his 80s when my mother passed. He wanted an animal friend, so we adult kids got him Joe, a huge friendly young adult cat. Joe gave my dad a lot of pleasure. When dad died, Joe was middle aged. Because Joe was friendly, well behaved, well socialized and loved by family, friends and the nursing home staff, there were many offers from people to take Joe. Joe lived out the remainder of his life in luxury at my brother’s house. That’s the way it should work.

There are serious considerations if you are a senior who is getting a new animal. First consider your age and health and the longevity of the animal you are bringing into your home.

Seniors who are experienced dog people, should remember that they might not have the energy and stamina to raise a puppy of an active breed such as a Jack Russell or a dog who needs a lot of exercise, such as a Labrador Retriever. You may not have the strength to train a large dog who needs a lot of attention, like a German Shepherd. Consider purchasing or adopting an older dog who has slowed down a little and is well trained. No one is going to want your dog if it not well trained and is nutsy because you could not provide for its needs.

For seniors who are adopting their first animal, choosing a well behaved adult animal is not a choice, it is a requirement. Seek the advice of professionals and animal experienced family. Don’t even consider a puppy unless you are living with a younger caretaker who has plenty of dog experience and who wants to help care for the new dog.

If you already have a dog you need to make plans for that dog if you die first.

Start by making sure your dog is well trained and socialized. While you still can, take it to training classes and take it out with you so it can experience the world and learn to not be afraid of new situations.

If your dog needs special care and medicines be sure there is someone willing to take over the medical care and the expenses of the medicines. If not, consider leaving the horrible but necessary instruction to euthanize your dog. What is worse? A dog euthanized a year or two early, or a dog living the end of its life sick, miserable and lonely?

Face the facts. You are the planner for your dog. Plan ahead so you dog does not suffer.