Training your dog is a never-ending feat. From basic obedience to tricks, and even some specialized work, there is always more for your dog to learn. One great exercise that you can teach your dog is nosework. The great thing about nosework is that you can literally do it anywhere! Dogs naturally want to put their noses to work so teaching them the basics can be fun for both of you.
Did you know that your dog has an incredible sense of smell much more powerful than yours? Helping them use this power for good can give them confidence as well as keep them busy both physically and mentally. As you know, a tired dog is a happy dog. Finding new ways to keep them entertained is important.
Dogs loving having a job to do. Even the laziest of dogs get excited by having a task to complete. Dogs of all shapes and sizes can benefit from nosework and it’s never too early or too late to begin teaching them.
The first thing to do is pick out a high-value treat for your dog to find. If there is a special treat that you give your dog on occasion, you can start by using this. Try to use something that has a unique smell and something that they just won’t be able to resist.
Next, pick a command that you are going to use when it is time for your dog to hunt for their special treat. Commands like “find it” are good words to use. However, make sure that you do not use this command or any words that sound like it in other training practices with your dog. To begin, have your dog stay at a given location. While she is watching you, place the treat at the other end of the room. When you say “find it” you dog knows that they can go retriever their treat. Repeat this a few times and get your dog used to waiting for the command and then taking the treat.
Once your dog seems to understand the game, hide the treat in a different place where your dog cannot see it. Gradually you can increase the distance and start placing the treat in the next room. The whole idea is that at the end you should be able to hide things around the house and have your dog sniff them out when you use the command.
Another fun nosework game is called “Which Hand?” Dogs love this because it has an instant gratification effect when they choose the correct hand. All you have to do is have your dog sit, and place a treat in one of your hands. Next, close your fists and ask your dog “which hand?” Let your dog sniff and choose which hand they suspect the treat is in. Then, open your hand up and give them the treat. If they choose the wrong hand, no problem! Open up both hands to show them the treat, shut your hands, and ask them “which hand?” again.
There are some great YouTube tutorials to help you learn the basics of nosework, as well as giving you some tips and tricks. This video even teaches you how to make a nosework toy that can help your dog learn the basics even easier.
It can take time for your dog to learn nose work so don’t be discouraged if they don’t pick it up right away. With some practice, and some enticing treats, your dog will become an expert in ‘nose’ time!