The Sport of Nose Works – Training Your Dog to Smell

by Gayla on March 22, 2014

clip_image001Training your dog to smell? That sounds quite strange. After all, what is the one thing that every dog is known for? Well, there are many things I suppose. Big cute eyes, being man’s best friend and stealing the trash are just a few that come to mind, but the answer is their nose. Dogs have an extremely sensitive sense of smell and they can be trained to locate items based on their scent alone.

This sense is very useful to us. Police departments rely on their dogs’ sense of smell to track criminals. Dogs are used in airports to sniff out illegal imports. Studies have shown that dogs may even be able to smell out cancer in humans. If you are wondering how in the world your furry four legged family member can become a super scenting beast, the answer is simple – training.

What is nose works?

Nose Works is a sport that allows canines to enjoy a new, fun game that uses something they’re naturally good at. It initially involves encouraging your dog to use his nose to search for his favorite toys. This is done by having a series of boxes in a room, and asking him to search them all to find the toy. This not only trains him to rely more on his sense of smell, but it also helps build self-confidence and can provide physical and mental exercise.

As your dog improves, so can his training. You can start to hide objects in different rooms or even putting them outside in the yard. Eventually, he will increase his ability to sniff things out and be able to locate items that are well hidden.

As well as identifying the box containing the toy, a successful find should be rewarded with treats, cuddles and praise. This will encourage your dog to try even harder next time, because succeeding is so much fun!

Any dog can play this game.

Some breeds of dog, such as the Beagle or Bloodhound, have been selected to have a stronger sense of smell. However, one of the best things about nose work is that all dogs have a nose! Dogs of all breeds and all ages can learn to use their nose to find their toys, treats or anything else you want to hide away in boxes or around your home or yard. In some areas, training classes are conducted to help your dog learn to sniff, but these are optional; you can start to train your dog at home. You really do not need to be a dog trainer or have some sort of specialized knowledge to play this game with your much loved pooch.

Searching by scent is natural for dogs when they are in the wild. They need to be able to smell out their food or even danger. By providing the opportunity to play nose work, you allow your dog to develop one of his strongest instincts, and he will learn quickly. Having fun together will also enhance and strengthen your rapport.

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