Do you know humans have six million olfactory receptors but dogs have up to 300 million! This super sense of smell enables your dog to discover buried truffles, find lost hikers or even locate cadavers beneath the water. It stands to reason then, that you should somehow be harnessing this amazing power in your own dogs.
Most domestic dogs today are a bit out of practice to use their nose. But the good news is with just a little planning and patience, you can add fun scent games to help your furry friend utilize this untapped smell power more!
Dogs are born trackers of prey, competitors and other predators. Take advantage of this by placing the scent of a new animal into your waggy dog’s yard and see if he picks up on it.
To begin, give an old towel or rag to a friend and have him rub it all over his dog or cat. Then, without your furry friend present, place the cloth out of sight somewhere in the yard, beneath a bush or behind a tree. Then let your dog out and see whether he can find the scent! You can try this randomly with the scent of different animals to keep your furry friend guessing.
Let your dog find the treat. This is a simple way to enhance your dog’s scenting prowess. It requires you to do nothing but place treats randomly around the house in the hopes that your furry friend will locate them by scent. Once he finds the first one, he will quickly key into the possibility of finding others with his nose. Start by placing one or two treats down in full view, while he is not present in the room. Repeat this process, but begin placing the treats in less obvious places like in the corner of a room, just beneath a sofa or coffee table, or even partially beneath a doggie cushion. You will soon see him scenting for them rather than looking for them. Vary placement and quantity.
Food isn’t the only thing dogs are interested in smelling. Unique scents such as essential oils can motivate dogs and will excite their tracking instincts. To start, get a favorite toy (a ball works well) and put a few drops of essential oil onto it. You can play a quick game of indoor fetch, followed by a reward. Do so several times in a day. Then hide the ball and let your furry friend look for it. Keep at it and praise the dog when he follows the scent. When he does find the ball, reward him! Once mastered in the house, move it out into the yard. After that you can change the scent and the toy and begin again. You can any thing your dog likes the smell of like chicken fat, peanut butter or cream cheese.
Here’s a simple way to rev up your dog’s sense of smell. Get some small tasty treats like a bit of turkey meat or cheese as they have strong aroma. Take it into your palm and make a loose, palm-down fist. Then offer your dog that fist and let him sniff. Tell him to find the treat. Once he has sniffed the right hand, offer him the treat. Repeat this a few times. Then do this alternating the hand in which you place the treat. As you continue, wait until you can see his nose really alert on the treat hand before opening up. The idea is to teach him that the location of treat varies and can be found only by scenting it out.
Domestic dogs know they will find a meal in the same spot every day. But what if, when you called him for dinner and place his bowl in a different spot one day? Your dog will instantly begin looking for it sniffing excitedly and find his bowl in seconds. The next day, hide the bowl somewhere across your home and call him for dinner. It will take him a bit longer to find it, but he will find it. Once you’ve established this game, move his bowl once or twice per week and make him hunt it down.
Here’s one that uses you as the treat. While your dog is distracted somewhere in the home, hide under a bed, in a closet or somewhere he wouldn’t normally expect you to be. Then just wait. He will inevitably begin searching for you. Once he finds you, praise and reward! If you are in a closet and you hear him sniff at the door, you’ll know he’s doing what dogs have done for centuries. You can play this game with your furry friend even outdoors.
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