Scent games are a great way to provide your dog with physical and mental stimulation. In this article, find out 5 fun scent games to play with your dog.
Find the treat
Next time you’re in the backyard or on a walk, play a ‘find the treat’ game with your dog, she’ll love it!
· To start with, command her to sit
· Place a treat about a metre away from her
· Release her from the sit position and allow her to eat the treat
· Do this again, but this time, put the treat further away, but still in her line of vision
· Next time, hide the treat somewhere else, so that when you release her from the sit, she needs to hunt around to find it
Depending on your dog’s patience and intelligence, you can hide the treat in complex places.
Tricky treat is where you hide the treat inside a dog toy, which requires your dog to bounce the toy around in order to get the treat out. You can buy special toys for these games, or, make your own by simply hiding treats under bowls or in sneaky places around your yard.
Treat trail involves making a trail with treats, starting with a short and simple trail, then progressing to a longer and more difficult one.
To start with, put your dog in the ‘sit’ position and make a small trail of treats. Release her and allow her to eat the trail. Next, leave a longer distance between each treat. Eventually, once she really understands the game, you can make a long, complex trail in a wide, open space.
Scent work is where your dog is trained to look for a particular scent, and is rewarded for doing so. The better your dog gets at scent work, the more complex you can make the challenges.
· Decide on a scent that she will want to find. This could be a toy or a food treat (it just needs to be irresistible to your dog so that she’s driven to find it).
· Get around five containers such as cardboard boxes, shoe boxes or food containers with holes punched in the top (like sturdy Tupperware).
· Have someone hold your dog on a lead, and to start with, let her see you hide the treat in one of the five boxes.
· When ready, allow her to go straight to the box and get the treat. Reward her with lots of praise and pats when she shows any interest in the treat box. When she’s found the treat, you can give her the treat or reward her with a game that she loves. Be sure to reward her right next to the box that has the treat in it.
· Next time, let her see you put the treat in the box, but this time, mix up the boxes (but keep the treat in the same box as before). Move away from the boxes, and then let her find the box with the treat in it.
· As you did before, start praising her as soon as she shows any level of interest in the treat box, and reward her again at the actual box.
As you can see, you can make this game a lot harder as time goes on, adding a lot more boxes!
There are so many scent games to play! Hopefully you find these simple games fun and rewarding for both you and your dog.