Do you know that humans have six million olfactory receptors but dogs have up to 300 million? This super sense of smell allows your dog to discover buried truffles, find lost hikers, or even locate dead bodies underwater. It stands to reason then, that you should somehow harness this incredible power in your own dogs.
Most domestic dogs today are a bit out of practice to use their noses. But the good news is that with just a little planning and patience, you can add fun scent games to help your furry friend make more use of this untapped scent power!
Dogs are born prey trackers, competitors, and other predators. Take advantage of this by placing the scent of a new animal in your dog’s yard and see if it detects it.
To start, give an old towel or rag to a friend and ask them to rub it on your dog or cat. Then, without your furry friend present, place the fabric out of sight somewhere in the yard, under a bush, or behind a tree. Then let your dog out and see if he can find the smell! You can try this randomly with the scent of different animals to keep your furry friend guessing.
Let your dog find the gift. This is a simple way to improve your dog’s olfactory prowess. It requires that you do nothing more than randomly place treats around the house in the hope that your furry friend will locate them by smell. Once you find the first one, you will quickly discover the possibility of finding others with your nose. Begin by placing one or two treats in plain sight, while he is not present in the room. Repeat this process, but start placing treats in less obvious places, such as in the corner of a room, just under a sofa or coffee table, or even partially under a dog cushion. You’ll soon see him sniffing for them instead of searching for them. Vary location and quantity.
Food is not the only thing dogs are interested in smelling. Unique scents like essential oils can motivate dogs and excite their crawling instincts. To get started, get a favorite toy (a ball works well) and add a few drops of essential oil. You can play a quick indoor search game, followed by a reward. Do it several times in one day. Then hide the ball and let your furry friend find it. Go ahead and praise the dog when the scent follows. When you find the ball, reward him! Once mastered in the house, move it to the patio. After that, you can change the scent and the toy and start again. You can do anything your dog likes the smell of chicken fat, peanut butter, or cream cheese.
Here is a simple way to speed up your dog’s sense of smell. Get some tasty little treats like some turkey meat or cheese as they have a strong aroma. Take it in the palm of your hand and make a loose fist with the palm facing down. Then offer your dog that fist and let him smell. Tell him to find the gift. Once you have sniffed the right hand, offer the prize. Repeat this a few times. Then do this by alternating the hand in which you place the treat. As you continue, wait until you can see your really alert nose in the gift hand before opening. The idea is to teach you that the location of the treatment varies and can only be found by smelling it.
Domestic dogs know that they will find a meal in the same place every day. But what if, when you called him out for dinner and you put his bowl in a different place one day? Your dog will instantly start looking for it sniffing enthusiastically and will find its bowl in seconds. The next day, hide the bowl somewhere in your house and call him for dinner. It will take you a little longer to find it, but you will find it. Once you have established this game, move your bowl once or twice a week and have it chase after you.
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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