Searchy dogs are happy dogs! Sniffing and searching makes a dog feel good, so give your puppy or dog as many opportunities to engage in these natural behaviours as you can!
Playing sniffing games with your puppy or dog is super easy, quick, cheap and easy to do anywhere! From pugs to pointer, pups to oldies...ALL dogs can participate.
They are a great way to calm your dog, give them something positive to do, a great game to play in a distracting environment and something lovely to do in the evening when you want to settle your pup or dog towards bedtime.
Start off teaching it in a quiet part of the house at first, and make sure the "search area" is free from any hazards.,
All you need to do is:
- Hold your dog gently
- Say 'Find it' (this is going to be your search cue)
- Toss a piece of food on the floor where your dog can see it (about 50cm away) and indicate towards the food with an outstretched flat hand
- Release your dog to go and get the food
- Praise your dog for finding it and celebrate how pawsome they are!
- Repeat several times with the food landing in different places where your dog can see it.
- Now repeat with your dog being unable to see the food land when you toss it, give your "Find it" cue and indicate where to search with your outstretched hand.
- Repeat several times (make it easier if your dog is struggling at any point).
Now you have a whole new "find it" game that all dogs can benefit from. Use some of their daily allowance or "treats", you can also play the game with a toy too!
Don't make the dog game too hard at first as we don't want to build frustration, instead we want to build confidence in finding things. This is a great activity for children to do, and it is a lovely indoor rainy day activity, though also fab to do outside in the garden and when on your walks.
Once you've got your find it cue and your dog is really into the game you can start to introduce additional things into your searches:
- Use bags, cardboard boxes, towels, toilet roll tubes, bottles, scrunched up paper and other safe things you have at home to make the searches even more interesting and build their confidence. Pile them above up as your dog gets really good at searches so they have to have a good old root about.
- Put the search item (food or toy) safely and accessibly at a slight height to get your dog used to varying the height of their search.
- Put search items underneath chairs and tables to vary the search and build your dog's confidence going underneath things as part of their search.
- Take the game outside and on the walk too!