No matter what size or shape, dogs everywhere love to catch a scent. Nose Work, a relatively new sport on the scene, provides a positive outlet for a dog’s natural ability.
The goal is for the dog to locate a hidden target scent, then alert his handler to its exact location. Boasting 225 million olfactory cells compared to our measly five million, canine noses out-sniff ours by miles, so it’s not surprising dogs love and excel at this sport.
With a little practice, anyone can do Nose Work in any setting. It’s a great way to build your dog’s confidence, provide mental and physical exercise, and strengthen the bond between you.
How to do it
You’ll need a collection of small cardboard boxes and a handful of healthy treats, such as pieces of dehydrated meat or raw carrot.
- Put a treat in an open box where your dog can get at it. Leave the lid open.
- When he finds the treat, reward him with a couple more treats.
- Slowly add more open boxes and more treats.
- Leave some of the boxes that formerly had treats empty so he knows to find actual treats and not just old smells.
- Now the fun begins. Put a lid on the boxes, fold the flaps shut, turn a box upside down, put a box inside another box, and/or reduce the number of boxes containing treats. This way, your dog will have to use his nose to find the treats, and not simply rely on sight. This is the basis of Nose Work.
The next level
If you want to go further with Nose Work, and perhaps even compete in events, consider enrolling your dog in a National Association of Canine Scent Work class.
Nose Work is not just for fun or titles. It also forms the basis for bomb, drug, arson or search and rescue training. And it all starts with a treat in a box!