I’ve spent 2 weekends in the last few months learning more about how to train dogs to ‘use their nose’. I have really only started looking at this skill over the last few years and am now so excited to share this knowledge with my dogs and my clients.
Why is this a focus? Surely all dogs know how to sniff? They do it all the time! This is exactly why I want to learn more – harnessing a dog’s natural ability and work together to have some brilliant fun.
Scentwork can be a dog sport that you compete in, however I’m not referring to that level of expertise. I think it’s an essential skill for all pet dog owners to learn for the benefit of their dogs. Nose work is great for lowering arousal levels which means it’s also brilliant if your dog struggles to cope in certain environments or around other dogs and people. Those dogs termed ‘reactive’ dogs really thrive on this type of training.
Another positive is that it tires your dog out – so if you have a dog that seems to need loads of exercise and you never seem to tire them out, then this training skill is definitely for you.
A dog’s nose is so amazing they can smell up to 100,000 times better than a human! This means they can smell ½ a teaspoon of sugar in an Olympic-sized swimming pool – we struggle to tell if we have put sugar in our cups of tea! They also have a special scent-detecting organ called the vomeronasal organ that we humans don’t have, which detects pheromones and chemicals. Learning about scent plumes, and how dogs use their nose as their preferred sense, will really help you to understand their world.
Learning some simple games like: scatter feeding, find the toy, finding a certain scent, or tracking people, is such fun I want to encourage you all to give it a go this week. What are you waiting for? Get started in this fascinating world of scent.