This is a great game for teaching the dog to use his nose instead of his eyes and to home in on the source/concentration of the scent rather than the general aroma.
It is a great game for children to play – keeping both children and dog entertained for a while.
- Put a treat in one hand (letting the dog see you do it)
- Hold out both hands – let the dog sniff both hands and then when he snuffles at the correct hand, open that hand and let him have the treat
- If the dog chooses the wrong hand give him chance to think about it, but if he is convinced open your hand and show him that it is empty, then close it and let him try again
- Repeat – but this time as you hold out your hands add the cue ‘Which Hand?’ As soon as he works it out, open the hand and reward him with the treat. Make a great fuss of him too – it is all part of engaging with him in the game
Remember to keep it motivational and enthusiastic so both you and the dog enjoy the experience. You should also only play the game for small amounts of time, as once both hands have a scent from the treats it can start to become confusing for the dog. Once the game is over don’t forget to always wash your hands.
The cup shuffle game
This is similar to the ‘which hand’ game.
- Take 3 containers – you can use plastic cups, plant pots or something similar
- Place them on the floor and put a treat under one of them
- Move them around to confuse the dog as to where the treat went
- Encourage the dog to find the container with the treat
- As soon as he shows an interest in one of the pots, reveal underneath – if he is right he can get the reward, if he is wrong simply put it back down and encourage him to keep trying. Try not to influence his choices
Once the dog has the basic idea of finding a treat you can use all sorts of hiding places to enrich your dog's life by allowing them to use their nose, paws, mouth and more to get a treat from its hiding place. If the dog has a favourite toy you can use that instead of or as well as a treat.
- Hide the treats around the room and let the dog hunt for them. To start, let them see what you are doing, but once they get the game, put them in another room while you hide the goodies. Make sure you keep it fun and upbeat and help them out if they struggle in the early days
- Dogs will enjoy ripping into a newspaper parcel to find a chew inside
- Hide a treat in a cardboard box and fill it with newspaper
- Hide a treat or favourite toy within a box of children’s’ ball pool balls. Why not go large? The bigger the box of balls the more fun your dog will have. If you have space, why not fill a child’s paddle pool or a sandpit full of balls? You or the children could even get in there with them and join in the fun
- treasure hunt,
- obstacle course,
- muffin tin scent, or
These balls are not meant for dogs to chew, so do not leave him unattended or you might be off to the vets to remove a chewed-up ball from their gut.
Never leave dogs and children alone together.
Please note: there are many different ways to train your dog. This is just one method of teaching. If you are ever in doubt, please seek professional advice.
For more information and advice, you can find training classes with The Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Training scheme, browse our full list of The Kennel Club Accredited Instructors or find a dog training club near you.