How to Teach Your Dog Scent Detection

Did you know that the dogs’ sense of smell is around 50 times stronger than the humans? And the Bloodhound, which has the most scent receptors than other dogs, can even find 300 hours old tracks.

A dog’s sense of smell is undoubtedly one of its most potent weapons along with sight and hearing. Of course, you would want to make the best use of them, especially, the sense of smell. But whether you adopt an adult dog from a shelter or get a puppy from a breeder, training is mandatory.

And yes, scent detection is inherently a characteristic of dogs, still, you need to nurture it. For that, a bit of practice can turn things around for your furry little friend.

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If trained properly, a dog proves to be a valuable ally. Not only can they help you look for lost things and treasure but also bodies. All dogs are born with sensitive nose receptors that come in useful. But, only if adequately taught how to utilize them. That is why law enforcement agencies commonly use dogs for this purpose. That being said, you can also train your dog to learn this beneficial skill.

The question is, how? How do you train your dog to detect scents? First things first, you will need commitment and a lot of patience. You can’t expect your little friend to grasp the concept in a day. It will take time, and you will have to keep at it with full zeal and encouragement.

Read: Basset Hound Dog Breed Info

How to proceed with the scent detection training

Dogs practically see or we can say sense the world in smell. Of course, that isn’t the case with humans. Perhaps this is why we fail to realize the role of sense of smell in our dogs’ lives more often than not. We aren’t aware that there are other means to interact with our furry friends and stimulate them.

For dogs, the scent is as imperative as sight and sound. They use this sense to find out more about their environment. In fact, they sniff each other as a handshake because by sniffing them, they come to know about other dogs’ environments too. Interestingly, incorporating this into games and training can open a new world of experience with our dogs. Indeed, you are in for an incredible journey.

So without further ado, let’s dig right into it and find out how you can train your dog the skill of scent detection.

Let your dog come to you

This is perhaps the most basic way to get your dog to use its scent detection skills. Hide somewhere in the house while someone distracts your dog for a while. Initially, ensure that you aren’t too far, and your pup doesn’t have to toil hard to find you. You can make it easier for your little friend by leaving a trail of treats.

Let your dog try to find you using his nose, by sniffing the trail. Once he succeeds, make sure to give him a treat as a reward so he doesn’t get bored with the activity and take interest in it. Continue this game and gradually reduce the treats and then try it without a set of goodies revealing your hideout. You can try out different techniques for this little exercise.

For instance, hide your dog’s favorite toy somewhere but make sure your dog is not around. The hiding place shouldn’t be too hard to reach for the pet. Now, let your dog free and encourage it to find the toy using the scent trail.

Initially, there is a high chance that the dog will use more than scent detection to find the toy. But you have to keep changing the hiding spot, each time making it harder for the dog to find it. Eventually, your dog will start following the scent to get what it wants, and your training will be a success!

Related: Why do Dogs Sniff other Dogs’ Butts?

Use the treats

What’s the most obvious and successful way to train a dog? Well, treats are the perfect option. Here’s what you have to do. Hide the treats around the room wherein the dog has to hunt them out via scent. After some time, start hiding in prominent places and then get creative.

Another option is to leave a trail of treats that will lead your pet to its favorite toy. In this case, you can hide the toy in a challenging place. This activity can also be done in the garden, wherein you can scatter kibbles in the grass, and your dog can sniff them out.

As your pet’s safety should be your priority, ensure that your dog doesn’t remain unsupervised as it moves around, looking for its target. At the same time, try to encourage your little friend to get the job done.

You can use many common items lying around in the house to train scent detection to your dog—some breeds like ripping cardboard tubes and playing with wrapping paper to get the treat. The idea is to make the whole thing fun for your fur baby. The best practice is to use things and activities that your dog likes and enjoys, and he would learn a new skill without even toiling hard.

With time, the dog wouldn’t even need command. You can hide stuff in the acres of grass or paper, and he would sniff it out as if it’s second nature to it.

Simple dog games can turn things around for your dog’s scent detection skills. Before you know it, your dog will have mastered the art, and the next time you are looking for something, your dog can lead you right to it.

Note: It is advisable to refrain from hiding the stuff on sofas or chairs if you don’t want your dog playing around your furniture.

Final words 

Training your dog in the skill of scent detection can be quite useful. It can be an excellent way to bond with your pet and interact with them uniquely. So next time you go outdoors, try to tap into your dog’s sniffing potential.

It might seem a lot of work in the beginning. You might even feel that it’s not proving to be much effective. But you have to give it some time. The dog will eventually be trained to find what it’s looking for via scent, and you wouldn’t even have to lift a finger for it. 

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