Nose Work Games

The following information has been adapted from material on the Center for Shelter Dogs website.

Nose Work Games:

  • Are a great form of enrichment for dogs that are not motivated to play retrieve, tug, or chase games
  • Are an excellent form of physical, mental and olfactory stimulation for all dogs
  • Allow dogs to expend energy
Find It Game

The following information has been adapted from material on the Center for Shelter Dogs website. Find It games can be done with very little interaction with the dog. This makes them very compatible for quality enrichment within the dog’s enclosure. Examples of this include, but are not limited to, a stuffed KONG® or a muffin pan with a treat under a tennis ball in each cup. To make these games even more interactive for those dogs that enjoy them, take the dog to a separate room, hide the food, and then help him search it out.

Here are some easy examples:

  • Seek and Destroy: hide the food in an empty box
  • Treasure Hunt: make a trail of treats for the dog to follow
  • Shell Game: hide treats under paper cups or small bowls

Find a printable version of Find It Game

Materials:

  • Food dispensing toy (KONG®) or a small cardboard box containing a tasty and easily accessible treat
  • Muffin pan with a treat under a tennis ball in each cup

What to Do:

  1. Tether the dog to a sturdy object, or ask to sit and stay.
  2. Show the dog the toy/box/muffin tin. Allow the dog to sniff it.
  3. Place the object containing treat on the ground approximately 5 feet from the dog.
  4. Go back to the dog and say ‘Find it!’
  5. When the dog gets to the object, praise, and allow the dog to eat the treat.
  6. Repeat 5 times, gradually moving the object further from the dog, always keeping it within the dog’s sight.
  7. On the sixth time, do NOT put a treat in the object. Tell the dog to ‘find it’ and when the dog arrives at the object, praise and give a treat from your hand.
  8. Repeat 4 times.
    stop sign iconNote: If the dog’s motivation decreases once a treat is no longer present, place a treat in the object 50% of the time.
  9. End the session.
  10. Repeat items #1-9 for the second session.
  11. In the third session, repeat items 1-9, but start hiding the toy in a fairly easy to find location.
  12. In the fourth and subsequent sessions, the toy should never have a treat in it. The reward will always come from you.
  13. During this and subsequent sessions, (ideally) there should be a small partition or barrier between you and the dog so that the dog is blocked from seeing where you hide it, and must use its sense of smell to find the toy.
  14. As the dog gets better and better at the game, hide the toy in more difficult to find locations and play the game in different locations (e.g. a larger room, a play yard, etc).

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