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Sniffing is a dog's superpower!

Dogs can smell 100,000x better than we can. They can detect half a spoon of sugar in an Olympic-sized swimming pool! Sounds impressive right?

Dogs have been helping us for decades by using their nose. From search and rescue, bomb and drug detection, through to medical detection. This is one reason why dogs are known universally as "mans best friend".

All breeds, no matter how big or small, active or idle, have one thing in common... A powerful nose, and they ALL LOVE to SNIFF. Yes even your dog!!

Sniffing is the one thing we don't need to train our dogs to do. Puppies are born blind, deaf and toothless. For the first few days of their life the only sensory tool they have is their nose, and smell is the one thing elderly dogs can do when they get to an age where they are struggling to walk, see and hear.

Sniffing has been scientifically proven to reduce a dogs pulse and calm a stressed dog down. DogFieldStudy. Whether you have a hyperactive dog, a shy/nervous dog or a reactive dog sniffing can help calm them down. It helps to build their confidence, increase focus and reduce anxiety. When a dogs nose is engaged in scent work, they are able to use their natural abilities to problem-solve and work through challenges.

Yet sniffing is often the main reason why dog owners call me up. "Help! my dog sniffs too much on walks", "My dog keeps stopping every two minutes to sniff a lamp-post or a tree", "When my dog is off lead they get onto a scent trail and I can't call them back". We can't deprive our dogs of their most powerful sense but we can learn to understand the reasons why they use their noses so much. And we can provide an outlet for them to use their noses in a more controlled manner, by giving them fun activities to do.

Bringing scentwork into your dogs daily life

"So what's the point in doing scent work with my dog? I'm not planning on using her as a drug detection dog!" For our dogs, scentwork is entertainment, its educational, its a big boost of self-esteem and its a job that they love to do. All those things are just as important to our dogs, as they are to us, to make them feel mentally happy.

Sniff walks

At least once a week, take your dog out for a long sniff walk. These walks are different from your normal "round the block in 20 minutes" or run. Its a slow walk where your dog wears a long 10 meter lead and you go along a path where dogs frequently walk, so there is a lot of "pee mail" for your dog to smell.

This is a nice thing to do at the end of a long day of work. I like to listen to a podcast (a dog one of course) and just take a slow stroll in the open country air while the dogs stop frequently to sniff.

Scatter feeding

If you are feeding your dog out of a bowl. Try scatter feeding instead. You could either throw the bowl of food out into your garden or use a snuffle matt. If you choose to throw the food out in the garden, make sure you scatter it all over the garden and not just in one small area. Your dog will spend a good amount of time sniffing out their food and then feel nice and relaxed afterwards.

Scentwork at home

Keep a few of your amazon boxes. Place three - four medium size boxes on the floor and scatter some food on the floor amongst the boxes. Give your dog a release cue and let them use their nose to sniff out all the treats. Gradually decrease the amount of food on the floor to get your dog searching for longer for less food.

Scentwork classes in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

I run fun scentwork classes in Cambridge. We will work on teaching your dog to harness their sniffing superpower to identify and locate a specific target odour. We will then teach your dog a passive indication to let you know that they have found the target odour. The introduction and novice classes will take place indoors, and then we'll move on to more novel environments like around parked cars, trees, and in farm yards. For details on my next class please click here.

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