Did you know – 15 minutes of nosework is as good as an hours walk for your dog?
Here’s my step by step guide to indoor nosework training with your dog. Do let me know how you get on!
Before you begin
Set your dog up for success by finding a calm, quiet place to begin training. Maybe the lounge, without other people or the tv on. Try to pick a time that is not directly before or after a meal. Use super tasty, really smelly treats that your dog doesn’t get at other times. We have small training packs of ByBenji treats that are ideal for this.
Teaching the “Find it!” cue
First we need to teach your dog a ‘Find it’ cue. This is easy. Just drop a treat on the floor near your dog so they can see it and say “Find it”. Repeat this 20 times. Do not point to the treat otherwise your dog will be looking for a visual cue instead of a verbal one.
Wait for it
Next, ask your dog to “sit” and “Wait” ( or “Stay” if that’s your stronger command). Take a couple of steps backwards away from your dog and show them the treat in your hand. Place the treat on the ground in front of you. Return to your dog, face the treat, and give them the release cue “Find it!” that you have just taught. Encourage your dog, if necessary, to run over and eat the treat. Repeat this at least 10 times so that your dog learns to sit and wait til you return, then go and get their reward.
Taking it up a notch
Now move around the room and let your dog watch as you hide one treat at a time in an ‘easy’ place. Places such as behind the leg of the sofa, on the edge of the coffee table, under a cushion etc., on a low bookshelf. Remember not to put it on any furniture or places you don’t want you dog to sniff and hunt about later! So if you have a ‘no dogs on the sofa rule’, don’t hide treats on the sofa. Remember to return to their side each time after hiding a treat and give the release cue “Find it”.
Learning the “Sniff” cue
After 10 successful finds, take it up a another level of difficulty. Rub the treat on a piece of kitchen roll, go and hide it in an easy place. Return to your dog’s side and offer the kitchen roll to your dog saying ‘sniff’. Let them sniff ( not eat it). Then give them the “Find it!” cue to go and get the treat. This is why I suggest ByBenji treats for their super strong and irresistible smell!
Extend the search
After 10 repetitions you can extend the search. Let your dog watch as you hide two treats in two different (easy) places in the room. Return to their side each time after hiding the treats and offer the kitchen roll with the “Sniff” command before giving the release cue “Find it”. Encourage your dog to keep searching if they look like they’ve forgotten where you hid it. Chances are they won’t!
Make it harder
After 10 successful searches you can add a little more difficulty. Still let your dog watch you as you hide three treats in harder places; on elevated surfaces, under things, and behind things. Continue to ask them to “Sniff” the scented kitchen towel before sending them to “Find it.” Encourage them to keep searching until all the treats are found. Repeat this exercise 10 times too.
Has your dog got the hang of it now?
Well we can step it up and have some real fun. Put your dog in another room while you hide several treats. Then bring them back in the room, let them sniff the kitchen towel. Now give them the “Find it” cue. No helping this time, watch them work hard with their nose to find those treats! If your dog is struggling to find the treats in your hiding places take your dog out of the room for a minute. Take the training back a step and collect up the treats. Put them in easier places and bring your dog back into the room, sniff the towel and try again.
Remember we always want to set your dog up for success.
For extra indoor fun I’ve created a range of RebelPaws Nosework Activity Mats. These mats have different puzzle challenges on one mat, including a snufflemat area. You can choose from 4 puzzles or 6 puzzles and a range of fabulous colour combinations. Take a peek at my RebelPaws Nosework Activity Mats here:
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