5 Brain Games for the Nosey Dog

We’ve all been there, we’re out on a walk and trying to encourage the nose-driven pooch from the scent trail they’ve found.  Whilst allowing dogs to sniff is super important for their health, if we’ve already been out 20 minutes longer than planned and cutting it very close to being late for work, we can often wonder if we can use this skill in other ways.  Well you can.  If you’re stuck in on a rainy or hot day, or simply want to enrich your dog’s life, you can use their incredible nose for some very specific brain games!

Read on to learn more about our top five games for nose-driven pooches!

1) Burrito Time!

A super-easy one to set up.  Grab a towel or a blanket from your closet and grab some treats or freeze/air dried food.

Fold the blanket or towel into a fan.  So, fold 3-6” of towel back onto itself and continue until you have done it with the whole towel or blanket.  Stuff treats or food into the folds.  Introduce your dog to the towel or blanket and encourage them to sniff out the treats or food.  The idea isn’t to simply drag the towel/blanket, emptying it as you go, but to sniff and nuzzle to get each individual piece of food.

2) Treasure Hunt!

With your dog in the same room initially, hide treats or food around your lounge or kitchen.  Make them easy to access, so on top of a box or table, or just under a chair.  As your dog is seeking them out, label it “hunt” or “seek.”  As they understand the purpose of the task, you can make it harder, by placing treats or food in harder to reach places so they need to use their nose; maybe behind a cushion or down the side of a chair etc.  Increase the difficulty as they progress.

3) Pot Luck!

Start with two plastic cups or plant pots.  Hide a treat or piece of food under one of the cups.  Encourage your dog to seek out where the food is.  They will use their nose to track it.  As they get the hang of it you can increase the number of cups or pots and also place the food under more than one cup/pot.  You can also leave your dog in another room, set the cups up then let your dog in; here they will only be using their nose as they couldn’t watch where you placed the food.

4) Which Hand?

This is a great game if you have kids in the home.  You can all get involved.  Start with one person having a treat in one closed hand.  Your dog will likely seek it out.  As soon as they do, reward them with the treat.  Then introduce another person, but again only have one treat in one closed hand.  You can slowly add more and more people so there is a wall of hands for your dog to seek who is holding the treat.

5) Where’s Your toy?

It’s easy to think that those nose-driven pooches will only seek out food, but they will actually seek out their own toys too.  Teach your dog the name of their toy by throwing it for them, then as they retrieve it, label the toy.  Once they know the name of their toy, you can hide it around the home and ask them to seek it.  Place it in easy to reach places initially before working up to harder locations, and don’t let any other dogs play with that particular toy to contaminate it with other scents.

As much as you may curse your sniffing dog when you’re running late on a walk, it can be a blessing in disguise when you are looking for new and creative ways to keep them stimulated or enriched.  Be patient and set them up to succeed.  Progress at their pace but above all, have fun!

Let us know if you try any of them – and tag us in your attempts on social media!

Thanks for reading,

MPN Team

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