3 easy search games for your dog you can try at home

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Allowing your dog to use their nose can be both mentally and physically beneficial. 

Below are 3 easy search games for your dog that you can try at home.

If you want to learn more about how scent work can be great for your dog check out this blog post → 5 reasons why scent work is beneficial for your dog

1. Find your toy

This is a great game to entertain your dog and get them to use their searching skills without needing to leave your living room!

There are a few stages to this game. Make sure your dog has a good level of understanding at each level before moving on so that they always succeed.

Stage 1

Play with your dog and their favourite toy. This will look different depending on the toy and your dog’s playing preferences - that’s ok! The most important thing is that your dog is building desire for their toy so that they’ll want to find it in the later stages.

Stage 2

While playing with your dog, throw the toy a little way away. When your dog goes to the toy, tell them they are amazing! If they bring the toy back to you that would be super, however not a requirement if they aren’t a fan of retrieving.

Stage 3

Next you’re going to hide your dog’s toy while your dog is watching you. Your dog should see where you have gone to hide their toy, but the toy itself will be out of sight. This gives your dog a clue about where to search. 

When they find their toy, have a party using whatever reward your dog enjoys. It could be playing with the toy together, or food based. 

Stage 4

Now you can hide your dog’s toy while they are in another room! They won’t have any idea where the toy is so they’ll have to use their nose to find it!

Once at this stage you can gradually make the toy harder to find, although put some simple searches in there too every now and then to give your dog an easy win.

2. Scatter feeding

This is such a simple game to play with your dog and it’s a great calming activity too. 

Simply scatter some of your dog’s food or treats onto the floor. Then let your dog snuffle them up - it’s as easy as that! 

The surface that you scatter the food on will affect the difficulty for your dog. A short pile carpet will be fairly simple, short grass a little harder and long grass the most challenging. 

This game is a particular favourite of mine during the summer when it’s too hot to go for a walk. I pick a shaded area of lawn and scatter the food there for my dogs to find. 

3. Line up of boxes

As a UK Sniffer Dog Instructor I love to see dogs building their search skills. This game is one that’s great for teaching a dog to check each object in a line up search. 

All you need are a few containers, like plastic tubs or cardboard boxes, and place them in a line on the floor.

Next, put a treat in each container and let your dog go up the line to find all the treats!

As your dog starts to build their confidence in checking each container, you can start to reduce the amount of treats you put out so sometimes there is a container without a treat in. 

Gradually work up to there only being treats in one of the containers so your dog has to work harder to find them. 

If at any point your dog loses interest in searching, go back to putting treats in each container to give them a boost.
If you’d like to learn more about scent work, why not join one of our UK Sniffer Dogs workshops or courses? You can find out more information by clicking on the link below.
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