Our dogs learn a lot about the world through the power of their magnificent noses. Your dog’s nose is amazing, and scentwork training classes are a fun way to really put them to work, resulting in a mentally stimulated, content pup!
Your dog’s nostrils actually work separately for maximum nosework impact, taking smells in for analysing on one side and breathing through the other. And those little wet noses even hold on to a bit of scent for processing too.
In this blog, we will explore how your dog’s nose works, why scentwork is good for dogs, and how to get started.
So, let’s talk nosework!
Learn about the power of your dog’s nose
The part of your dog’s brain dedicated to smell is 40 times bigger than a human’s. Olfactory exploration is essentially how your dog learns about their environment and the world around them, and it’s happening almost all the time.
When your dog inhales, around 12% of that scent-loaded air is directed to their olfactory system, where it’s processed and analysed. Your dog is a very clever little hound, isn’t he?!
The slits in the side of your dog’s nose are where the air they exhale escapes, and this manner of exhaling actually encourages the influx of new air and scents into their system.
Your dog can even wiggle his nostrils independently. What a party trick!
Detection dogs are trained to use their noses to benefit humans by tracking humans, finding illegal substances, even sniffing out ailments and diseases in humans.
When you think about all the smells a dog is taking in at any given time, the fact that they can be trained to focus on one scent is really incredible.
Why is scentwork good for dogs?
The benefits of scentwork training are remarkable. The mental stimulation and focus your dog enjoys in class are brilliant for your dog’s state of mind. Scentwork can increase your dog’s confidence, too, as learning to engage their nose can help them cope in various environments.
Scentwork classes are an excellent way to increase the bond with your dog, you work as a team, and the process is incredibly rewarding. Watching your dog’s eyes light up as they engage in one of their favourite activities is a lovely way to spend time together.
All breeds of dogs can enjoy Scentwork, and the way it benefits your dog may differ between breeds. For some, it is a great way to burn off energy. For others, a lovely way to connect with their human, there really are so many wonderful benefits of taking a scentwork class with your dog.
It’s also a low-impact activity, so it’s appropriate for dogs of any age and fitness level.
How can I start scentwork with my dog?
We offer a 90-minute introductory session if you’d like to give scentwork training classes a go before committing to a six-week course.
Our scentwork classes are divided into levels, so you can start at level 1 and proceed through the levels as you learn.
Your dog will begin by learning what a scent is, progress onto learning a find it cue and move on to search out a scent in a variety of environments and distances. Your dog will learn incredible control, focus, and reliability.
Nose work for dogs at home
If you join our scentwork classes, you will be given a scentwork starter kit so that you can continue your scentwork fun at home with your dog. You’ll also be given tasks to try out and practice with your dog, helping your dog to nail those nosework skills!
There are many simple nosework games you can try at home with your dog, even if you’re not taking scentwork classes.
Here are three fun and easy scentwork games you can play at home:
- Find it. This can be taught using toys or food rewards. Make it easy to start with and slowly progress at your dog’s pace. Put your dog in a sit and stay, or behind a barrier like a gate if they’re unable to do this. Place the toy or treat within sight and say your cue ‘find it’ and release your dog to retrieve his treasure! Once your dog gets the game, you can put the items in trickier places, so your dog has to sniff them out.
- Scatter Feeding. A variation of find it, but scattering your dog’s food or small treats is a brilliant and super-easy way to get your dog’s nose working. If you have a lawn, then scatter in the grass once your dog understands the concept and slowly increase to a wider search area. You can even do this one on your dog walks, just find a spot away from other dogs.
- Cardboard box Hunt. Take a cardboard box, scrunch up some paper and scatter small morsels of treats inside for your dog to sniff out. To progress this one, you can put some of the treats wrapped up inside the paper to make the game a little more challenging.
Sit back and watch! It’s such a lovely sight to see your dogs nose going to work and watching their bodies navigate the search. The light in their eyes and the joy of their success is really lovely to watch.
Sign up for scentwork training classes
So, what is so special about our scentwork training classes? The opportunity to harness the power of your dog’s nose while working together as a team is extraordinary. To see your dog thoroughly enjoying himself while you tackle a task together, building immense trust between you is a fantastic feeling. To discover and see your dog’s amazing abilities in action is inspiring. I think that’s all pretty special!
If you’re ready to enjoy some quality time with your dog doing an activity they’ll absolutely adore, then you can book in for your scentwork training class or introduction session here.
I can’t wait to see you both!