14/07/2021 - Scent training advice
Fantastic news! Zoe has become one of the very first Uk qualified City and Guilds scent dog handlers and scent dog instructors. Which means that you can unleash your dog’s hidden talent for scent detection by bringing him or her along to train at dog could Best Behaviour Dog Training
Who is scent training for?
What IS scent dog training?
Scent dog training is the doggy equivalent of giving your human loved one something they really enjoy - even if it’s not something you think you are not interested in yourself, you soon will be when you see what your dog can do.
In scent dog training, we celebrate the pleasure a dog gets from sniffing and help them to develop that talent. It can, if you want to, be turned into a career or a competitive sport for your dog. Or it can be done just for fun.
The difference between smelling and sniffing
There’s a big difference between smelling and sniffing. Humans and dogs smell things all of the time, whether we want to or not.
Imagine yourself walking down the high street - you might get a whiff of fresh brewed coffee, baking bread, someone’s aftershave, something nasty on the pavement ….that’s smelling. You don’t get a choice in it.
Sniffing on the other hand, is catching an interesting scent on the breeze and taking the time to investigate further and maybe even act on it. For example, you or I might follow a delicious aroma all the way to the chip shop and decide to treat ourselves to a filling tea instead of the salad that we’d planned.
Scent training teaches a dog to focus on finding a particular pong - and to take action. They might let you know when and where the source of the smell is. (Think police sniffer dogs). Or they might let you know something is about to happen (eg those amazing assistance dogs who alert their epileptic humans of an impending siezure). You never know - you might be able to teach your pooch to find out where you left the car keys!
Why train your dog to sniff things out?
A dog’s nose is up to 100,000 times more sensitive than ours. And the olfactory cortex - the part that processes scent - in their brain is proportionately 40 times larger than in humans. We can only imagine how different their perception of the world is to us.
For them, smelling is the equivalent of watching the world go by. Sniffing, on the other hand is like us reading a newspaper or doing an in-depth investigation into something. When humans discover and learn through watching, reading or listening, it usually makes us feel contented and confident. Ditto for dogs. Sniffing exercises their brain and releases happy chemicals.
Scent training makes your dog happier and therefore easier to live with. It builds really strong bonds between pets and their owners and genuinely improves the dog’s quality of life. And as pet parents, surely we all have a moral responsibility to give our dogs the best possible life.
Try it yourself
Here are a couple of things you can do at home to test your dog’s ability to sniff things out.
Simple but effective. Instead of feeding your dog from a bowl, spread their dinner out across the floor (or the lawn). He or she will spend ages sniffing out every last piece. Of course this assumes that your dog has dried food. For raw or wet food, you might want to leave their dinner in their bowl and try this exercise with a handful of treats instead.
Hunt the chicken
Place several upturned flower pots on the ground and hide a piece of cooked chicken (or your dog’s favourite treat) underneath some, but not all of the pots. Watch how intently your pet sniffs each pot to search out the yummy stuff.
When you come to scent training classes, you will learn how to focus your pet’s attention on searching for non-edible treats, how to teach them to “tell” you they’ve found something and how to develop their skills into activities like tracking.