Who knew that my dog is a genius with his nose? Courteous Canine, Inc. of Tampa helped me bring out the nose-genius in my dog! Thank you for a fun class and releasing the inner genius in my dog!
While the first level of our group classes and private instruction focus on having your dog find food– your dog is capable of much more than that. Wikipedia says, “The olfactory bulb in dogs is roughly forty times bigger than the olfactory bulb in humans, relative to total brain size, with 125 to 220 million smell‐sensitive receptors.” Humans have trained dogs to use their nose to alert for or indicate bombs, cancer, low or high blood sugar, seizures, panic attacks and peanuts for people with food allergies. According to Paula Nunnery of Sugar Dogs International it is likely that many pet dogs do indicate for low or high blood sugar but that most pet parents ignore the alerts. Frustrated the dog will eventually stop alerting. This type of untrained alert is called a spontaneous alert, when your dog suddenly responds to a difference in your body scent common behaviors that accompany the spontaneous alert are foot stomping, pawing or whining. These behaviors can even be punished which could permanently extinguish the spontaneous alert.
So next time you are walking your dog and he takes a full five minutes to read his pee‐mail, wait patiently because his nose just may save your life, hero canine’s all over the world have alerted their loving pet parents to a variety of medical conditions. Always take it seriously if your dog seems to be alerting you to something. It never hurts to investigate.
Fun Food Scent Games
At Courteous Canine, Inc. the Fun Scent Games class focuses on your dog finding her food. This may seem like an easy task but most pet dogs consider their nose more of an ornament than a tool. Granted they enjoy sniffing but they are not educated in how to use their sniffer until we teach them. This is because domestication has made it largely unnecessary for dogs to hunt.
Before you start class and after you start class you can play some prep games at home. Have your dog sit and stay and then place his dog food bowl behind a wall or in a simple location in another room. Gradually build up to harder hiding places. Always build on success if your dog fails go for something easier. It will take time for your dog to start to use her nose.
Another possibility is for you to sprinkle kibble in a room, this is only a good idea if you are going to let only one dog into the search for food room. Another alternative of this game is for you to hide little stashes of food in a variety of places, again gradually increase difficulty.
Find Food in the Boxes Game
In our group classes your dog will learn to find food hidden in boxes. First we start out easy with a box right in front of your dog, but soon we will change the location of the boxes and add more boxes. This encourages your dog to use her nose rather than to search visually.
As you learn about your dog’s searching abilities you will begin to recognize when your dog is actively searching and using her nose or when she is just fooling around. You can’t force a dog to search and often if your dog needs something, like water, it is important to meet her need rather than pressuring her to continue.
The Finished Product
This section is going to describe the final steps of what you will be training in your Fun Scent Games class. Before you ask your dog to search you want to make sure that your dog is focused on you and ready to concentrate.
Above you see Power focused on Angelica waiting for his search cue. Once Angelica gives Power his search cue Power takes over and Angelica will not offer any cues, prompts or help. Fun Scent Games are all about the dog and manners and training behaviors are not part of the search session.
Angelica has given Power his “Find” cue and he is actively searching the boxes.
As part of searching dogs will sometimes stick their head in the boxes and other times just smell the air around the box.
Power has made a find, he is indicating this, by laying down. This is the cue for Angelica to come and check out the box to see if he was accurate. If he was accurate Angelica will reinforce him. In scent training it is extremely important to reinforce at the source of the scent.
Here you can see me reinforce Power in the bo xthat contained the scent he was alerting on.
The most enjoyable aspect of Fun Scent Games is to watch the dog’s work. Simply being able to observe a dog doing something that is enjoyable and self‐reinforcing is pure joy. Come join the fun and learn about this new sport with our 6‐Week Intro to Fun Scent Games group class which is limited to a maximum of six dogs and instructed by one of our premier highly experienced instructors.
Sign up today!
Click here for private instruction: Info@CourteousCanine.com
Or find a group dog nosework class at a convenient location here