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Scent, Search and Nose Work is Great For Dogs?

Great places for nose, search & scentwork

Remember walks and sniffy time, is time with your dog. Mix and match rest, scent work and  play. Its awesome for both of you. Choose the location wisely. Dogs don’t know we cant smell as well as they can. They may be smelling something that alarms them. Watch their body language.

Dogs first see the world through their noses. We need to ensure those are joyous smells as much as possible. Just imagine all the lovely scents they  pick out in a super raw diet too!

My dogs love scent work. Such a great activity for dogs off lead or on a trailing long line ( if their recall is poor).

Great outside spaces for great nosework for your dog

The center of a local park, fields or beach.  It’s lovely to watch them sniff about rabbit holes and mouse trails, scenting out berries and roots to nibble on. It’s sheer joy for all of us. Sit, watch the birds and clouds on a summer evening or the waves crash on the rocks on windy days.  Feel the breeze or bracing wind on your face.

Dogs love to sniff unsavoury scents(to us, not them!),  rabbit dropping, a sniff here and tthere,looking up periodically to check in. Down time is great for all.

On a walk ,my preference is to get from A to B (from home to lovely destination) with an on lead walk to the car then on lead walk the other end to a place where we can relax and enjoy the activities.  In more built up areas also walk from A to B. Zig Zag about make you the center of the walk.

If your dog is engaged with you they smell, see and feel you’re confidence. You don’t need them to gather info or write you the body language report of what’s up. In your mind, all is well. More about this below. Being mindful of your dogs personality and fears is all important when giving them opportunity to sniff.

Play find a toy

Drop a toy behind you as you walk. a few steps on call your dog and walk back asking them to find. When all fun happens near you, they will want to be with you. Use their noses to find toys. Throwing a toy is a reactive game, make the game thoughtful. Get them to use their noses. So much more fun and keeps brain and body safe and thinking.

Scent work with your dog at home

Scent work doesn’t have to be solely out and about either. Lots of things you can do in your garden or yard, hiding toys from them to find and return. . There are great food puzzles that your dog has to work out how to open to get to a treat. Great brain work and nose work.

Balance their lives with rest, play and scent time

There is always a balance to be had when it comes to entertainment and activity. 25% to 30% of their day is great to have you doing things such as play, sniffy time, walking, massaging, feeding and grooming them, but it is equally important that they have downtime, time to relax, whether that be sitting by you, away from you but in the same room and time alone

Dog and Owner Scent WorkDo not overload your dog’s senses with too much activity and scent work. Ensure scent work and downtime is positive in a great location.

Is scent work working for you and your dog?

There is so much to read and watch about scent work with our dogs in recent years. In my experience, some dogs are getting too much in places less ideal for that individual. By letting your dog grab all the finer details, when you  have no idea about the info they receive, you may set them up for a walk that is less than fun.

We know as humans that out and about is a communal territory

We are generally confident where ever we are. We’ve got years of experience stemming from childhood to be able to make educated decisions about all around us. As we grew up we had a responsible adult guiding us away from possible dangers. Holding our hands to keep us feeling safe and supported. We got used to whatever environment we grew up in. We are confident in familiar places.  If you find yourself in unfamiliar places, different smells, different cultures, some may become slightly nervous, some alarmed and others take it in their stride.

Scent work helps aggressive and territorial dogs

I often get called to see aggressive, territorial, nervous dogs. The second they walk out of the house, nose down with prolonged sniffing followed by marking. Owners finding themselves standing about for what seems hours waiting for their dogs to do what they do best.

Their dogs gather endless information from others urine, faeces, dropped fur and saliva left in their wake. The result is your dog completely logs of any focus towards you.

Eight suggestions to help your territorial or aggressive dog to enjoy time with you


 Paws for thought. Prevent enforcing dog problems

  • If you tense a lead when anything approaches you think may be an issue, you make it an issue. Walk away with your dog at 90 degrees and it’s no bother.
  • If you pull away and shout when they have their nose down on a scent, you’re making a big deal. They have no idea you can’t smell how they can.
  • Giving too much of any  brain or physical exercise has the effect of sending your dog into overdrive.
  • Letting a dog do his own thing too soon before you’ve got a connection results in an independent dog who never looks for support. They just plough in make their own decision, which may not be the right one.
  • Choose dog friends wisely. Next doors dog may not be the best influence for yours.

How to stop high drive, nose down, scent and movement obsessed dogs chasing.

The high drive chaser will be scenting the wildlife. Adrenaline rises to a point when they see the quarry run. Your dog is triggered into full flight in a second  and nothing you can do about it.

In order to have fun on both sides with scent work, you need initially to have a connection on lead and fabulous recall. You need to walk away with them from targets of their desire.

On lead, your dog spots a rabbit, he stops, you turn him, call him  run with your dog and play find a toy. You need to become the one thing that drives him. Move from on to a long line, practice recall and get him to chase you side to side. This keeps him engaged in fun focus to you. You have to be fun to become important to him.

Be your dogs drive and inspiration

If you let your dog roam as a youngster or let off the lead in areas where there are the stimulus that excite him more than you,  you’ll get stuck, they will find fun away from you. Its then a really hard habit to crack once the hunt and chase drive is instilled.

Important to remember, that just because they are doing well with a connection to you at 3 to 12 months, doesn’t mean that they will do it at 18 months. Keep up the good work right through to adulthood and consolidate until 2 to 3 yrs old and you will have a connected dog for life.

  • Be your dog’s focus, be understanding and upbeat.
  • Don’t dwell on their drive, just work through them in locations where you both can relax and learn.
  • Be your puppies and dogs focus, be understanding and upbeat.
  • Keep them close so you can turn attention back to you and focusing on fun with you.
  • Be the center of their universe.

Do have a look here on how much is too much exercise for a dog?.


Scentwork Is Awesome For Your Anxious, fearful Dogs Too

Pick the right place where few dogs have ventured regulary, location is everything. Walk further into a park and not dwell around the trees and benches close to the entrance. Their reactions maybe less obvious than other dogs in that they slink about, look wary in some instances.

The anxious dog is also on a mission to check out who’s been where and when. Is it safe to proceed, how long ago was the adrenaline-driven, testosterone pumped male last in the vicinity? which way did he go? Are we safe to continue? do I need to be on my guard? Do I actually think it’s safe to continue?

You will notice that in some instances they will floor themselves and refuse to go any further than the front gate or the corner of the road or lamp post, even when things have seemed to be going swimmingly up to that point.

Anxious dogs may not even sniff for a prolonged time, but instead, take in an overview of the area, then pull ferociously, hug the side hedge or wall.

We are visual, our primary sense is our sight. We must understand that the dog’s first sense is that of smell. Do not let him dwell too long on doggy scent markings or let him leave pee mails en route. He making a statement. Walks need to be a joyous occasion.

Paws For Thought “ Feeding Anxiety In Dogs And Puppies”

  • Be your dogs and puppies focus, be understanding and upbeat.
  •  Brisk walk with you through the crowded street or field ( your dog will be smelling the crowded world of dropped scent of passed days, weeks and months before).
  • Don’t dwell on their anxieties just work through them in locations where you both can relax and learn.
  • Do not flood with their fears, walk away from them.
  • Work at a distance they and you can cope with
  • Be the center of their universe.
  • Be their rock


Scent work, nose work and search games are great for all personality and breed of dog.

Ensuring dogs use their noses more then sight is great for their well being. Its natural for a happy well adjust dog. When done in a great ; location.

With any Dog Breed (from a poodle cross to a pug to a hunting dog such as a Visla or labrador) or personality of a dog, I advise to walk away from scent marking though, you’re not on a mission to case the joint and claim the claimed or unclaimed ground. You’re embarking on a positive and pleasurable experience.

Walk through the crowded space of doggy markings, be engaging.  Your dog mirrors you, we’ve heard that so many times and it’s so true. They mirror your emotions, they smell your fear ( adrenaline and cortisol) They smell your relaxed attitude BUT only if they are actually logged on to you.

Six points to make scentwork a positive experience for your dogs.


  • Walk through the crowded smelly areas to a freedom sniffy time of lushness.
  • Choose  location wisely, ensure ( as best you can) that it’s in the center of a park rather than the lamp posts and fence.
  • Find places when less dogs go. Enjoy one to one with your dog.
  • Use your dog’s nose to engage in a  game to find an article and bring it back.
  • Bury some dried liver treat for your dog and they can dig in the sand to find it.
  • With your dogs raw food press it into a muffin tin so they really do get to enjoy the experience of eating a little longer. Here are a few other options to help your dog enjoy life to the full.
  • You don’t have to walk miles to exercise every day, engage his nose and you engage his brain in a thinking rather than reactionary manner.
  • There are great wooden puzzles you can set up at home so your dog has to work out how to open to get to a treat. Great brain work and nose work.


By Caroline Spencer with Bella and Duke Raw Dog Food

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