Do you play games with your dog? Canine games are fantastic for your dog’s well-being and the friendship between you. So shuffle your schedule around today because we are going to introduce you and your dog to a really great game to play.
First of all though let’s look at the benefits of playing with your dog;
- Playing games uses his mind and for the older dog can help prevent the onset of canine dementia.
- You can teach your dog control during play, without him even knowing that he is being trained.
- When you interact with your pet the relationship between you becomes stronger and more enjoyable than ever before.
Everyone knows the game of fetch, and many like to play tug with their dogs and a ragger toy. We are going to go one step further here so read on for there are interesting playtimes ahead.
The Search Dog
Teaching your dog to search is extremely rewarding. It’s impressive too. Some dogs are natural sniffers whilst others prefer to be doing something less active. A Labrador, German Shepherd or Spaniel will thoroughly enjoy search training. If you try to send your toy Yorkie on a hunt he may not be so keen. We find that many toy breeds prefer the sofa to rugged mountain hikes and anything which can be associated with work.
A dog’s sense of smell is thousands of times stronger than ours. His hearing too would put us to shame but interestingly his eyesight is about the same as an average human. For search training the dog we will be using his nose.
How Scent Works
A search dog, regardless of whether he is sniffing for drugs, weapons, currency or explosives is actually only searching for his reward. He knows that when he finds the scent that he has already associated with his toy or treat he will be able to play with it or eat it.
It’s as simple as that for the dog.
When an item is hidden, whether it is stashed indoors or outside, the scent begins to leak into the air around it. The weather, wind and surroundings all determine which way the scent goes. This is called a scent pool or a scent cone. In addition to this, whilst an item is hidden, there will be disturbance in the local area.
The dog will be able to smell change in the area. This will lead him to check it more carefully. Then he will find what he is looking for.
Stages of Training
Stages of professional search dog training are pretty straightforward. So don’t delay and train your search dog today.
- The dog is introduced to a special toy which is put away at the end of every training session. Throughout the following stages your dog needs to be rewarded by playing with the toy after every time he finds it.
- Retrieve is taught, so the toy is thrown over distance and into different areas for the dog to fetch and bring back. During this game the dog can be held on his collar and released. By holding and letting him go he has to use his nose to find the scent rather than just run to where he has seen it land.
- The next trick is to have a helper hold your dog or, if he is well trained, you could even ask him to wait. Then visit a few areas that your dog can see whilst touching them and pretending to lay down the toy. Then release the dog to search the entire area until he finds the toy.
- When your dog is using his nose effectively you can begin to hide the toy in advance then just send him into the area you have hidden the toy, asking him to find it.
- Each time your dog recognizes a scent his behavior will change. His tail will wag furiously or he will do a check pace and return to the hide. You will start to notice it quickly and be able to question what he has found. This will help him to believe in himself.
That is really it, in regards to how sniffer dogs are trained. It is a very basic outline but should be enough to get you going. If he is good at it and you both enjoy searching you could make a habit of it, or even join your local search and rescue team.
“There are NO bad dogs ~ only misunderstood ones.”