A few things first;
Always use your own judgement when with your dog. This information is meant as a guide only. You are, and will remain responsible for the actions of your dog at all times.
Most dogs could enjoy this game, but if your dog enjoys a game of fetch or enjoys toys, hunting, digging or investigating things, (yes, MOST dogs!) It will help.
All dogs use scent discrimination (SD) in everyday life. We all know if we put a nice meaty bone outside it wouldn’t take long for our dog to find it!
Be aware though, large nosed dogs are used in working situations due to genetically being more suited. Dogs with small or squashed noses, or breeds with breathing difficulties are not used in work for a number of reasons.
The main concern for us and our dogs (especially with short/squashed noses or with breathing difficulties) is that while dogs are “scenting” they are not “breathing” normally. A dog cannot scent and pant at the same time.
As dogs cool their body temperature by panting, keep this in mind with our “game” especially in warmer weather, or if you have a dog with breathing restrictions. Take regular breaks, keep training sessions short and supply water for your dog to drink and offer it regularly while training and after.
So lets talk about our “dummy”. We use this to teach our dog to target the scent. Take a hand towel and roll it up with your chosen scent. Jake and I used tea (bags) Secure it with insulating tape at each end. Put it in a plastic bag and leave for a few days to gather the scent.
To start the game:
Dont underestimate the learning (by association) that a dog has to the tools we use in training. Have you ever noticed the Handle a blind person holds, the cute little coat on the dogs working in airports? A tool can tell our dog we are commencing a certain training situation and he learns to predict what is about to come. And that should always mean: This Training = Fun! Consider using a “different collar, leash, or even just tie a ribbon on to his collar each time you train.
Stay tuned and Happy Training!