How to Teach a Dog to Search for Objects by Smell?

Teaching your dog to search for objects by smell is a snap if your pet can serve items on command or love games that use items. For example, if a dog brings you a discarded toy, inviting you to throw it again or play tug-of-war, then this is the right game for our purpose.

Stage One: Throwing

So, let’s say that your dog knows how to play the way it should, then you can safely start teaching her to look for objects with the help of scent. Better to start with a game called throwing. It can be played both indoors and outdoors.

First, you need to take the dog on a leash and present it with its favorite play object. You can move the toy a little in front of the animal’s nose to increase the desire to receive it and then discard it. It is advisable to do this so that the subject is out of sight. For example, for any obstacle, into a hole, into bushes, into grass or snow.

After dropping the object, make a circle with the dog so that it loses sight of the reference point for its search. For the same purpose, before throwing, you can cover the dog’s eyes with one hand.

Now you need to give the pet the command to search for “Search!” and with the help of a gesture show exactly where; to do this, extend your right hand towards the search area. After that, go with the dog to look for the item. When helping a pet, indicate only the direction of the search, and not the place where the object lies.

When the dog discovers the object, you need to praise it and play it fun. The described exercise should be repeated 2-3 more times. When you finish your workout, trade your dog’s toy for something tasty. In one school day, you can conduct from 5 to 10 such game lessons. Be sure to change the in-game items to keep your dog fun looking for them.

Stage Two: Skid Game

When you notice that your pet has understood the meaning of the game, move on to its next form – skidding play. Call the dog, present it with a game object, provoke it a little with the movement of the object, and, if you are in the apartment, go with the toy to another room, closing the door behind you. Place the object so that the dog cannot immediately find it with his eyes, but so that its smell can spread unhindered. If you are hiding an item in a drawer, then leave a wide gap. After that, return to the pet, give the command “Search!” and together with him start looking for a toy.

As a rule, young animals search chaotically. They can examine one corner three times, and never enter the other. Therefore, when helping your dog, let him know to search the room, starting from the door in a clockwise direction. Attract your pet’s attention with a gesture of your right hand or even by tapping the objects of study with it.

Watch your dog closely. By her behavior, you can understand whether she caught the smell of the desired object or not. If the dog, having found a toy, cannot get it on its own, help it and arrange a fun game.

If you are outdoors, tie your dog up, show and smell the toy, then carry away. Step back about ten steps and hide the toy, and then pretend you are hiding it in different places three or four more times. Just don’t get too carried away and remember that the smell should spread unhindered.

Return to the dog, make a turn with it and send it to search, giving the command “Search!”. If necessary, help the pet by showing the direction and forming a search with a shuttle: 3 meters to the right, then 3 meters to the left of the line of movement, etc. And, of course, having found the object, play with the dog.

Stage Three: The Hiding Game

Skid play should not be practiced for more than 2-3 days, otherwise, the dog will decide that it is necessary to look only in such a situation. It’s time to move on to the game of hiding, and this is already a real search.

If you are studying at home, put all the dog toys in the box. Take one of them and, without attracting the dog’s attention, hide it in one of the rooms so that the toy cannot be seen. But make sure that there is a free spread of the smell. It is not necessary to let the dog sniff an object: it perfectly remembers the smell of its toys, besides, they all have its smell.

Call the dog, stand with it at the door of the room, give the command “Look!” and start searching with the dog. At first, the pet may not believe you, because you did not throw anything and did not bring anything. Therefore, it is necessary to prove to him that after the magic command “Seek!” there is definitely something.

Change toys when working with your dog. Optionally, you can add the word “toy” to the command. Then, over time, the pet will understand that after these words you need to look for only toys, and not slippers, for example.

When exercising outdoors, simply throw or hide the toy without being noticed by the dog. After that, going back 10-12 steps, call her and offer to find the toy. To complicate the task, you can more carefully hide objects and give your pet less help in the search process. But remember that the better you hide, the more time must pass before starting the search – you need to allow time for the odor molecules from the toy to evaporate from its surface, overcome possible obstacles and get into the air.

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