Sniffer Dog Games to Play With Your Dog

Dogs love to play games just like kids. As someone who instructs adults how to play scent games, or nose work games, with their dogs, I wanted to offer you some fun games that children could play.

Nosework Games to Play With Your Child and Your Dog
By: Lesley Zoromski

 

As an instructor who teaches scent detection classes for adults who want to teach their dogs a new skill, I wanted to offer something that children could also do to have fun with their dog as well.

Not only are these games fun but this can also help to build a bond between your child and their dog.

Before you start, pick a command like “find it”, “search” or “seek”. Once you have a word, always use that same command for your dog.

Be sure to keep the games fun by always ending play after a successful search. I would recommend not searching more than three different times. You always want to end the game before your dog gets tired of playing. This way he will be eager to play again the next time.

While you play with your dog they will be getting a lot of treats. Be sure the pieces are very small, like pieces of dog kibble. You can use your dog’s food if you want.

Here is your first game…

“Which Hand?” Game

1. Sit in front of your dog.
2. Put a treat in one hand and show it to your dog. Then enclose it in your fist.
3. Keeping your hand about 12 inches apart, show both closed hands to your dog.
4. Give your dog the search command.
5. If he sniffs the correct hand, open your hand and give the treat and lots of praise.
6. If he gets it wrong, show him the correct hand, but DO NOT give him the treat. Just try again.
7. Repeat the game, but switch hands.
8. Remember: always give the treat and LOTS of praise when your dog is correct!

Game no. 2:

Under the Cup Search

1. Put 3 cups or containers upside down in front of your dog.
2. Show your dog to treat and then hide it under one of the cups. The first time, let your dog see which cup you hide it under.
3. Give your dog the search command.

4. Your dog should go immediately to the correct cup and either push it or knock it over to get the treat.
5. If your dog is correct, given the treat and lots of praise.
6. If your dog is not correct, lift the container and let him see the treat, but don’t let him get it. Give the search command again.
7. After your dog successfully found the treat a couple of times, start hiding it without your dog seeing which cup it under.

Game 3:

Room Search

1. Show your dog a treat.
2. Either have your dog “sit/stay” or have someone hold her while you hide the treat in plain sight. Let your dog see where you put it so she will be successful.
3. Return to your dog to give your search command.
4. Your dog should run to the treat. When she finds it give lots of praise.
5. After several successful easy hides, try making it harder. You could place the treat under a magazine, under the edge of a cushion or pillow, inside issue – – – somewhere the dog can get to the treat, but not see it.
6. If your dog finds it, she gets the treat and lots of praise. If your dog is struggling, either she doesn’t understand, or you’ve hidden the treat too well! Since we always want the dog to be successful and love playing this game, you can go back to hiding the treat in plain sight and work up to harder hides. You can even try hiding it in a separate room from where she is waiting.

I hope you have fun playing these games with your child and your dog!