This is a great activity for any dog that can get distracted by scent, especially hunting dogs.
We often underestimate the power of the dogs nose, even our dogs that have been selectively pet bred for many years. It’s not just working bred dogs who get distracted my sniffs and smells.
Most owners struggle to call the dog off an interesting scent and interrupt the scenting acitivity. What then happens if they do call the dog away, the consequence is often ‘obedience’
Eg Recall, Sit, Lead On. Even if they get rewarded with eating a treat. None of these things are better than sniffing if you’re a dog.
So what were are going to do here, is interrupt sniffing with sniffing. However, while the dog is disengaged/distracted you are going to drop some tasty treats into the ground, so sniffing where you tell them to sniff is going to be more rewarding as they will actually find something as well as searching.
Eventually your dog will think you are better at this sniffing malarkey than they are and be more motivated to listen to you.
If you have seen dogs in groups you will have noticed that if one dogs shows some intense sniffing on a spot the others will rush over to investigate too. If you haven’t start to look out for this. DOgs like investigating smells.
This activity builds up the connection and the motivation for the dog to listen to you.
Start the exercise by throwing the food away to the ground and allow the dog to disengage.
There is a difference between disengagement and distraction.
So start with disengagement and progress to distraction.
Disengagement is the dog seeking a ‘distraction’ or reward opportunity.
As soon as your dog disengages, drop some food into the ground and call ‘here’ then use your hand to encourage the dog to the area where the food is.
Give some verbal praise and head off again and repeat. Allow the dog to finish its reward before you call ‘here’ again.
Finish the session by recalling in and give several treats as you end the session so the dog does not get frustrated about the exercise finishing.
Watch the Video Tutorial
Copyright Jane Ardern BSc (Hons) 2019