Dogs have noses that are estimated to be between 1,000-10,000 times as strong as the human nose. You smell beef stew, they smell beef, water, salt, celery etc. With a nose that powerful, it's no surprise that humans have been using them to locate drugs, people and even rarities like truffles for hundreds of years. Here are some ways you can let your dog use his nose at home.
1 Hide & Seek: We've all done this. Admit it. It's super rewarding when a dog with an all-powerful nose can't find you hiding behind a door! You can start by putting your dog in a down or sit while you hide inside in obvious places. Then pick better and better spots as they learn the game. Eventually you can add difficulty by choosing to hide in new places like your yard or a local park.
2 Treat Hide & Seek: Hide a treat or treats around the house. Simple enough and straight forward. But if that's too boring, you can get 3 cups and hide a treat under one of them and mix them up. Interestingly enough, if you're from a big city or decide to visit one, and someone tries to play this game with you using a ball? Walk away. You'll lose every time!
3 Guess The Hand: This game is simple enough. Put a treat in one hand and ball it up so that the treat isn't visible. Let your dog use his sniffer to sniff and pick a hand. If he guesses correctly, give him the treat.
4 Find The ball: This is a personal favorite of mine. Put your dog in a down or sit and toss a ball into tall grass or bushes. Then release your dog to go find it. This is the epitome of a simple, fun game. Just make sure you use cheap balls because you might lose them. Also remember to check your dog for ticks if you live in an area with ticks and don't use a preventative treatment.
5 Play Tracking: Either you or a friend can walk a track in a field or yard. Drop a small treat with every footstep so that your dog can learn the game. As he gets better, use less treats to make it more difficult. If that's too easy, let the track age for an hour before letting your dog try.
6 Walk & Search: While going for a walk, show your dog a delectable morsel of a treat and toss it into the grass. Only toss it a few inches at first. But like with some of the other games, when it gets too easy, eventually you'll toss the treat further and further as they begin to understand the game. This game is great because it adds a little fun to a boring walk.
7 Article Search: Grab an old wallet and put a few treats in it. Pretend to drop the wallet while walking. Give your dog a command to search and trace your steps. If your dog finds the wallet, give him the treats inside. Eventually you can do this without stuffing the wallet and simply reward your dog with treats from your pocket or treat bag when they find it. You can do this with any man-made article you want, but I prefer a wallet because it can be stuffed. Well, that and because I hope it'll pay off if I ever drop my actual wallet!
Now that we've gone through our 7 nose games that you can do at home. Maybe you're interested in real nose work. Get out there and join an IPO club or its equivalent or find AKC tracking classes nearby. Tracking is fun, peaceful and great mental stimulation for you and your dog. Enjoy.