Why Sniffing Is Essential For Your Dog’s Wellbeing
When you head out for a walk with your dog, what are your priorities?
Giving your dog exercise and the opportunity to go to the toilet, right?
Of course, those two things are very important. But there’s a third thing that should be considered an essential part of every walk: sniffing.
Is sniffing good for dogs? Yes! Sniffing is hugely beneficial for dogs and essential for their wellbeing. It’s stimulating too - experts tell us just 20 minutes of sniffing is equivalent to an hour’s walk in terms of enrichment for your dog.
‘As humans, we are very visual, but for dogs smells are everything,’ said Tug-E-Nuff Play Expert, Chelsea.
‘It’s tempting to hurry our dogs along when time is short, but giving them time to sniff is almost as important as the physical exercise they get from a walk.
‘Sniffing is your dog’s way of making sense of the world around them - and it provides lots of mental stimulation, which can help keep their brain healthy as well as their body.’
So how can you build in time for sniffing into your everyday life?
Scentwork for dogs is really easy to do - for dogs of all ages and abilities! Here are three fun scent game ideas to get you started…
This is a simple but super effective way to make scent work fun, without even leaving the house!
To play Find It with your dog, you’ll need some smelly treats (like dried sprats, or these treats) plus The Clam or a Food Bag. Simply fill The Clam or Food Bag with a couple of treats and show it to your dog. Then, ask them to wait while you hide the filled toy. To begin with, make sure you hide it in the same room and don’t make it too difficult (under a cushion on the floor is a great place to start).
Next, invite your dog to ‘find it’ and let them sniff out the toy by themselves. Try to avoid helping them, if you can. If it’s The Clam that you’ve hidden, your dog can help themselves to the treats within when they find it. If you’ve hidden the Food Bag, your dog can bring it to you for the double reward of a game of tug, followed by you opening the pouch to let them get the treats inside.
Once your dog masters the basics of playing Find It with a treat-based toy, you could try it with one of our real fur tuggies (like the Wondabaa Bungee or Rabbit Skin Pocket Squeaker). These (responsibly-sourced) real fur tuggies have a unique scent and texture which your dog will find extremely motivating.
Follow Your Nose
What usually happens when we walk our dogs is that we decide the route and we expect them to follow us - and on our schedule too. This activity is a great way to remind ourselves that walks are about the journey, not just the destination.
It’s easy. Simply go for a walk in a favourite park or open space, but let your dog take the lead. Allow them to sniff out a route of their own and to follow smells that they find interesting (as long as it's safe to do so, of course). All you have to do is follow quietly behind, or at their side.
Pay attention to the things your dog likes to sniff the most. We bet when you see how much joy it brings them, you’ll be much more inclined to let them have time to sniff more frequently.
A Noise Box is an excellent way to build confidence with dogs who are reactive to certain noises - but it’s also a fun and simple way to build in some scentwork.
To play, you’ll need a cardboard box, The Clam filled with some smelly treats, and lots of noisy materials to fill your box, like crumpled paper and empty plastic bottles. Simply hide your filled Clam at the bottom of the Noise Box and invite your dog to sniff it out. When they do, they can reward themselves instantly thanks to the Clam’s clever design.
If you'd like to learn more about the power of scent training and how it can help you and your dog, tap into our beginner's guide to scent training featuring top tips from UK Sniffer Dogs.