Friday, August 5, 2011

Mmmmm... boxes

That's a strange thing to start salivating over. But all of the barn residents now associate the sight of boxes with tasty treats, namely hot dogs. Everyone, including finally Mr Jiggs, has had an opportunity to try out the sport of nose work, and you start out this fun game using boxes to capture and accumulate an intriguing odor the dogs will search for. Canine scent work for novices.

What makes nose work a perfect activity for any dog? So many reasons, but these include: 1) the dogs already possess the skill required to do the sport, i.e. searching using their noses; 2) the dogs initially get to search for something really motivating (yummy tidbits); 3) all you need are boxes, a small open space for a search area, and said tasty tidbits; 4) the dogs are ALWAYS successful. The dogs catch on really quickly to how the game is played and stay motivated because they are generously rewarded with high-value treats. It might be hot dogs, or it could be cheese, sausage pieces, tuna or other fish, or even beef tripe. It just needs to be easily detected by the dogs.

The dogs don't need to have a strong work drive, like our Star, who showed off her nose work skills for Letti, who then posted photos for all of us to admire. Nita shows a great fondness for searching, just takes it at a slower pace. And for timid dogs like Mr Jiggs, it can be a real confidence booster. He was a little hesitant at first about sticking his head into a square object, not certain what might happen once his nose hit bottom. But once he realized there was something mighty tasty for him to discover and to savor, he was all for trying it again.

"Hey, I just found something really yummy and no one is pulling me away from it!"
Looks pretty pleased with himself, doesn't he? And he should be. He was successful at searching for and finding the source of the odor, and even got over his initial reservations about sticking his head into something unfamiliar.

Mr Jiggs might want to demonstrate his expertise at this new sport for some visitors who will be arriving shortly at the barn. We'll have plenty of hot dogs on hand. Whether you've got a low-key dog or a hard-working, non-stop girl who needs constant challenges, or maybe you're working with a dog who's lacking self-confidence, nose work can be a great addition to all of the fun activities you do together.


  1. I love that first picture of The Jiggs with his little nose up in the air drinking in the smells. It's a great pic of a happy dog! I'm glad that nose work is helping him gain confidence!

  2. Maize had her first nose work class last Wednesday! It was SO much fun and she did a great job. Looking at Mr. Jiggs just makes me happy he gives off the best happy vibes.

  3. Thanks for the how to's! I definitely want to do this with my two! Everyone loves hot dogs!


Thanks for your comments, questions and feedback!