Positive Dog Solutions 202-630-0249

Nosework is a great activity to promote mental health in dogs. It empowers the dog to make own decisions and have those decisions lead to success which will allow the dog to thrive. It is an activity that is easy to set up but provides a lot of mental stimulation that will help the dog destress and also build conscious engagement with the surrounding environment as well as build focus. Dogs usually loves this activity and it makes them happy and relaxed. This is also an exercise that gives us an excellent opportunity to pair it with sounds, other dogs, people, novel visuals or whatever else the dog has concerns about, as a way of building good associations.

Introduce the dog to the boxes

  • •Put 4-5 boxes on the floor and put high-value treats in one (hot dogs or lunch meat)
  •  Repeat above until it is super easy for the dog and s/he knows exactly what to do when seeing the boxes

Expand the hunt

  • Put out 6-8 boxes on the floor and put high-value treats in 2-3 of them
  • Put the boxes wider apart so the search area becomes bigger

Add challenges to the hunt

  • Put boxes on top of each other so the dog must push one box off the other
  • Put a box where they must figure out how to get to it (narrow space behind couch, etc.)
  • Put one of the bait boxes at an elevated location (on a chair)

Add distractions to the hunt

  • Put other objects among the boxes as a distraction
  • Put food on a paper plate or other item – hidden – so that the food may now be found on a different object
  • Hide the boxes/ plate of food along the parameters of a room to increase the search space

Change context

  • Do the box game in different rooms
  • In the back yard
  • In a different location

Keep in mind

  • Give the dog total free reign (off or on leash). Always make it easier if the dog struggles. You can put out just a couple of boxes to start with.
  •  If you need to help the do it in an indirect way by walking toward the area the food is or toss something in that direction. We want the dog to learn to problem solve alone
  •  If the dog is timid you can do “find it,” “Catch” or other games in the area first, but make sure once the dog is ready to search the boxes that those other games go away in nosework area.