Can nosework be trained with a puppy?

More and more often the owners of puppies ask if they can start nosework with such a young dog. The answer is: of course, yes! Nosework is an activity that is based on the natural behavior of dogs, sniffing. This is the activity that dogs like very much, it relieves stress and provides a lot of information.

What’s more, taking into consideration formal issues, a dog that has turned 6 months can take the NW exams (accordingly to Nosework Polska regulations). They had to prepare for them once, didn’t they? 😉

Why should I do that?

Many will ask, but for what reason is it worth starting with any puppy olfactory work? Nosework allows you to build a positive relationship on the keeper-dog line. On the one hand, it builds self-confidence in the dog, allowing them to solve puzzles and make decisions on their own, but, on the other hand, it shows the dog that they have support in their keepers. It is a great way to spend time together, it shows both sides what is trust. Nosework can also be a useful tool in the puppy socialization process.

Isn’t nosework too difficult for a puppy?

However, the question remains, whether the traditional training will not be too difficult and too demanding for a puppy. Everything depends on the individual as usual. We can have a confident dog for which a little work will be fun. We can, however, have fragile, very sensitive characters, which after a while any requirements will close or discourage. That’s why nosework does not have to be a serious work right away, and it can be great fun! Although, nosework is fun all the time and this is how we should treat our training.

So what can we do with a puppy?

Building awareness of the fragrance through combining it with food or toys. If someone thinks about nosework at a later time more seriously, it’s good to show the dog from the very beginning that it’s the scent that will give them the reward. We can use both food and a toy for this. Food Prepare a fragrance sample in a metal can with holes. Put it under the item on which you will feed the dog. It may be, for example, a colander or an olfactory mat. The dog, when looking for and eating delicacies, will also associate it with the odor chosen by us. One of the next exercises may be to hide a plastic container in a room (at next stages also outside).

You should put a fragrance sample and food in the container. Initially, we show the dog where we hide the container, which will help them understand the game. Over time, we hide the container so that the puppy can not see it. It will focus their attention on a specific task, get them tired and help avoid unwanted destruction because of boredom 😉 Initially, the container can be opened so that the dog can eat the food right away, with time we use a closed container in which we make a few holes and we reward the dog once they find it. We can use a toy in exactly the same way as food.

So we combine the odor with the toy. It is worth choosing toys that a puppy really likes. It is good to play for a moment with the dog with the chosen toy before the olfactory exercises. We don’t want to make them get tired too much, but we want to excite them with the toy. Here, we can also hide a toy and a fragrance sample in various places both in a room and outside. The toy can lie next to the can with the smell or we can use a container into which we put both items.

After finding them, play with the puppy for a moment. And in this case, initially, the container can be opened, then we can close it and after finding it we reward the dog with the toy. Of course, such exercises can be performed with any dog, they are not reserved for a specific age or stage, but in a very pleasant way they will allow you to start olfactory work with your puppy, without requiring too much from them.