The Nose Knows 6

This past weekend was Nose Games time at Peaceable Paws – and what a fun time it was! We spent two days playing with dog noses, and ended Sunday afternoon with tired and happy canines and humans. This was the first time we’d offered this workshop, and I can’t wait for the next one!

Our Nose Games workshop differs from the competitive Nose Work seminar that’s touring the country, in that we explore a variety of scenting opportunities rather than just focusing on the competition, although what we do lays a solid foundation for Nose Work, if that’s where you’re headed. As the trainers in our group discovered, nose games offer endless possibilities for working and playing with clients’ dogs as well as their own. A simple “Find it!” with a treat tossed on the ground is an easy and effective way to engage a dog who knows and has a happy association with the “find it” cue, when his mind and behavior are wandering off to inappropriate zones. It;s a great way to add more exercise to your dog’s routine, as well as environmental enrichment – for dogs in homes as well as dogs in shelters.

Karol Kennedy’s three-legged Terrier mix, Nike, plays “Find it in the grass” – much harder than “Find it on rubber mats.”

It’s interesting to note that, while dogs have an excellent sense of smell constantly utilizing it is, in fact, fairly hard work for them, and tiring. Most dogs, on a hunt, will use their eyes and ears first, and resort to scenting out prey only when necessary, because of the biological imperative to conserve energy for survival purposes.

As I anticipated, our workshop dogs needed lots of breaks, and we built in recovery time by pairing teams up and having them watch each other work (an excellent learning experience) as well as taking discussion breaks (also useful for learning) and potty breaks.

Here’s our two-day outline for Nose Games:

Day One:

9:00am – Introductions; Discussion of scent work; Reading your dog

9:30am – Working Session #1:

Introduction to Nose Games: “Find It!”

Find it Toss

Find it in Plain View

Find it Hidden in Plain View

10:15 – Gather – discussion

10:30am – BREAK

10:45am – Working Session #2:

Review Session #1

Work with Toys/Objects

Hidden in Room

Leslie Fisher’s Bridgette waits patiently out of sight while mom hides treats.


Then enthusiastically and eagerly looks for – and finds – several hidden treats.

Take Scent

11:30 – Gather – Discussion


1:30pm – Push/Mark

Lynne Young’s Wyatt – who has done this before – marks to indicate he’s found the scent.


The scent is birch, dabbed on this tiny Q-tip, wedged into the tread of a tire.


Training the Push/Mark

Hidden in Boxes

A little mre challenging – Catherine Schuler’s Dachshund, Shade, finds the treat in a box on the chair.


A little more challenging – Catherine Schuler’s Dachshund, Shade, finds the treat in a box on the chair.

2:15 – Gather – Discussion

2:30pm – BREAK

2:45pm – Check This

3:00pm – Working Session #4:


Check This/Look Here

3:45 – Gather – Discussion

4:00pm – Questions/Discussion


5:00pm – Close

Day Two

9:00am – Review/Questions from Day One; discuss Day Two program

9:30am – Working Session #5:

Review Day 1 work

Scent Discrimination – salient scent

10:15 – Gather – Discussion

10:30am – BREAK

10:45am – Working Session #6:

A pause for rest and discussion.


Introduce New Scent – non-salient scent

11:30 – Gather – Discussion


1:30pm – Working Session #7:


Scent Discrimination

2:15 – Gather – Discussion

2:30pm – BREAK

2:45pm – Nose Games

Find Hidden Treat (owner doesn’t know where)

Find Hidden Owner

Scent Discrimination Boxes

4:00pm – Q&A

4:30 – Close

The best part for me was watching the dogs progress from Day One when they had no clue what we were doing, to the end of Day Two when they were purposefully searching, on task, for the hidden treats. To see Leslie Fisher of Look What I Can Do dog training working with her very enthusiastic and on-task Labrador Retriever, Bridgette, click here.

Our next Nose Games workshop is Scheduled for September 11 and 12. Come and have fun with us!

Warm Woofs and Happy Training,

Pat Miller

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6 thoughts on “The Nose Knows

  • Barb

    Twist and I had a wonderful time!! Sooooo much fun!! I was really pleased with his focus and work ethic at the end of the session.

    Only regret was not bringing Norm on the second day and seeing if he could “find” Sturgis. I bet Norm finds him AND traces his path to the hiding spot pretty accurately!!

    Gotta love it when they enjoy training so much!! Thanks!

    • Pat Miller

      Roy Hunter’s Nose Games has some fun ideas… Kat Albrecht’s book (I forget the exact name) on how to train your dog to be a pet detective, has good very information. You can Google the Nosework site and see what they have to offer…

  • Sue Romano

    Sounds like a great group at the workshop, wish Rocki and I had been able to attend, hopefully we’ll be able to come in September, think the idea of everyone getting a chance to observe other dogs using their noses is a great way to learn how each dog works and to better understand perhaps the behavior of your own dog and how they use their nose. The one thing that fascinates me about it is understanding the flow of the scent and where the dog needs to be to pick up on the scent…and am I interpreting comments to understand you did a find with the dogs for Sturgis? WHAT FUN!