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  • Writer's pictureMary Puppins

Easy Scent Games for Your Small Breed Dog

Updated: Feb 22


Small dog Pug in a pile of autumn leaves, easy scent games,


Easy Scent Games for Your Small Dog


Expert Dog Nannies at Mary Puppins Luxury Dog Home Boarding delve into the captivating world of scent work games for our little dogs



Scent Games for Mental Stimulation


Dogs possess an incredible olfactory sense, and engaging them in scent games not only taps into their superpower noses but also provides mental stimulation and confidence-building opportunities.


 

"Dogs experience much of the world around them through their sense of smell. Scent games allow dogs to channel their love of sniffing while enriching their minds. Nose-based games are a great way to keep your dog mentally stimulated indoors." - American Kennel Club.

 



Off Lead Scent Games

If you're fortunate to have a secure dog walk field where dogs can roam freely off the lead, why not initiate a game of chase?


It's a fantastic way to harness their energy while indulging their senses. But when it comes to scent games, preparation is key.


The Best Scents for Scent Games


You'll find that dogs are intrigued by various scents so consider concocting a delightful mixture of lavender, chamomile, or even salmon oil in a spray bottle to infuse the garden with inviting aromas.


Assemble items like plants, logs, or cardboard boxes, and establish a quiet spot to play.


Strategically spritz the chosen scent around the items to be discovered.


Strike a balance between fun and challenge; you want to avoid frustration.


 

"Scent work not only mentally stimulates your dog but also enhances their natural ability to sniff things out, all while having fun!" - Blue Cross.


 



Hide and Seek Scent Games

Gently guide your small breed dog to the scented area and their remarkable sense of smell should kick into action instantly.


If needed, offer a paw in the right direction.


For a classic game of hide and seek, create a scented trail leading to a prize, boosting your dog's mental acuity.


Have you ever presented your canine companion with a box filled with surprises?



Much like us, dogs relish the anticipation of discovering treasures within.


Utilise dog food treats or toys, filling an empty cardboard box with doggy towels containing hidden delights.


Remember, moderation is key – don't overstuff the box.


Encourage your dog to explore by loosely sealing the lid and letting their instincts lead the way.




 

"With just a little planning and patience, you can add fun scent games to your dog's repertoire of behaviours and help her utilise this untapped smell power!" - Modern Dog Magazine.


 


Scent games unlock a variety of enrichments for our beloved pets



Social interactions, cognitive challenges, physical engagement, sensory stimulation, and the gratification of natural foraging instincts are all part of the experience.



FAQs about scent games for your small dog breed:


Scent games are a great way to have fun with your small breed dog while stimulating their instincts and enriching their lives.


Scent games can help improve your dog's sense of smell, mental abilities, confidence, and bond with you.


Here are some fun scent games you can play with your small breed dog at home.


What are some fun scent games for small breed dogs?


Some fun scent games for small-breed dogs are:


- Find the treat:


Hide a treat in a visible or easy-to-reach spot and let your dog find it.


You can use a release command like "Go find it!" to encourage your dog to search.


Gradually up the difficulty by hiding the treat in different rooms, under objects, or in boxes.


You can also use a toy or a piece of clothing with your scent instead of a treat.



- Pick a hand:


Hold a treat in one of your hands and close both fists.


Present them to your dog and let them sniff.


If they nose or paw at the correct hand, praise and reward them with the treat.


If they choose the wrong hand, show them the empty hand and try again.


This game is also suitable for teaching impulse control.



- Cups game:


Similar to pick a hand, but using cups instead of hands.


Place a treat under one of three cups while your dog is watching.


Shuffle the cups around and let your dog sniff them.


If they choose the correct cup, praise and reward them with the treat.


If they choose the wrong cup, show them the empty cup and try again.


You can make this game more challenging by adding more cups or hiding different scents under them.


- Hide and seek:


This game is fun for you and your dog.


While you hide in one room, ask your dog to stay in the other.


Call their name and let them find you.


Praise and reward them when they do.


You can also hide with a toy or a treat to make it more exciting.


- Find the scent:


This game is a beginner version of nosework, a sport involving finding specific scents in different environments.


You will need some cotton balls and essential oils suitable for canines, such as lavender, peppermint, or aniseed.


Start by soaking a cotton ball in one of the oils and placing it in a visible spot.


Give your dog a treat after letting them sniff it.


Continue doing this again until your dog learns to link the fragrance with the treat.


Then, hide the cotton ball in an accessible spot and let your dog find it.


Praise and reward them when they do.


Gradually increase the difficulty by hiding the cotton ball in different locations, using different scents, or adding distractions.


How can scent games enrich my small breed dog's life?


Scent games can enrich your small breed dog's life by:


- Providing mental stimulation:


Scent games challenge your dog's brain and keep them from getting bored or restless.


They can also help prevent or reduce behavioural problems such as chewing, barking, or digging.


- Enhancing physical exercise:


Playing scent games with your dog may help keep them active and in good shape.


They can also help burn off excess energy and reduce stress.


- Boosting confidence:


Scent games can help your dog feel more confident and secure by allowing them to use their natural abilities and succeed at tasks.


They can also help shy or fearful dogs overcome their fears by exposing them to new situations and scents in a positive way.


- Strengthening bond:


Scent games can help you and your dog bond by spending quality time together and having fun.


They can also improve communication and trust between you and your dog by teaching you to read their body language and signals.


What are some DIY scent games I can play with my small breed dog at home?


Some DIY scent games you can play with your small breed dog at home are:


- Muffin tin puzzle:


This game requires only a muffin tin, tennis balls, and treats.


Place treats in some muffin tin holes and cover them with tennis balls.


Next, fill in all of the remaining empty slots with tennis balls.


Give your dog the puzzle and let them investigate by moving the balls to uncover the treats that are concealed beneath.


Change the location of the goodies each time you play to keep it interesting. 


- Snuffle mat:


A snuffle mat is made of fleece strips that hide treats or kibble for your dog to sniff out.


You can buy one online or make one by cutting fleece into strips and tying them onto a rubber mat with holes.


Sprinkle treats or kibble on the mat and let your dog snuffle away.


- Sock puzzle:


This game requires only some old socks and some treats or kibble.


Stuff some socks with treats or kibble and tie them closed.


Then, stuff some empty socks and tie them closed.


Mix them up and place them in a pile or a basket.


Let your dog sniff and pull out the socks with treats or kibble inside.


You can also use different scented items instead of treats or kibble, such as herbs, spices, or fruits.


- Scented bubbles:


This game requires only some bubble solution and some essential oils that are safe for dogs, such as lavender, peppermint, or aniseed.


Add a few drops of one of the oils to the bubble solution and mix well.


Then, blow bubbles for your dog to chase and pop.


They will enjoy the sight, sound, and smell of the bubbles.


How can scent games help stimulate my small breed dog's mind?


Scent games can help stimulate your small breed dog's mind by:


- Improving memory:


Scent games can help your dog remember where they found a treat, a toy, or a scent they are looking for.


They can also help your dog recall past experiences and associations with different scents.


- Enhancing problem-solving:


Scent games can help your dog figure out how to find a hidden item, get to it, or indicate it to you.


Additionally, they can teach your dog to put distractions aside and concentrate on the current activity.


- Growing creativity:


Scent games can help your dog use their imagination and curiosity to explore new scents and environments.


They can also help your dog learn to try different strategies and approaches to find what they seek.


What are the benefits of scent games for small breed dogs?


The benefits of scent games for small breed dogs are:


- They are fun and engaging:


Scent games can provide entertainment and enjoyment for you and your dog.


They can also help relieve boredom and frustration for your dog when they are stuck indoors or have limited space to play.


- They fit people of any size, breed, or age:


Dogs of any age, breed, or size can participate in scent games.


They can also be adapted to suit your dog's physical abilities and preferences.


For example, you can use softer or smaller items for seniors or puppies or different scents for dogs with allergies or sensitivities.


- They are easy and inexpensive:


Scent games do not require any special equipment or training.


You can use items you already have at home, such as toys, treats, socks, cups, or boxes.


You can also play them anywhere, such as in your living room, backyard, or park.


How can I introduce my small breed dog to scent games?



You can introduce your small breed dog to scent games by:


- Starting simple:


Begin with easy games that involve finding a visible or accessible item your dog likes, such as a treat or a toy.


Praise and reward your dog when they find it.


You may progressively raise the complexity by utilising various objects, adding more items, or hiding the items in different locations.


- Positive reinforcement:


When your dog wins a game, reward them with toys, treats, praise, or playtime.


If your dog doesn't succeed or loses interest, don't correct them or penalise them. Keep the games fun and positive for both of you.


- Following your dog's pace:


Let your dog set the pace and duration of the games.


Do not force them to play if they are not interested or comfortable.


Do not overwhelm them with too many scents or challenges at once.


End the games on a high note while your dog is still having fun.


What are some examples of scent games for small breed dogs?


Some examples of scent games for small-breed dogs are:


- Find the treat:


Hide a treat in a visible or easy-to-reach spot and let your dog find it.


You can use a release command like "go find it!" to encourage your dog to search.


Increase the challenge gradually by concealing the treat in different rooms, under objects, or in boxes.


You can also use a toy or a piece of clothing with your scent instead of a treat.


- Pick a hand:


Hold a treat in one of your hands and close both fists.


Present them to your dog and let them sniff.


If they nose or paw at the correct hand, praise and reward them with the treat.


If they choose the wrong hand, show them the empty hand and try again.


This game is also good for teaching impulse control.


- Cups game:


Similar to pick a hand, but using cups instead of hands.


Place a treat under one of three cups while your dog is watching.


Shuffle the cups around and let your dog sniff them.


If they choose the correct cup, praise and reward them with the treat.


If they choose the wrong cup, show them the empty cup and try again.


You can make this game more challenging by adding more cups or hiding different scents under them.



Disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for veterinary advice. For specific veterinary dog health advice, contact a veterinary pet healthcare provider.



At Mary Puppins Luxury Dog Home Boarding, we recognise that dogs are not just pets; they're cherished family members.


So, if you're seeking a five-star retreat for your small breed dog or toy breed dog, right here in the heart of Cheshire, our VIP dog boarding, complete with experienced Dog Nannies, is the perfect answer.


Treat your furry friend to the ultimate doggy holiday, where they'll feel at home while having a blast!


BOOK your little one's place with Mary Puppins now. Give them the 5* VIP doggy holiday they deserve, while you enjoy yours. With limited places, we get booked up super fast.


Mary Puppins dog scent games



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Mary Puppins Dog Nanny expert in small dog breeds UK

Kate Phillips, Chief Editor

BSc (Hons), MSc


Kate is the UK's very own Mary Puppins, a professional Dog Nanny and expert in small breed dogs. With over 30 years' experience and successfully helping high profile celebrity pet parents raise their furry families, Kate shares her top tips with you. Kate guides readers on small breed dogs, dog health, dog training, dog nutrition, dog food, dog walks, dog accessories, dog enrichment, rescue dogs, dog behaviour, dog grooming and the best products for dog mums and dog dads to create the ultimate luxury lifestyle for their small dogs.



 

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