How to teach your dog to seek by scent

Ever wondered how police sniffer dogs learn their trade? The basics of seeking by smell serve as a stimulating game for your pet


Step 1

Buy a hollow KONG toy or similar and lock away all your dog's other toys. One person holds the dog while you throw the toy along the floor and say 'Seek'. Let him fetch, praise him for releasing it and repeat. Stop after 10 minutes. Do this three times daily for three days, locking away the toy in between. If your dog is uninterested, put dog treats in the toy and let him sniff it first.

Step 2

Now we 'up' the training. Show the dog the toy, throw it out of sight behind a chair, and say 'Seek'. If the dog finds the toy, throw the toy in increasingly hard-to-find places, but always praise him. Your dog is now using his nose more, as he can't see where you've thrown the toy.

Step 3

Now it's time to add more fun. Your partner holds the dog while you hold the toy visibly, walk into the next room and hide it. Walk back in, excitedly say, 'Seek' and let him go. Follow him, saying 'Seek' enthusiastically. Once he finds the toy, throw it across the room like a normal retrieve game a few times and praise him. Put the toy away until the next lesson.

Step 4

Repeat Step 3 but this time stay out of the room and let him bring the toy to you. Praise and repeat several times (but stop before he gets bored). Over time you can use other objects or hide the toy in a jacket pocket. Your dog will soon be doing what he truly loves: on a command, using his terrific sense of smell to track down a specific object.