Well, it's that time of year again!! It's getting cold and snowy! If you're in the lower mainland, it's probably raining! Dogs do love the snow, but in reality, we don't get them out and about like the spring, summer and fall.
There are so many options to occupy and enrich your dog. When your dog is using his brain, it does tire them out, often as much as a walk. We can offer work-to-eat toys, play games, teach tricks, and do nose work with your dog. Your dog will be tired, happy and much better behaved!!
I had to begin with this because my husband and I are addicted! Some trainers call it different names such as "scent games". But personally, I only train with certified instructors from the K9 NASCW. This is a rigorous program, where trainers focus on nose work and learn an amazing amount about odour and the dog's nose. They will be trained the best way we know, as of now, to teach dogs to find odour.
Firstly, you may wonder exactly what nose work is. Well it's the sport of canine scent detection. There are essentially 3 people that began this whole sport. They had worked in a professional capacity working dogs to search for various things such as drugs, money etc. They wanted to bring this amazing ability that all dogs have, to pet dogs! So, K9Nosework was invented!!
Generally, pet dogs will be searching for birch, anise and clove, although there are a couple other odours that they can taught depending on which league you may choose to compete in. Yes there are competitions, ribbons and more. No pressure to compete, this can be completely for fun too!
There are a lot of things that I love about the sport but here are a couple.
1- ANY dog, of any age can do this! This includes blind dogs or dogs that have mobility issues, isn't the amazing?!
2- You can practise on your own. Unlike many other sports such as agility and flyball, it is very difficult to practise on your own, without buying the equipment. This equipment is very expensive. Nosework is incredibly inexpensive. You need a few viles of odour, a couple little metal tins, some boxes and cotton swabs. Easy to find and not expensive to buy.
3- This can be done indoors or outdoors. Once your dog is doing well, you can do this outside, so the locations are endless!
Teaching your dog tricks is one of the best things you can do. It increases the bond you have with your dog and experts say that when we are teaching tricks to our dogs, we are much more free flowing with the treats!!
My two best resources to get started have to be www.clickertraining.com, this is the clicker training site by Karen Pryor, one of the certifications I have. It teaches basics on the clicker, which is excellent to use when teaching tricks (but not required). The other is
There is no better all in one place to find many, many ideas to offer enrichment for you your dog than the facebook group "K9 Enrichment".
Some of the ideas on this Facebook page are really easy, but a lot of fun for your dog. There are even suggestions of a variety of good work-to-eat toys! Have fun with this, the posts are endless and come from people across the world.
Work To Eat Toys
Many people aren't really sure what this means but this really means just what it says, toys that your dog has to work to get food out of. I recommend all dogs eat all meals out of them. This is an easy change up for your dog and provides simple enrichment every day, from a puppy to a senior. There are so many on the market, it's easy to rotate them so they get different ones frequently too.
I will list a few of my favourite but explore on your own, there are more and more out there every day!
Snuffle Mat-Make It Yourself!
Examples could be:
Hide n Seek-dogs love this game!!
Flirt Pole, I'm sure you must be wondering what the heck that is?!! See below!
Last, but not to be forgotten, TUG!!