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  • Writer's pictureVickie Foster

4 Fun Scent Games To Play With Your Dog

Puppies are born blind and deaf but despite this their powerful sense of smell is fully intact. This sense guides them as puppies and continues to do so their whole lives. If you want to learn how to unleash your dog's natural scenting abilities, keep reading!

Playing scent and tracking games with your dog provides mental stimulation as well as quality bonding time for both you and your pup. We’ve outlined some indoor games that can easily be adapted to play outside when the sun shines through. Start off simple so your dog is encouraged by success!

Which hand?

This game is simple and can be played anywhere. All you will need are some treats and your hands.

  1. Start by putting a treat in one of your hands.

  2. Close your fist and show both hands to your dog.

  3. Open the treat hand when your dog finds the treat.

  4. Do this a few more times with your dog choosing correctly.

  5. You can advance to the more complicated game next.

Magical Cups

Grab 3 cups for this exercise. Use paper or plastic cups according to your dog's size.

  1. Show your dog that you are putting a treat under one cup.

  2. Let them get the treat and praise them.

  3. After a couple of times add a second cup.

  4. Show your dog that you’re putting a treat under one cup.

  5. Put the second cup down too.

  6. Praise your dog for finding the treat under the correct cup and reward them with the treat.

  7. Follow the same steps adding a third cup.

  8. Eventually, after your dog finds the correct cup, move the cups around. Praise them when they find the treat under the correct cup and reward them with the treat.

Muffin Tin

You may remember this game from our earlier blog article 3 DIY Dog Treat Puzzles. This is also a great indoor nose game.

You’ll need a common muffin/cupcake tin, tennis balls for each tin cup, and your dog’s favorite treats.

  1. With all your supplies handy, place several of your dog’s favorite treats in the tin cups

  2. Put a tennis ball on top of each cup. Now your dog is ready to try it!

  3. Your pup will need to nuzzle aside the tennis ball to find the loaded treat cups.

  4. You may have to show your dog the treats for the first couple of times until they get the hang of it.

  5. After that, it will be an entertaining time for your pup and a great way to stimulate that nose!

Hide and Seek

You’ll have fun adapting that hide-and-seek game you played as a kid to include your dog!

  1. Put your dog in a sit-stay or have someone hold them for you.

  2. Hide from your dog in increasingly hard-to-find places but make sure that your dog is successful in finding you!

  3. You may hide behind the drapes, under a blanket, just make it fun for both of you.

  4. Praise your dog when they find you and reward them with a treat!

We hope you enjoyed reading our list of nose games for your dog. Maybe you can try one over the weekend! If you are interested in training your dog for scent work click below to check out our Gentle Touch Pet Training Nose Work classes. The classes are lots of fun and they also strengthen the communication and bond between you and your dog!


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All proceeds from Thousand Hills Pet Resort support New Life K9s. New Life K9s provides service dogs to veterans and first responders with PTSD at no cost to them.






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