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  • Liz MacHaffie

Beginner Nosework Games!



You've got your nosework supplies and you're ready to start! Now what?


Odor = AWESOME!

  • This game helps your dog learn to put their nose near the odor for their reward!

  • Sessions should be short and sweet to start! 1-3 minutes total.

  • Odor Only

  • Start by sitting on a stool or in a low chair (or squatting!).

  • In one hand, hold your odor tin. Use your other hand to hold and deliver treats.

  • Present the odor tin in your hand and wait for them to put their nose even just near the odor tin. As soon as they do, mark and reward with your treat hand directly over your odor tin hand. (Reward right at the source of the odor as much as possible :) )

  • As soon as they finish eating, remove the odor tin hand and then your treat hand. You can present the odor tin hand again, or you can toss a treat away from the area so you have a chance to reset first.

  • Reward your dog for closer and closer movement toward the tin until they can successfully hover their nose over your hand when it's presented.

  • Once they're doing well, swap which side the treats and odor are on.

  • Odor VS Treats: It's your choice!

  • This portion will look almost exactly like the one above!

  • This time, you'll present the odor tin in one hand and a closed fist of treats in the other.

  • Your dog might sniff the treat hand, and that's okay. Reward any movement toward the odor hand.

  • Repeat until your dog is able to choose odor over treats right away! (This might take a few short sessions, that's normal!)

Find It!


This game helps your dog start to learn to go SEARCH for the odor. You'll need your odor training containers for this one.

  • Get a HOT container ready: An odor training container with your odor tin inside it.

  • Put your dog in a stay (or have someone hold them by the harness/collar/leash) and let them see the hot container.

  • Place the hot container in plain view on the ground.

  • Say “Okay, find it!” and release them!

  • Let your dog go to the odor container and mark (say "yes") when they put their nose in it or even near it. Feed directly over the container.

  • Repeat with the container a short distance away until your dog is reliably going straight to it and indicating it with their nose. (At least 3 in a row correct.)

  • Once they're doing well, start increasing the distance and changing the location in the room! (Stay in the same room/area of the yard for now.) When you first start, you'll place it right near your feet. As your dog is successful, you can move it further and further away from you.

  • You can also make things more challenging by beginning to place the container in places where they will have to work in corners and nooks. This will encourage them to use his nose even more.

As always, keep sessions short and build on success! If your dog is getting frustrated, resist the urge to help him by doing anything to indicate where the odor is. Instead, reset them and put the box in an easier location.


Having trouble? Let your trainer know and we can help you out!

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