Friday, 12 July 2019

Why would you need to teach a dog to sniff?

Why do you need to teach a dog to sniff?

Isn’t it just something they do already?

It’s a reasonable question but as a scent-work trainer and handler, I confess that it did make me bristle a little when the announcer at a local charity event asked!

A great scentwork team is poetry in motion.


The dog is focused and thorough, able to sift through unimaginable layers of scent and indicate on the correct spot.




The handler observes and supports the dog, provides a template of patterns to help the dog search efficiently, and steps in to help when asked.

Is there such a thing as a natural sniffer dog?


Well.......sort of!

Some dogs pick up the job faster , and some seem to learn how to process the scent information more quickly.

But there’s still the essential skill of learning to work in a team with the handler…. And no matter how skilled the person and dog are individually the team work still needs to be developed.



That probably sounds like quite hard work, and I won’t lie, sometimes it is!

But l can promise you, scentwork is one of the most fun activities to share with your dog.

It gives us a rare chance to share their world.

Here are just a few benefits that scentwork can offer you and your dog*


Builds cooperation and check-in habits 

By using a teamwork based approach where you are an essential part of the search team, it’s very common to see dogs making more of an effort to stay connected with their handler. Much nicer than watching your dog vanish into the distance following rabbit scent!

Teaches you the handler to be more aware of your body position and signals 

As a WCC dog owner, you're probably pretty good about using your hands consistently but you may not have really appreciated the finer details (your dog will sniff where you gesture, so waving the search hand through the air is less useful than motioning towards a set of boxes).

Learn to really read that subtle body communication 

You’re watching and studying your dog to help identify their indications. This helps you to see all of the other kinds of sniffing or interest that don’t relate to the target scent. So, you are more likely to recognise the warning signs of interest in bunny rabbit sniffs on a walk and be able to collect your dog or stand on the long line!

Quick and effective way to refocus a barking or staring dog 

Sometimes we need something that will be more engaging and keep the dog busy for longer than just eating one treat. Dropping a couple of treats behind you, then reaching in front of your dog with the sweeping “search” sign will often bring the distracted beastie round and get them working away from the trigger.

Increases confidence and optimism

Yes, really! There's been some research showing that doing scent based training games rather than obedience type training actually pushes our dogs towards making more optimistic judgements...Scentwork really is that powerful!

*some of this is based on research findings, and some drawn from Morag and Clare’s ten years of experience in both teaching and handling dogs for scent-work. We've lots more information coming out soon on how to use scentwork to help work on specific challenges

Here’s how to get started, or push your teamwork on to the next level!


Morning workshops (20/21 July) - ONLY TWO SPACES LEFT



Weekly classes



Your very own private introductory session








Happy sniffing and don’t forget to send in pictures of your dogs using their noses….

Morag and Team Sniff'n'Snoot 

P.S. **EXCITING NEWS** We have a whole new Level 3 for Sniffing School coming in Autumn 2019

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