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The Best Games for Tripawds are Under Your Nose

We love interactive brain games for Tripawds. They’re gentle on the body, and great for the brain. Dog of any physical ability can reap the rewards, you can build a stronger bond together and both human and dog can have fun doing them!

Today, long-time Tripawds friend Karen @krun15 is here to explain more. Our community scent work expert, Karen’s Tripawd Elly and four-legger Callie have racked up scent work titles over the years. In this post she wrote just for us, Karen shares her best tips for getting started in scent games.

Karen and scent dog Tripawd Elly
Karen and scent dog Tripawd Elly

How to Get Started with Scent Games for Tripawds

Scent games are a great way to challenge your dog without too much stress on the body. An easy way to teach your dog to search for something is the “find a treat game.”

There are a wide variety of scent games you can play with your dog but the basic premise is the same: find an odor, get a reward.

Play Find a Treat with Your Dog

Honorary Tripawd Nellie plays Find a Treat.
Nellie plays Find a Treat.

In the Find a Treat game the dog rewards themselves by finding and eating the treat.

One way to start is to collect a bunch of boxes.

  • You can also use Tupperware or plastic bins. I’ve even used paper cups.
  • Make sure they are size appropriate for your dog.

Keep the boxes open.

  • This is so your dog can easily access them to find and eat the treat.

First use one or two boxes and place them near your dog.

  • Let them watch while you toss a treat in. Then let them get it.
  • Do a few repetitions then increase the distance between the boxes and your dog. When your dog has the idea then have them at a distance (across the room).

Let them watch while you lay out 10 or so boxes. Then put a treat in one or two of the boxes and let your dog start searching.

Make ‘Find a Great’ More Challenging

Nellie plays Scent Games for Tripawds
Nellie is curious about the box.

Once your dog gets the idea to look in boxes for treats then increase the challenge.

  • Lay out the boxes and hide treats with your dog in another room so they will search ‘blind.’

As your dog gains confidence and proficiency you can continue to increase the difficulty of the search. Put some of the boxes behind a piece of furniture or play in different rooms.

The next step would be to teach your dog to search just for treats.

  • Start by putting some treats outside the box but near, then a little farther away from the box, then hide a treat without a box. If your dog struggles with finding the treats then reintroduce the box.

Other Ways to Create Scent Games for Tripawds with Boxes

Honorary Tripawd Nellie sniffs for the treat.
Nellie sniffs for the treat.

The advantage of using boxes to start is that they provide context for your dog. See a box, look for a treat!

With this basic skill you can go in lots of different directions to make the scent game more complex.

  • You can set up searches outside, you should start on a deck or patio so the smells from the environment are not too overwhelming.
  • Build puzzles for your dog to solve. Start with simple things like a treat behind a door or build a box tunnel with the treat inside.
  • Build more complex puzzles. Create mazes by using ex-pens, chairs, pillows or big boxes. Be creative and challenge your dog.

Pro Tip: Go Slow with Scent Games

Don’t to progress to fast. Make sure your dog has a strong understanding of the game before you introduce challenges.

If you find your dog getting frustrated or struggling to find the treats then take a step back. Make the puzzle simpler or the hid easier to find.

You can always bring back boxes to rebuild confidence.

Always end the play session with a fun victory for your dog so they want to play again.

Check out more articles about interactive brain games for Tripawds!
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