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Sniffing Games for Your Dog’s Mental Exercise

Sniffing is such an important and natural behaviour for our dogs. That’s how they gather information, interact with their environment and communicate. Allowing our dogs to sniff and explore is one of the best mental exercises we can do to keep their brain sharp, prevent boredom, decrease hyper-activity and lower stress level. A mentally stimulated dog is a happy dog.

Did you know that a 20-minute sniff walk is much more enriching for our dogs than an hour’s speed march.

There are also many ‘sniffing’ activities we can do at home. I always say, ‘Give your pup a job to do to prevent unwanted behaviours.’ Here are some ‘sniffing’ games that I love to play with my lab Bowie.

Snuffle Mat
A snuffle mat is essentially a mat with fleece strips woven through and tied off to allow you to hide dog treats/dry food. It’s such a great and fun enrichment toy that encourages your pup to sniff and search for the hidden treats. Teach your dog a ‘Find-it’ or ‘Search’ command to sniff out the treats.

Image from Snuffle Mat

Scatter or hide your dog’s food/treats in, out and around the house
Create a scent hunt for your dog, as opposed to simply giving their food in a bowl for them to scoff down in a matter of seconds. You can also teach your pup to sniff out a particular item (non-food item). Go here for step-by-step demonstration on how to teach your dog to be a sniffer dog.

Puzzle Games & Toys
We love Nina Ottosson’s dog puzzle games and toys! But you can also make your own using used toilet paper roll, plastic bottle or milk jug, cardboard box, etc. There are plenty of creative DIY dog puzzle ideas online.

Happy Sniffing x