Most people have been going through a difficult and challenging time these past few months. Humans are staying home more, and some of their pets may be confused by it. Many animal owners are getting out more to exercise with their pets, but what about trying something new to work not only you pup’s body, but also their minds?

Nose work is a fun enrichment activity in which animals get to explore the world through their sense of smell!

This activity does not require expensive equipment or fancy toys; all the supplies can be found at home. All that needs to be done is to gather up cardboard boxes from recent deliveries and get ready for your dog to have a blast!

The dogs at the shelter enjoy searching through the boxes that are scattered around the room in search of hot dogs and cheese, as the first step of mastering nose work. In order to teach the dogs the concept of nose work, we start off by putting small pieces of hotdogs and cheese (or something the pup thinks is delicious) in all the boxes used for the nose work session.

Once they get the idea of looking for the smelly treats, we make the game more challenging by hiding fewer treats and having more empty boxes.

To up our nose work game, we eventually swap out treats for an animal-friendly scent that the dogs need to search the boxes for. This could be a prey scent or an animal-friendly essential oil. Once they find the box that has the target-scent, they get lots of praise and a yummy treat.

Nose work is a great bonding experience between human and animal. For the dogs at the shelter, this activity provides a much-needed break from the kennel environment. We get to see the dog’s confidence blossom and their stress melt away when they have the chance to engage their senses and follow their noses!