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A detection dog, otherwise known as a sniffer dog, is a canine that is specially trained to use sense, particularly scent, to detect a variety of items and substances such as illegal drugs, contraband electronics, explosives, blood, wildlife scat and currency, among others. Search and rescue and police dogs are considered detection dogs in some instances, specifically when they are being used for activities such as locating hidden currency, finding missing people and carrying out drug raids. While detection dogs are mainly used for law enforcement, they also serve other purposes. At present, these canines have become significant in the medical industry. Studies revealed that detection dogs are able to identify certain scents that are associated with a number of conditions, such as diabetes and cancer. They have also become key research instruments in wildlife biology because of their ability to locate a certain number of animal species.
Detection dogs are purposely trained to use their senses to find or locate items. Therefore, when thinking of activities for a detection dog, you automatically think of games that will stimulate and put your dog’s sense of smell to the test. Perhaps the simplest of all nose work games that you can play with your detection dog is the “Which hand?” game. This game is an easy but effective way to get your pooch to use their scent instead of their sight. Another advantage of playing this game is that you do not need any special items or toys; all you need are your hands and a couple of your dog’s favorite treats and you are good to go.
There are lots of easy nose work games that you can play with your detection dog. What makes things better is that most of these games are free, simple to play and require little effort on your part. Another easy nose work game that helps test your dog’s sense of smell is the “shell game”. Building upon the “which hand?” game, the shell game makes use of cups instead of your hands. The objective is to determine which cups have treats hidden underneath them. The more cups you use in the game, the more it gets difficult because your dog suddenly has more options to choose from.
Although some nose work games are simple, there are some that require more effort and can be more thought-provoking for your detection dog. An example of a more challenging game that your pooch can play is “lights out”. This game is very similar to the traditional scavenger hunt or “find the treat” game but with the added factor of playing in the dark. This activity will truly put your dog’s scent-tracking abilities to the test, particularly since they will not be able to use their sight for assistance. Not only is it fun, but it can also help sharpen your dog’s overall search and detection skills.
Another game that tests your dog’s senses, hide and seek is a classic game that your dog will truly enjoy. While your pooch is distracted, hide somewhere that your dog would not expect you to be in, such as under your bed or inside the closet. While hiding, simply wait until your dog starts looking for you. In case they take too long, you may call out their name lightly or make a sound such as a whistle. Don’t make too loud of a noise because you want your detection dog to use their scent to find you. Once your pooch finds you, give a treat as a reward.