How to Train Your Dog to Find Truffles

Hard
6-12 Months
Work

Introduction

Truffles only grow in certain areas and can be a very lucrative business if you decide to be a truffle hunter. Though fungi may be easy to find in your area, truffles are sometimes elusive, hidden underground, near certain trees, and in areas that are not enticing to explore. Truffles have a powerful, distinct scent and are delicious for both dogs and people. Truffle hunting is something you can do with your dog and create an exciting business venture together. Imagine the bond you will have when your dog finds such an exciting product and helps you to make money! Truffles do not always grow in the same area twice so they can be challenging to find. However, teaching your dog to find truffles is not an incredibly difficult thing to do. And it is something the two of you can do together to grow, bond, and build a profitable business.


Defining Tasks

If you are looking to train a truffle dog, consider starting early when your dog is a puppy. If you can include the puppy’s nursing mother in your truffle training, all the better for your pup. Truffle hunting becomes a lifetime training for most dogs who work hard to find truffles. You could potentially train any dog to find a truffle, but it might be easier to train a puppy and to train a hound who likes to have his nose to the ground. While your dog is training, you will need to have access to truffle oil so he can get used to the strong scent of truffles. It is extremely common for truffle hunt dogs to have nursed with truffle oil on their mother's teats as newborns. Be prepared with patience, time to hunt with your dog, and energy to put into training your dog to find truffles. This will require persistence as your puppy grows into a truffle-hunting dog.

Getting Started

To get started you are going to need some treats, truffles or at least truffle oil, cotton balls, and a ball, stuffed toy, or sock you can cut into and re-stitch to hide bread or cotton balls soaked in truffle oil to entice your dog. You will also need time and patience to allow your puppy to grow into a dog who is familiar with the scent of truffles and the journey of the hunt.

The Puppy Method

ribbon-method-1
Most Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Nursing
Apply truffle oil on a nursing mother’s teats to introduce the scent to puppies.
Step
2
Toys
When the puppy is finished nursing and a bit older, use a ball you can safely hide truffle oil-soaked cotton balls or bread inside and play fetch with your dog.
Step
3
Play
Toss the ball and reward him each time he brings the ball back to you.
Step
4
Repeat
Practice this until your dog can bring the ball back to you without coaxing.
Step
5
Challenge
Start hiding the ball with the truffle oil scent and ask your dog to find it. Reward each time he succeeds.
Step
6
Bury
Once he masters finding the hidden ball, begin burying the ball.
Step
7
Dig
Your dog should start digging for the ball when you ask him to find it.
Step
8
Truffles
Once he has this mastered, bury small pieces of truffle and ask him to find the truffles.
Step
9
Hunt
After this training, your dog should be ready to go out truffle hunting.
Recommend training method?

The Sock Method

ribbon-method-3
Effective
1 Vote
Step
1
Introduce scent
Begin as soon as possible by introducing the scent of truffles.
Step
2
While nursing
Put truffle oil on a mother’s teats when puppies are nursing or on cotton balls inside a sock your pup can play with while training.
Step
3
Bond
Let your dog sleep with and play with a stuffed toy or stuffed sock with a hidden truffle or scented cotton ball inside.
Step
4
Hide
As your dog bonds with the toy, begin to hide it and ask him to find it.
Step
5
Reward
Reward your dog each time he is successful and finds his toy with the truffle or truffle oil-soaked cotton ball hidden inside.
Step
6
Repeat
Do this for several weeks before asking your dog to find truffles outside and taking him truffle hunting.
Step
7
Hunt and reward
Each time he finds a truffle, be sure to reward him.
Recommend training method?

The Find Method

ribbon-method-2
Least Recommended
2 Votes
Step
1
Introduce
Show your dog a truffle and let him sniff to learn the scent. If you do not have a truffle handy, you can use a cotton ball soaked in truffle oil. Keep these cotton balls in a glass jar to keep the scent fresh and easily accessible.
Step
2
Find
Once he starts to show interest in sniffing more, use the keyword, ‘find.’
Step
3
Hunt
Take him to an area where truffles grow and let him sniff the truffle or oil infused cotton ball and repeat the command, ‘find.’
Step
4
Stay close
While in training, you may want to keep your dog on a leash so you can control where he goes and how he behaves. Otherwise, stay near him and wait for him to dig or sniff incessantly.
Step
5
Reward
Once you have an area to dig, reward your dog.
Step
6
Repeat
Repeat these steps each time you would like to find a new area to search for truffles.
Recommend training method?
author-img

Written by Amy Caldwell

Published: 12/26/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Copper
Treeing Walker Coonhound
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Copper
Treeing Walker Coonhound
3 Years

Copper (male fixed) loves to walk but when we see a person on the walk he barks & pulls hard at harness/leash. He us much worse when with my daughters dog (female spayed) and seems to get into a backing frenzy. Initially a spray citronella collar worked but no longer stops him.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1129 Dog owners recommended

Hello Pam, I suggest working on the structure of your walk first. You want pup to be working during the walk - having to stay behind you, focus on you, perform commands periodically, and not have his mind on scanning the area in search of others. The walk should start with him having to exit your home very calmly, performing obedience commands at the door if he isn't calm. He should wait for permission ("Okay" or "Free" or "Let's Go") before going through the door instead of bolting through if that's an issue. When you walk he should be in the heel position - with his head behind your leg. That position decreases his arousal, reduces stress because he isn't the one in charge and the one encountering things first. It prevents him from scanning for others, staring down, and ignoring you behind him. It also requires him to be in a more submissive, structured, focused, calmer mindset - which has a direct effect on how aroused, stressed, and aggressive he is - it makes him feel like the responsibility is on your shoulders not his around others. Additionally, when you do pass others, as soon as he starts staring them down, interrupt him. Don't tolerate challenging stares. If pup has ever redirected aggression toward you while aroused, I would start by desensitizing pup to wearing a basket muzzle, so the muzzle can be used to keep you safe while working through the training. Remind him with a gentle correction that you are leading the walk and he is not allowed to break his heel or stare another down. It is far easier to deal with reactivity when you interrupt a dog early in the process - before they are highly aroused and full of adrenaline and cortisol, and to keep the dog in a less aroused/calmer state to begin with. This also makes the walk more pleasant for him in the long-run. Leading the walk this way can actually boost a dog's confidence in the long run around others because the dog feels like you will handle the situation so they can relax. Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Reactive dog - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XY8s_MlqDNE Severely aggressive dog – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfiDe0GNnLQ&t=259s Outside of the walk you can work on building pup's trust and respect for you in other ways too to help his confidence. The following commands and exercises are also good for that: Agility/obstacles for building confidence if nervous in general: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elvtxiDW6g0 Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Any tricks that challenge him mentally, require impulse control, and equal him learning new things successfully. A long down stay around distractions is a good thing to practice during walks periodically. A good way to do introductions with other is to recruit friends and use the Passing Approach and the Walking together methods from the article linked below, practicing passing a person over and over again and rewarding calm responses from pup. After a few practice session of this, when he can walk calmly side by side with the person finally, go on walks together with pup in a structured, focused heel. If pup is a bite risk with another person, a basket muzzle should be used and enough distance to keep the other person safe while walking kept. Pup's tools should also be ones that allow you to safely control pup during the walk and pup not be able to slip a collar or pull you over to someone. Repeat this with lots of different dogs and people, one or two at a time. https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs When he greets people, take safety measures like a leash or basket muzzle that he has been desensitized to ahead of time, and you can also have the other person toss him treats when he is being calm from a distance he is comfortable with. When he is okay with people approaching with lots of practice, then gradually decrease the distance between pup and the person during greetings as he improves. Once he can handle the person being close consistently and respond calmly, have the person give him commands, like Sit, and reward pup's obedience by tossing the treat at pup's paws to increase trust and communication. Finally, when he isn't a bite risk anymore, and is interested in being petting by those he is more comfortable with, have the person briefly pet while feeding a treat at the same time, to desensitize him to being touched by others as well. Again, safety measures need to be taken into consideration and the training moved through gradually, the speed being based on how pup is responding to it, to avoid a bite risk for anyone involved. Ideally a training staff with a trainer you are working with, could help with this part of the training also. Check out this video by Jeff Gellman, who specializes in aggression. Here he demonstrated safety measures (a back tie), when to have people reward a dog (during calmness and not during aggressive displays), and how to appropriately use punishment when treating aggression (with good timing, calmness, and in combination with positive reinforcement for calm behavior and with the appropriate safety measures for your guests). Aggression video: https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A For all of this training, I do recommend working in person with a training group that specializes in behavior issues like aggression and reactivity, has multiple trainers on staff to desensitize pup to numerous "strangers" who know how to interact with pup, and will do at least part of the training at your home or locations where pup tends to be reactive at. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Copper's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Buddy
Mini foxy cross jack russell
5 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Buddy
Mini foxy cross jack russell
5 Months

I have a very intelligent puppy that’s always looking for action.
How should I train him to search for truffles, he loves to dig up grass in the yard..

Add a comment to Buddy's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Bogi
Hungarian Vizsla
9 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bogi
Hungarian Vizsla
9 Months

Hi, about the article I should start training at an early age, when my dog is a puppy. Is it possible to success with the training if I start it now when she’s almost 10 months old?Thanks

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1129 Dog owners recommended

Hello Gabriella, If your dog has been well socialized so that she is not afraid of being in the terrain you will be searching for. If she has a good nose and has displayed an ability to detect things by smell well already, then you can very likely begin training at an older age without issues. You will just need to take the extra time to teach her how to use her nose through things like scent games. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Bogi's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Mrvica
Beagle
6 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Mrvica
Beagle
6 Months

So i use truffle oil that doesn't contain truffle. Is that oil good for training? Greetings from Serbia.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1129 Dog owners recommended

Hello Stefani, As long as it was actually extracted from a real truffle (and not some imitation flavor) it will likely work. The scent may just not be as strong, making the training a bit harder at first. If you sniff it and it has a scent at all your dog should certainly be able to detect the scent even better. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Mrvica's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Success
Cesamo
Lagotto Romagnolo
3 Years

I have been training Cesamo with Truffle oil, it was quite hard moving to real truffles but we managed. Still difficult to keep him concentrated, prefers rabbit droppings to truffles unfortunately.

2 years, 5 months ago
Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd