Dogs are happiest when they get to do what they were bred for. Basset Hounds are scent hounds, dogs that were bred to hunt by scent, over long distances and varying terrain. They are not fast, they are in it for the long haul, to tenaciously follow a scent even when the scent is old and compromised and the terrain is difficult to follow. Making a game of scenting so your Basset has a great outlet for his scenting abilities will build his confidence, stimulate him mentally and allow you to bond with your dog. When these basic needs are met, your dog will be easier to train for obedience and to develop desirable behaviors. Teaching your Basset to work with his nose can be fun for you and your dog, and great exercise for both of you too!
Your low-to-the-ground Basset Hound can follow a scent trail for hours with his nose to the ground, without straining his neck the way a taller dog might, making him ideally suited to following ground scent trails. You can allow your Basset to locate trails and follow scents to find the objects that made the trail or allow your dog to discover hidden scent objects. Your biggest challenge with your Basset will be keeping him from being distracted by other scents, as his powerful nose can be powerfully distracted. Limiting distractions during training and making scenting into a game with rewards for your foodie hound will help keep him on task. Your Basset can follow a pre-set trail or locate and follow a natural trail to its end and locate an object or game. Either way, his mind, senses, and body will get a workout, which will be great for his well-being, making him one happy dog.
Basset Hounds work for food. While many scent hounds and other hunting dogs may be motivated by toys, food is probably the most reliable way to train and reinforce your Basset. Try to work in controlled environments like indoors or in enclosed areas at first so you can direct your dog and control distractions. If your dog has good obedience commands and good recall prior to training scenting, you will have better luck directing your dog and keeping him on task. You may want to use game or commercially purchased scents to lay out scent trails, although smelly food can also be used. Be patient and happy scenting!