K9 Nose Work – week 5

Week 5


  • Have your dog learn to search above the floor.
  • Continue to expand the search area.
  • Increase their drive and focus on the task.

Supplies You’ll Need:

  • Strong-smelling treats your dog will love. I’ve had success with salmon jerky, gorgonzola cheese, and baked liver.
  • A room with space to move. You’ll want to gradually increase the search area so an unfinished basement or large room is a good location.
  • Small household objects and furniture to place on the floor.


  • Move your dog to a room other than the one where you’ll be setting up the game. If your dog has separation anxiety and wouldn’t tolerate this well, try putting a baby gate across the door to keep him from interfering with your set up. You’ll just have to be trickier when it’s time to hide the treats.
  • If you have multiple pets, you’ll want to work one dog at a time. Find a secure place for your other pets while each dog is working.
  • “Decorate” the floor with common household objects–laundry baskets, blankets, stepladders, chairs–whatever you have around.
  • Hide treats slightly off the floor, perhaps on top of a low stool. Increase the height as our dog learns to sniff the air and not just the ground.
  • If your dog is watching you set up from behind a baby gate, “fake hide” treats and move around as if you’re hiding treats even when you aren’t.

Playing the Game:

By now your dog should understand you want her to find the treats when you give the cue. If he does not, go back to an earlier lesson.

  • Bring your dog to the entry way of the area where she’ll search.
  • Hold her gently by the collar before turning her loose to sniff the treat.
  • Tell your dog to “find it”  and step back.
  • As with previous weeks, if your dog looks to you for help, show her your empty hands and she should go back to searching.
  • Praise your dog when she finds and eats the hidden treats.
  • If your dog is successful at lifting her head to sniff treats at a higher level, continue to raise the treat higher off the floor. If not, continue hiding treats a short distance off the floor until your dog figures out how to lift her head to search.
  • You can also expand the search area if your dog is finding things very quickly.


Set aside time throughout the week to practice. As your dog learns to alternate between sniffing the ground and the air, increase the height where you hide things off the floor.

Eventually, you should be able to hide treats high enough that your dog has to jump up to get them.

Things You May See From Your Dog This Week

Your dog should start to become smarter about searching, sniffing both the air and the ground. You may also see

  • Smarter searching and less time in dead ends.
  • Less looking to you for help.
  • Greater speed in finding the treat.
  • A greater ability to follow a scent trail.

Ready to learn more? Find instructions for week 6 (the final tutorial) here.

K9 Nose Work Tutorial 5