Lesson 3 of 23
In Progress

Getting the scent ‘up the nose’

Getting the Scent ‘up the Nose’ 

Summary: We feed the dog over the target scent so that they build a strong, positive association with it. We are adding value to the target scent. 


  • 2 stackable bowls – holes drilled into one
  • Scented cotton wool pad

Method – step 1 

  1. Place a scented cotton wool pad between the two pots
  2. Drop a treat into the top pot and allow the dog to eat x10 
  3. Now start dropping treats in there one after the other. While dog’s nose is down eating one treat, drop another one in. The dog will start to think ‘Ah, ok, when my nose is down I get a treat!’ This will encourage them to return to the nose-down position. 
  4. Give your dog a break and then begin to move around the room so that the visual picture is not always the same.

What’s happening in our dog’s brain?

The dog eats treats from an area that smells of the target scent and builds up a recognition or liking of the scent. This creates a positive association with not just the scent but with our training session as a whole.

Method – step 2 

  1. Now, we present the bowls as before but we wait for the nose to go in before dropping in the treat. This really encourages them to get a nose full of the scent before the treat comes into the picture 

What’s happening in our dog’s brain?

‘I must smell the target scent before I get a reward.’ 

Next, repeat step 2 from above but with the addition of the clicker –

  1. Present the bowls as before and wait for the nose to go in.
  2. Click
  3. Reward within 2 seconds of the click 
  4. Repeat

Can we begin to build the amount of time our dog keeps their nose over the bowl before we click and reward? 3 seconds? 5 seconds? 

Top tips

Don’t practice food/toy searches and scent identification in the same session – keep them separate. 

Give your dog plenty of breaks as it can be very tiring for the brain and nose! Ensure there is always a bowl of water nearby. 

Keep sessions short. Three minutes several times a day is ideal.

Until next time – happy sniffing!