We don’t usually don’t use our dogs food for training, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use it in fun and enriching ways other than just dumping it in their food bowl.
Scattering the dog’s food across the ground. The dog gets to engage his olfactory system as he tracks down each individual piece of food.
Scatter Feeding can be done indoors, on the lawn or when out and about. Short grass works well as it hides each food piece, increasing the need to engage the nose to sniff them out.
Putting it on cue (“Search”), can avoid the dog to generalise that all food on the ground is fair game.
You can start of by a small square and eventually spread it out over the whole garden or area available for use.
Finding the right and appropriate chew for your dog allows for potentially hours of entertainment. As a bonus they are beneficial to maintain healthy gum and teeth.
Raw meaty Bones (no weight-bearing bones)
Here are a couple of suppliers we personally use:
Laila & Me
A snuffle mat is made out of fleece straps that are connected to a rubber mat. The space between the fleece straps provide the perfect hiding spots for your dog’s treats.
Starting off by just sprinkling them on the surface and then as your dog enjoys the task using your fingers to move them more into the fleece straps. This allows for more engagement of their olfactory system.
Supervising the activity to avoid your dog destroying or digesting the fleece straps is recommended. After the activity putting the snuffle mat away will also make this a very clear activity that doesn’t need a verbal cue.
This is one of the many suppliers out there.
* Let the dog see you put a treat down on the floor and use your cue “search” before you allow her to get it. She doesn’t need to know what the word means yet, but as long as it comes before she moves toward the treat, she’ll soon learn that this word means, look for treats.
* Now start putting the treat where she can’t actually see it, but she can see where you are putting it. For example, you could have a cushion on the floor and place a treat just to the far side of the cushion. Remember to use the cue word.
* Start to place the treat at times she can’t see you doing it. Then give the cue word.
* Very slowly make the game more challenging by finding new places to hide the food. It should always be where she can access it. If you want to hide treats in more than one place, start at the beginning again and let her see there is more than one location with treats. Maybe use two or three cushions on the floor and have treats behind each.
* Use your “done” cue once all treats have been found. They soon learn that no more are to be found and they can relax.