Monday, December 17, 2012

Sniffing for Kibble

It was only a couple of months ago that we said goodbye to Athena's food bowl and opted to feed her meals in food dispensing toys such as the Contempo TessaKongJW Hol-ee Roller X Extreme, Kong Wobbler, StarMark Bob-a-Lot, and the Busy Buddy Magic Mushroom.

Not only have we incorporated food dispensing toys as a form of everyday mental stimulation, but we also engage Athena in many other activities that mentally exhaust her such as:

  • Short at-home training sessions
  • Walks around the neighborhood
  • Car rides
  • Trips to the pet store
  • Obedience classes
  • Scent games

One mentally stimulating scent game that Athena particularly enjoys is 'Find It' which we play indoors on rainy days, in the yard, and at the park.  I begin by putting Athena in a down-stay and ask her to 'wait.'  I then walk around the room (or outside) and hide pieces of kibble (and other delicious treats) in corners, under chairs, on top of short pieces of furniture, and in the grass.  Athena is released from her down-stay with the 'find it' command and she is on her way sniffing to find each piece of kibble.

'Finding' her kibble

Because this scent game requires Athena to use so much nose power, she gets a very large mental workout.  Even after she has found all of the hidden kibble, Athena will continue to sniff around the house or yard in search of any leftover food that she may have missed.  This game keeps her occupied for quite a while.  Our next step is to advance the 'Find It' game and incorporate some scent identification.

Looking for leftover kibble

We are obviously not the first to discover the many advantages of using scent games as a form of mental stimulation.  Here are some of our favorite posts and videos that give examples of different types of scent work:

Find It! from Peace, Love, & Fostering
Sara Lee Find It from Animal Farm Foundation
Nose Work Games from Center for Shelter Dogs

Do you play any scent games with your dog or incorporate nose work into their daily routine?  What other ways do you provide your dog with mental stimulation?


  1. Funny that you mention this now...

    Over the weekend, I stepped in some, um, "doggy doo". I wanted to clean off my shoe before I went back inside, but Badger and Mushroom kept trying to sniff it. So I took some of their kibble that I was using as treats during the walk and threw it in the grass for them to "find it". This bought me the necessary time to finish up.

  2. We just signed Nola up for a 'noseworks' class. I hope she likes it as much as Athena seems to!

  3. 'Find it' has saved my sanity on many a rainy day when Melvin won't stay out for long walks! Also, I'm obsessed with that lovely purple jacket!!!

  4. Elli and I are training for competitive nose work; I post about it pretty regularly. She showed so much promise in the beginning stages (similar to the ones you've talked about here) that I decided to step it up and really work towards competition. To this day, it's one of her favorite activities. I'm hoping our first trial will be in March of next year!

  5. Miss M does Kong scavenger hunt when she is the only one left home, but I like the idea of moving it to more of a constructive scent workout. And more rainy day activities!

  6. Mom plays this game with me too! I just love is like an extra tasty treasure hunt :)

    I don't have a food bowl any more either. For a while it hid in the closet doing nothing. Then mom accidentally broke it...oh well, we don't need it :)

  7. Looks like fun! I'd try this but I'm not sure it would work in my tiny place with 2 dogs plus greedy cat. Actually, I can picture Gina getting all the kibble:) Kaya & Norman love to sniff around for god-knows-what on our hikes and if we just go on a walk, I always incorporate training to wear them out more. It works!