Find it!

After many months of medical procedures and recovery, Joanie is getting her spunk back as she continues to feel better every day.  While walks are great to tire her out, she can only handle so much physical activity – so she needs another outlet for her energy.  From the three days I’ve had her, I’ve found that Joanie really benefits from using her nose to exercise her brain and wear her out (like all dogs!).

The easiest and most fun way for us to do some informal nose work is playing “Find it!” in the backyard. Using string cheese, I throw little pieces all over the yard and send her sniffing after them. I try to put them in a pattern so that she can find her way to the next one (she’s got a good sniffer, but it’s not that good if the treat is too far away). Because she has to root through the grass a bit, it’s not a super easy find and usually takes some effort – which is great since I want her to work those brain muscles!

We even tried a few times where I was up on the deck and she was down in the yard. The string cheese is bright white so she can see sort of where I throw it, and the rest is up to her nose.  This also helps to get her down the stairs to the yard without me taking her down there. She’s not really needy, but she doesn’t particularly care to venture down on her own – which is sort of inconvenient when you’re a lazy FosterMom!

“Find it!” is a great game. Ten or fifteen minutes of this is equally as tiring as probably a thirty minute walk. The thing about physical exercise versus mental is that when we’re done with a walk, Joanie’s brain is still ready to go. She still wants to sniff and investigate everything. But after a walk and some nose work, she’s out for the count.

It’s been fun learning what helps Joanie relax around us and what she needs to keep her happy. Watching a dog settle down right before your eyes is really rewarding, especially when you’re not sure they’re going to get there initially (more about that later).  Joanie is just another perfect example of how enrichment can be helpful for any dog!

14 thoughts on “Find it!

  1. Tara

    Thank you for this post! We have a very energentiv foster right now and we are not always a very energetic household after a long day at work..not to mention our own dog is low energy so doesn’t require a lot. I am definitely giving this a try today!

    • Karen

      Ditto to what Tara said- almost exactly! On the days that I can’t take our foster for a run, this is exactly the kind of thing we need to do. Thanks!

  2. When I was dogsitting for a multi-dog household, this was a lifesaver! I called it a scavenger hunt, and combined kibble with liver treats and cubes of cheese in a tupperware, and then scattered it all over the yard. It was especially good to keep the dogs from constantly wrestling and possibly going a bit ‘over threshold’ in that regard. I’m loving Ms. Joanie!

  3. I love “find it,” which has been one of my go-to tools, especially if Ray gets too focused on something that is better left alone or if I just need to redirect his attention.

  4. cj

    What a great idea!! I’m going to try it with Rose, my deaf pit bull type dog (insert wink here) Another “diamond in the rough” so that Finn, my chocolate chunk can fetch the ball without Rose taking it away from him. Yeah, she does that. He gets kudos for putting up with her shenanigans!

  5. I love this! After your “Enrichment” post a few weeks ago, I researched some Nosework Classes around the Baltimore area and enrolled in the class at Coventry School for Dogs. We had our first class on Tuesday, and it went great! Last night, we practiced at home by putting string cheese in various boxes on the floor for Addie. After a few rounds, Addie was so tired and went straight to her crate and slept. The instructor said that Nosework is such a great mental and tiring activity for dogs — I love it! Thanks for sharing.

    • Yayy! I’m so happy you looked into it and found a class! And that Addie responds so well! It is like the unknown gem of the dog world.. if more people used it, there would be soo many more happy dogs. Great work Harper!

  6. I’ve heard great things about “nosework” for dogs, but I’ve been hesitant to try it with my two. They already sniff around all the time for treats or pieces of food we might have dropped, and I’m afraid of encouraging them to snuffle around in our carpet.

    Is there a way to turn off the sniffer when you’re not doing nosework?

  7. Teresa

    What a great idea! I’m going to try that out today. I’m going to work out in the garden and to keep Foz preoccupied (instead of digging up my flowers) I’ll do the “find the cheese”. Thanks for this post I never know what to keep him occupied sometimes and this is it. Thanks!

  8. I have enjoyed reading your posts about enrichment activities. They have been so helpful to us as we learn how to manage Athena’s crazy energy! We will be trying some of this nose work at our house soon =)

  9. Great idea! Kaya was a bottomless pit of energy when she was a puppy and I found that doing 15 minutes of training at night would really wear her out:) Now she loves to find her ball when I throw it and she’s not looking.

  10. Pingback: YOUR weekend with Joanie | Peace, Love, & Fostering

  11. Pingback: Seeking is Fatiguing! | Peace, Love, & Fostering

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