Sources and additional reading
We only use credible, science=based sources for our Discovery Kits, so you can rest assured that you and your dog are in good hands.
Here are a list of sources for the Smellscapes Discovery Kits:
Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horowitz. This was our primary source and is a joyful read that we highly recommend.
Dog Walks, Sniffing, Shaking, and Pulse Rate by Karen B. London, PhD
At the Heart of the Walk from Dog Field Study
Beating the Boredom Blues: Sniffing Out New Opportunities for Dogs by Sienna Taylor and John Binks
Seven Reasons to Use Reward-Based Dog Training Methods by Zazie Todd, PhD
Do Essential Oils Pass the Smell Test? by Sheldon Siporin, PhD
Nosework: Exhaust Your Dog and Teach Impulse Control (No Shoes Needed) by Kayla Fratt, CDBC
The Long LeashLearn more
Details: 12-foot-long, 1/2-inch-wide, BioThane leash with stainless steel clip from JB Paracord Designs in Rye, NH.
Care & Cautions: The Long Leash is waterproof, odor resistant, and abrasion resistant, so it's adventure ready. It is not chewproof, so store it out of your dog's reach and don't let them chew on it while in use.
Always stay focused and carefully manage the slack in the leash to avoid injuries to yourself, your dog, or others.
The Long Leash is sized to be light enough for small dogs but strong enough for large dogs, however it may not be strong enough for dogs over 60 pounds who pull aggressively.
Cleaning: Wash with soap and warm water. Scrub with a brush if needed.
The Snuffle MatLearn more
Details: 12" x 14" mat with rubber base and polyester fleece from The Waggly Hound in Boston, MA.
Care & Cautions: The Snuffle Mat is not chewproof. Supervise your dog during use and pick up the mat between uses. If your dog consistently chews on it, they likely haven't figured out how to use it yet and need the treats or food to be placed very accessibly on the top of the fleece.
Cleaning: Turn The Snuffle Mat over and shake to remove food pieces between meals. When needed, machine wash and hang dry.
The Scent Work Kit
Details: Smellproof mylar bag, 2 tinplate tins, plastic tweezers, cotton swabs, and organic birch essential oil assembled by Dogby in Boston, MA.
Care & Cautions: When using The Scent Work Kit, be very careful not to contaminate the various elements of the kit by letting the scented cotton swabs touch anything else. Always use the tweezers to pick up the cotton swabs and wash your hands after handling them.
Use 3 scented swabs per hide tin. The swabs should be replaced every 3-5 weeks.
The items in the kit are not chewproof and could pose a choking risk, so use only as instructed.
Cleaning: Use a solution of 3 parts water and 1 part vinegar to clean any scent contamination.
The Burrow ToyLearn more
Details: Fuzzy burrow with 3 critters with squeakers inside from ZippyPaws, Chino, CA
Care & Cautions: Monitor your dog to make sure they don't swallow any pieces of the burrow or the critters. The critters may be a swallow risk for larger dogs, so don't give them to dogs with a history of swallowing non-food objects or if you are unsure of what they will do. It's normal and expected for your dog to rip or shred stuffed animals. As they do so, remove any small pieces that might be a swallow risk.
Cleaning: Spot clean with soap and warm water.
The Stinky TreatsLearn more
Details: 4-ounce, chicken-recipe rolled dog food from Redbarn in Long Beach, CA. Click below for full ingredient list
Care & Cautions: Cut into pea-sized pieces to use as treats. Once opened, store any leftovers in the fridge and use within 2 weeks. The roll expires 18 months after it's date of production.
The Long Leash
Check out this article, specifically the Long Leash Handling Technique section that starts halfway down, for tips to reduce the risk of injury to yourself, your dog, and others.
More ways to use The Long Leash
- Training your dog to come when called
- Keeping them safe before they are ready for off leash freedom
- Giving them more autonomy on hikes
- Balancing safety and autonomy in unfenced yards, parks, and campsites
The Snuffle Mat & The Burrow Toy
Food puzzle safety
Food puzzles can bring out aggressive, possessive behavior in even the friendliest of dogs. It's a normal aspect of their behavior as the descendents of scavengers.
Follow these guidelines to keep your family safe:
- Use physical barriers like doors and baby gates to keep kids and other pets away while your dog is solving their food puzzle.
- Some dogs want complete privacy while solving a food puzzles, others will want you to in the room for companionship. Even so, avoid approaching them head on, getting between them and the puzzle, or touching it.
- Always pick up the puzzle and any uneaten food and treats when your dog finishes and before you let others back into the space.
- Never take a puzzle from your dog. Wait for them to walk away or offer them a trade by tossing a better treat a 4-6 feet away and seeing if they voluntarily give up the puzzle to go get it.
- If your dog gives you a stink eye, freezes, growls, or bares, their teeth while they have their puzzle, back up and give them space.
- Reach out to Dogby or a certified dog trainer in your area for help if you are concerned about your dog's behavior around food puzzles.
All about food puzzles
If you are new to food puzzles and want to learn more about them, this article can get you started.
More ways to use The Burrow Toy
- Swap the critters for balls, other favorite stuffed animals, or chew toys.
- Play tug with it so the critters or your dog's favorite balls fly out.
- Use the critters to practice catching different objects.
- Roll or crumple newspaper around treats to make small balls and stick them indie the burrow.
The Scent Work Kit
Tips to avoid scent contamination
- Use disposable gloves when handling the scented swabs and hides and throw the gloves out after each use.
- Prepare your hides in your bathroom.
- Store your scent work kit in your fridge so the odors can't escape easily.
What to do if your dog isn't searching for the scent
Your dog likely needs a more obvious visual clue to get started.
- Put your hide tins in a larger, open-top container like a cardboard box or plastic bin. Follow the steps with this change.
- After 5+ rounds, if/when your dog is going straight for the boxes, repeat the process but put the hide tins near the containers but not in them. The hides should be close to the large containers.
- After 5+ rounds, if/when your dog is finding the hides relatively quickly and not giving up, go back to the instructions in your Smellscapes Guide.
Next steps in the training plan
Before moving on, repeat the steps in your Smellscapes guide at least times, placing the hides in different but still easily visible spots each time to make sure your dog really understands the set up.
Now we are going to gradually wean your dog off finding the treats so they are detecting the scent alone.
1. When you put a treat on the hide, use one that is half the size of what you were using before. Still use pea-sized treats for rewards. Repeat 5+ times.
2. Put treats 1/4 the size of a pea on the hides while still using pea-sized treats for rewards. Repeat 5+ times.
3. Put the hides out with no treats at all. You may want to wash the tins first to make sure they don't have treat residue. This step might be tricky! If your dog is struggling, go back a step to give your dog more practice before trying again. If your dog is still struggling, repeat the last step but with a new set of scented swabs.
Congratulations to you and your newly minted detection dog!
Now it’s time for more challenging hides. Remember to repeat each new step 5+ times to make sure your dog gets a lot of practice before making it harder. When your dog gets stumped, go back to an easier step for extra practice before trying again. The fastest way forward is often to take a step back first!
1. Expand the search area by putting the hides along the wall, in the corner, or near the entrance. Keep everything in plain sight on the ground at this point!
2. Use hides of varying heights by putting your hides on or under tables, stools, sofa arms, or open cabinets or drawers. Just make sure they are within easy sniffing reach.
3. Partially obscure some of your hides by tucking them close to furniture or objects.
4. Experiment with new hide containers. Any clean container that fits the swabs will do! Many people use unfilled lip balm tubes, heat shrink tubing, or plastic vials. You can place up to 4 hides per search.
5. Try new rooms. Experiment with setting up your searches in different indoor spaces.
If you want more challenge look for Scent Work, Nose Work, or K9 NoseWork classes in your area. Depending on where you live, you might even be able to try truffle or conservation detection!