Dodger and his blanket
Brad McMillan stars in Lucky Dog
Presented By
Lucky Dog

Why Your Dog’s Nose May Be The Key To Training Your Pup Successfully!

Dog Trainer Brandon McMillan demonstrates how positive scent association can be used to teach dogs desired behaviors, such as sleeping on a specific bed every night.

Did you know that your dog’s sense of smell is up to 100,000 times more acute than your own? Your dog is a natural-born smeller, and dogs enjoy sniffing for fun and rely on their nose to gain an understanding of the world around them. With this in mind, it only makes sense that expert animal trainers like Brandon McMillan rely on scent association to teach dogs new behaviors and commands. On this episode of “Lucky Dog,” Brandon teaches a sweet little dog named Dodger to follow his nose to go to bed each night. Watch how he does it in the video below! 

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While Dodger is meant to belong to both the kids in his new family, he will always be sleeping in Anthony’s room. By giving Dodger a positive association with a blanket that smells like Anthony, Dodger will have a much easier transition to sleeping on Anthony’s bed when he officially moves into the family home. All it took was a little bit of patience and lots of treats! Before long, wherever Anthony’s blanket went Dodger would go, too! 

If you’re wondering if you can use scent association to train your dog to do other tasks, you’ll be glad to know the options are really limitless! For example, you can expand on Brandon’s lesson with Dodger to teach your dog to settle or to go to bed in a different place. For example, people who have service dogs sometimes train their dogs to settle at their feet in public places or on airplanes, and the blanket can be a good way to create a positive foundation for this. Alternatively, using a blanket your dog learns to love through scent association can help teach your dog to go to his place or bed. For dogs that suffer from separation anxiety, using a blanket that smells like you could make them feel more comfortable and confident resting independently from you. We always recommend consulting with a certified dog trainer who can help you teach commands and encourage behaviors through scent association properly. 

But if you really want your dog to use his sniffer to the fullest, you can teach him to use it for work, pleasure, or sport. The superior smellers may have a fulfilling career ahead of them as a detection dog, working to sniff out illegal substances like drugs or explosives, or as a tracking dog that helps find missing people. But since not every dog will be cut out for the working life, you may prefer to pursue scent works classes for fun or participate in scent work sports competitions through the American Kennel Club. Either way, encouraging your dog to use his natural sense of smell is fun mental stimulation for your pup and will enhance the bond you share when you do it together.

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