Silly Human! A Dog's Nose Knows

The other day I was practicing fun nose work in my garden with Dune and Hugo. It was Dune’s turn and I’d hidden a single cotton swab infused with just a hint of birch oil along a fence line, near some tall grasses and Mexican sage plants.


I released Dune to search and he scanned the environment with his nose before even taking a step into the area. The wind was blowing and he didn’t catch the scent right away, I could tell because he didn’t turn immediately to the left, where the odor was hidden a mere five feet away, but instead veered slightly right to begin his perimeter search along the top rock wall. Halfway through his perimeter search he abandoned this strategy and made a beeline across the garden, heading straight for the source. He found it in less than 30 seconds. Good boy!


However, when he located the source, he pawed at it instead of just holding his nose there and waiting for me to come over and reward him as he usually does. I celebrated his find by rewarding him at source and then led him away from the odor so I could pick it up and move it for our next run. But no, the cotton swab was missing, he must of flung it somewhere with his paw when he alerted.


I put Dune in a “down” a fair way away from the hide and plopped myself down on the ground to search for it. I looked and looked but simply could not find it anywhere. How far could it possibly have gone? It was right here a second ago! I have to find it so I can hide it again! Then I paused, feeling foolish. It was ALREADY hidden. What was wrong with this picture?


After what must have been over a minute of searching I realized that I am not well suited to finding scented cotton swabs and perhaps I should bring the expert back in to locate the errant odor once again. Duh!


I released Dune from his “down” and cued him to find it. He casually walked over to me stuck his nose down to the ground about 4 inches from the original hiding place and held it there. Needless to say he found the missing cotton swab in mere seconds. This just goes to show that one should never send a human in to do a dog’s job! A dog’s nose knows.