Easy Dog Behaviour With Simple Scentwork
It’s part of our culture to walk the dog and provide him one or two meals a day. That’s food and exercise – it’s how we meet a dog’s needs. Dogs need much more though, like us they need the right kind of physical exercise, proper mental stimulation, play, the chance to use their natural skills and the opportunity to practice natural behaviour. This is why when the busy natured dog has had a walk and meal, he’s often still looking for something to do.
Food will always motivate a dog. Eating keeps him alive and even the fussiest dogs get hungry. When we think a dog is not motivated by food, it’s usually because we haven’t yet learned how to use the right kind of food, in the right way, for motivation.
Scatter feeding is simple yet can use your dog’s scenting ability enough that he properly relaxes afterwards. Simply nd a food that your dog loves and scatter it around the home or garden, in tiny bits and at a reasonable portion and let him sniff out the food and eat it.
- Meets a dog's needs.
- Uses excess mental energy.
- Settles over arousal behaviour so the dog can really relax afterwards.
Many dogs love scatter feeding so much that they will ignore the bowl with food in but eat every last scattered scrap, engaging their mind and body simultaneously. This type of engagement will use up lots of excess energy and the dog is highly likely to settle afterwards.
If you suspect your dog isn’t going to get immediately stuck in, start with less food in a smaller area. Make it extra special to sniff, for example grated cheese or tiny bits of chopped meat and build from there.
Important note; use scatter feeding before or as the dog’s meal, rather than after their meal, as a full belly is not conducive to foraging. Remember also to avoid using too much extra food, or the dog will soon not be hungry and may even put on weight.
Foraging for food has been a main Mission for dogs for thousands of years. If we offer them their meals in a bowl all the time, even though they may love their food, we are creating a missed opportunity for them. Up to a third of their life pre- domestication would have been focussed on nding food, that’s a third of ‘empty time’ if we don’t allow them to continue using that skill.
As humans we like nothing better than a plate of tasty food in front of us, I grew up eating huge carbohydrate-based meals that stretched my young stomach way beyond its capacity time and again. This has resulted in disappointment of perfectly reasonable meal sizes for many years as an adult. Food is a pleasure, a social occurrence, both comforting and rewarding for us. We can easily project that to our dogs, gradually growing the size of that meal in their bowl, when in many cases they would really rather forage.
Alongside the opportunity to find their food, foraging is an excellent opportunity for the dog to use his amazing nose. The dog’s ability to detect scent puts our own to shame. Scenting tires them nicely, meets their needs and helps dogs to settle into quiet time.
So why not teach your dog some simple scentwork today?