Scent Work 2-4 Intro To Hunting Games 3 & 4

Here are the next two games for hunting! Now we will be adding some more challenges by adding more containers to the search. You can play the games in any order.


  • Tin with fresh qtips inside
  • 1 hot plastic container with venting holes in lid
  • 2-3 cold containers

Game 3: Shell game with more choices

We are going to introduce the idea that there might be more than a simple choice with 1 box or between identical or different kinds of containers. We will start with 2 boxes and then quickly move to 3 or 4 boxes. The reason we want to quickly move away from 2 boxes is to ensure the dog just isn’t getting lucky with a 50/50 chance! More choices will make them work a little harder and convince us they ARE making a choice.

We will start with playing the shell game, where we are working on hunting, staying at source and getting lots of searching/reinforcement in during a short perirod of time (high rate of reinforcement). It works like a shell game where you have someting hidden under one “shell” and move them around and you have to guess where the item is. In our case, the dog is searching for the new location of source.

Here’s a video of the “shell game” – using 2 containers:Game 3 – Shell Game with 2 containers

Here’s another video where Asha plays the shell game with 3 and 4 containers. Shell Game 3 and 4 Containers

Game 4: Mini search setup

  1. Have your dog out of the search area.
  2. Have treats available on you.
  3. Place tin in your designated HOT container.
  4. Place the hot and cold containers in a line or grouping at least 2 feet apart.
  5. Bring your dog into the work area. You don’t have to add a search cue yet, but it would be ok to start adding one now. The context of the boxes will be an environmental cue also.
  6. Most dogs will immediately check out the boxes – this is the first step of “hunting”.
  7. Give your dog a moment to discover the boxes. Immediately reward your dog for investigating the source (“hot”) box.
  8. Note: th
  9. Feed liberally and immediately on top of/near container. You can use this time to feed longer than it took to find source!
  10. You can pick up the hot container and place it back on the floor (in the same spot or different spot) to “reset” the dog and repeat the exercise. Soon you’ll barely be able to get it to the floor before the dog will be on top of it.

Does your dog really know why they are getting reinforced (due to odor)? Or are they getting “lucky”? At this point, we don’t know since they just started. Our job is to give them reinforcement for finding the right one if even by accident.  This builds the reinforcement history at source/odor so it doesn’t take long for them to understand “odor pays”.

Short video of Asha doing a mini search setup using 3 mixed containers. Game 4 Mini Search – mixed containers

Here’s a video doing a Mini Search with one odd cold container, the rest match. Game 4 – mini search with mostly matching containers


Use the rest of week 2 to move at your dog’s pace when introducing these games. Be prepared for your dog to try and “call you in” on the wrong box – what we call a “false alert”. Make sure to read the False Alert lecture on handling this scenario. We want to respond every time they call us in – right or wrong. We only pay if they found the right one. The idea is we never want the dog to think we know where it is. So go check out the box in either case and they will learn that only odor pays!

A note about duration … don’t push too much on a long duration. Start looking for a change in behavior that your dog does at odor and MARK that and then go in to reward. Start moving away from immediate marking as they may not have settled yet on odor, but don’t ask for more than ~1 second for these games.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s