Searching for food or toys not only teaches them to use their nose as well as their eyes, but begins the training process of them learning to wait ‘for good things to happen’. You can practice your ‘wait or stay’ while you go about hiding food or toys and your lovely puppy is being taught some self-control too. A very useful skill for puppies!
So, to get him started, he can be in the same room as you and you can hide some smelly treats in an empty toilet roll holder or a furry pencil case. Show him what you are doing so he realises that the treats are hidden inside. However, he must not move whilst you hide the item, as that is ‘cheating’, so if your puppy needs support to remain in one position ask a friend or family member to help while he is learning. Puppies learn fun tasks like this one especially quickly! I like to use a release cue to begin the search such as ‘search’ or ‘find’ or a simple ‘free’ will do too but you might need to give him lots of encouragement as he learns what to do. Try as hard as you can to let him find it on his own and when he does, open it and give him the scrummy contents. When you think he gets the game, you can begin to hide it in another room or outside. A great addition to the game is pretending to hide it in one place but put it in another, and he will learn to really use his nose! This mind game works super well on a rainy day or in the garden where there are lots of hiding places and competing smells!