Scent Based Cues

Discussion in 'Advanced Dog Training' started by kassidybc, Jan 4, 2014.

  1. kassidybc Experienced Member

    Ok, so I had an idea. Most dogs (maybe not all) respond better to visual cues than verbal cues. Well, what sense is better than both of those? Scent. I had the idea of using a scent as a cue. Obviously this would not be convenient for a trick, but it could be helpful for dogs who need to be calm in certain situations, for example. You could light a candle (or have something else that emits a smell that you can control) and whenever you have that specific smell "activated" reward the dog for calmness (or whatever other trait you want). Continue to reward the dog for calmness, but stop rewarding for calmness when you stop the smell. Eventually, you could have it at the point where if you knew your dog was going to be in a stressful situation, or in a situation where they usually get really excited but you want them to be calm, you could start the scent and (hopefully) they would be calm the whole time you had the scent activated (you would still periodically reward them for calmness of course) and then when the stressful or exciting situation is over, you could stop the smell, and they would know it was ok to stop being calm now. What do you guys think? Could this work? Do you have any thing you would change or anything to add? Does anyone have any ideas as to what you could use to create a smell? (A candle would be a little inconvenient and unreliable)

  2. jackienmutts Honored Member

    While in theory that sounds like a great idea, remember that dogs will continue to smell things long after the source of the odor is removed. Scent travels all over the place, into places we couldn't imagine. As for smells to calm a dog, DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) collars are sold and used now for that very purpose. If you just wanted to calm your dog in stressful situations, you could try one of the DAP collars, or find a calming herbal scent and try a few drops on a bandana and put it on the dog's neck and see if it worked. Remember, their sense of smell is SO much greater than ours, so only a tiny bit is more than enough - not nearly what we may need.
    brodys_mom and kassidybc like this.
  3. kassidybc Experienced Member

    Oh yeah, I was not thinking about how the smell would linger. Oops. :p I'm trying to find a way to calm down my friend's dog during agility, she gets so excited that she ends up knocking the bars down, and so they never qualify. Her owner thinks if she could get the dog to calm down, she might be able to get over the jumps easier (we're pretty sure she's knocking them down because she's so excited, because she does fine when they practice at home, but as soon as the get in a trial situation she gets really excited and knocks all the bars down because she takes off too early). Do you think a DAP collar would help in this instance?
  4. sara Moderator

    Actually, people with deaf and blind dogs do this all the time, and I have used scent cues with a couple of Mouse's tricks. It's amazing how creative people with diff-abled dogs are. People will put a specific oil scent near stairs and other dangerous areas, and another scent near good areas.

    Mouse's main trick with scent is: I marked two hardcover books with different scents, one she's supposed to stand on and say yes (nod head) then read (flip through the pages) the other she stands on and says no. I put a spritz of cheap body spray under the cover. It lasts a long time.

    There are likely alot more things I could use scent for, but I haven't thought them up yet! Lol
    kassidybc and southerngirl like this.
  5. kassidybc Experienced Member

    That's a great idea with the book trick! That sounds really cute! :)
  6. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I was doing a little reading about DAP after reading your post. Did you ever use it for Makena? I am thinking about trying it with Brody for when we have guests coming to stay. I know it is useful for things like thunder storms and hunting season, but does it lower the dog's threshold enough to help them handle everyday situations better?

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