Winter or Rainy Day Dog Mental Exercise

What do you do in the winter or on rainy days to keep your pup happy?  Have you tried mental exercises?

For the past few years 4 of my dogs have been doing nosework during the winter months.  WOW it is such an awesome way to get them the mental exercise they need and can be done inside.  As an added bonus, if done in the evening after dinner they will sleep well.  And, yes, cut back on the amount you normally give for dinner to compensate for those high quality treats you will be giving during the search sessions.

I absolutely LOVE this new nosework practice wheel.  It was so easy to make and is easy to transport too.  Oh, p.s. it's not finished in this picture.  I still need to add velcro to the rest of the numbers.


Even if you do not plan on nosework competition, nosework is a great way to get your pups the mental stimulation they need.   If you are considering nosework competition, you are probably looking for as many different items and methods for searching that you can find.

The Nosework Wheel is easy to make, use, and can make training fun and interesting for you and your dog.


  1.  A location away from other dogs and people.  This will limit distractions and enable your pup to search more efficiently.
  2. High quality treats (cheese sticks, chicken, beef, etc.) in small sizes that are easy to dispense several at one time.  If treats are purchased from the store, make sure your pup REALLY, REALLY LOVES them.  Do not use kibble.
  3. A treat bag with easy access to reward quickly.
  4. A harness that allows free movement of your pup's shoulders.
  5. A lightweight 10 foot leash is preferred.  However, inside you may be able to use a lightweight 6 foot leash.
  6. For this search, Nosework Wheel with Odor (birch, anise, or clove).  Note which number the odor is placed because it will be difficult to see the cotton swab in the container when you are following your pup.
  7. Clicker.

How to use:

When using odor you want to easily move the odor without transferring it or leaving much lingering odor.  So placing the odor in a container and being able to simply turn the wheel for the next "search" is quick and easy.

Note:  when searching dogs tend to go to the last place they found the scent or item previously.  This is why you will need to move the odor prior to each new search.

Initial nosework search for this item would be:

  1. Using only 4 containers.  There would be 3 blank and 1 hot.  Prepare the "hot" container with odor and velcro onto wheel taking note of the number where the hot (odor) container is located.
  2. Harness and leash dog.
  3. Send the dog with command you have selected be it "find it" or "search".  If you are new pick one command and stick with it.   If you have a dog that is in other activities (tracking, etc.) you may already have a search or find command for that activity, so you will need a different one for nosework.
  4. Immediately when the dog's nose crosses the odor container, click and treat.

Materials needed to assemble Nosework Wheel:

  1. Lazy Susan (wood or plastic)
  2. Mini Salt/Pepper Shakers (shown above) with screw off top (used and pictured are plastic)
  3. Velcro
  4. Ruler and Marking Pen

Have FUN

If you have any questions on nosework or mental exercises for dogs, please feel free to comment or click here send me an email.

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