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Does sniffing release dopamine for dogs?

Everything Scent work related in one place

Scentdog is designed for those pet owners just dipping a toe in the scent work world and also trainers who teach pet nose work.

Affordable and occasionally geeky products to help you on your scent detection journey. Whether you are looking for local classes, or some kit to get you started.

What is scentwork?

We have all seen tv programmes with dogs being used to sniff out drugs, hoards of cash and even explosives! Have you ever noticed that it’s always a dog walker that finds a body in the woods!

That’s because a dogs sense of smell is so powerful, where as we «see» the world through our eyes, dogs see everything through their nose.

Us humans have around 6 million scent receptors where as the average dog has 150 -300 million!

We aren’t so much as teaching our dog to smell, but to harness it to our advantage; dogs are trained in nose work to sniff out cancers, when someone is likely to have a seizure etc so why would you not encourage your own dog to see just how good they are?

It’s good for all dogs of any age, breed and also ideal for reactive or anxious dogs.

Sniffing activates something called the ‘seeking system’ part of the brain which in turn releases dopamine — the chemical for feeling good.

Sniffing a particular scent and then interpreting that information is the dog version of a mental work out. They won’t be running miles or building up muscles, but being mentally engaged is just as important.

Where as we turn to the likes of Facebook for information about friends, family and acquaintances, a dog will get all this from their sniffy walks. Sniffing will tell them who has recently been there, how long ago and whether that dog was male or female, along with other odours left by the neighbourhood cat or fox or passing beetle, for example.

Harnessing your dogs natural talent for sniffing is a constructive way to keep them mentally stimulated. By teaching them to find and locate an odour we have taught, whether it be cash, your keys or a specific odour used, we start the seeking system in motion and are also having fun with our dog creating and even closer bond.

Odours used in the UK

Various scents or odours are used in different organisations throughout the UK, the main ones being Napier Gun Oil, KONG pieces, truffle oil, KONG Catnip Clove or even a flavoured teabag.

There is a list of nosework Instructors throughout the UK listed in the menu section — why not pop along and watch a class in action. Most dogs will work in turn so don’t be put off if your dog isn’t sociable around others.

If there isn’t one listed locally, send me a message and I’ll try to put you in touch.

The instructor list is growing all the time.

Starting out in Scentwork

If you are new to scentwork, I’d always suggest finding a qualified instructor to start you off. Teaching your dog how to ignore other exciting odours like food, birds and other amazing distractions like fox poo etc takes skill and knowledge about working with the dog in front of you and finding their motivator.

Please note I don’t send kit out with instructions, I offer references to how I see you using it in the description but another person may see something different. Plus as mentioned above each dog is different and not one size fits all.

You may already hide food around the house or garden and these are ideal to help your dog start to search and enjoy themselves, videoing your dog will also help with tell tale signs of what characteristics your dog does when searching and these maybe very subtle but helps to teach you about how your dog searches and having that tacit knowledge hugely beneficial.

You don’t actually need a lot of equipment, an odour and a pair of tweezers will generally suffice, I’m just a super nose work geek and like to add novelty items and inject fun into classes.

Check out this great nose work TED video about how dogs «See the World»

Books to Consider.

Do you find that you can’t tire your dog out, no matter how long or far you walk them?

Are you concerned that your dog is getting bored?

Have you been looking for different things to do with your dog?

How would you feel if your dog could settle even if they hadn’t been out for a walk?

Would you like to build an even stronger bond with your dog?

Scentwork could be the answer that you are looking for! It’s an interactive activity that will enhance your relationship with your dog, whilst also helping them to harness their natural scenting abilities. It’s a great game that can be played anywhere and everywhere that you go with your dog.

I’ve been training scentwork since 2017, as I needed to find a new activity for a dog that had to retire early from agility. I progressed to becoming a judge and trial manager for Scentwork UK, as well as running Nosework Games events. I’ve continued to expand my understanding and skills, and have been passing this learning on to others.

Following the steps laid out in this book will set you on a journey of a lifetime with your dog. You’ll learn how to teach them to search on cue (and when to stop), as well as teach them a ‘target odour’ to search for. You’ll start to look at the world in a different way, as you see objects and places that would be great for searching. The exercises are simple enough that anybody can follow them, meaning you don’t need any previous training experience to benefit from them. Even if you already have some experience, you will be inspired to get back to basics and have fun with your dog. This training is suitable for all ages, breeds and abilities.

I’ve kept it simple, so that nobody will get overwhelmed with trying to understand complicated terms and processes.

So what are you waiting for? Grab a copy, and get ready to change your dog’s life! .

Available to buy through the site

Scent dogs are happy dogs!

Scent training, so long the preserve of the specialist, is now one of the fastest growing canine sports, enriching the lives of all the dogs that take part.

Scent work taps into the dogs natural behaviour and is the means of providing a rewarding occupation with a very special feel-good factor.

Packed with trainers tips and details of making your own scent studio, scent work games to play and troubleshooting solutions ‘SCENT TRAINING FOR EVERY DOG’ is the complete guide for those who want to get started in scent work.

This book won the best training book award 2020, from the Dog Writers Association of America, well done to the head of the UKCSD, Dr Robert Hewings.

The Smell of Newborn Babies Triggers the Same Reward Centers as Drugs

Rachel Nuwer

Newborn babies, parents swear, have a distinct smell. According to new research in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, that universal baby smell does not occur by chance but rather is a carefully concocted perfume of biological manipulation, evolved to trigger maternal bonding.

Smells have long been associated with mother-child bonding. Babies can recognize their mother’s smell, past research indicates, and moms likewise can do the same for their children (even their poop). Now, this new paper teases out the mechanisms behind that olfactory bonding, at least on the mother’s end.

Researchers recruited 30 women for their study, 15 who recently gave birth and 15 who did not have any children. They asked the women to try and identify various mystery scents, including the smell of a newborn, taken from a baby’s pajamas. While the women sniffed, the researchers watched their brain activity via fMRI.

Most of the women struggled to pinpoint the baby smell, although they generally said it was a pleasant one. Their brains, however, told a different story. When sniffing the baby pajamas, the dopamine pathways in a region of the brain associated with reward learning lit up, LiveScience reports. Other odors, like those of delicious foods, trigger this pathway, and the same dopamine surge is also associated with satiating sexual and drug-addiction cravings. This mechanism influences us by triggering “the motivation to act in a certain way because of the pleasure associated with a given behavior,” Medical Xpress writes.

Although all the women reacted this way to some extent, the mothers had a much stronger reaction than the non-mothers. “For moms the sensation one gets when sniffing an infant presumably feels even more like the feeling of having obtained food,” Christian Science Monitor writes.

This finding left the researches with a sort of chicken-or-the-egg puzzle, however. LiveScience explains:

The researchers aren’t sure if new moms undergo a hormonal change that leads to this surge of dopamine or if their reaction is influenced by the experience of smelling their own baby, the researchers say.

“It is possible that childbirth causes hormonal changes that alter the reward circuit in the caudate nucleus, but it is also possible that experience plays a role,” Frasnelli said in a statement.

The researchers did not test whether or not men also undergo this same dopamine spark when sniffing an infant, though finding that answer would hint at the mechanism behind women’s reactions.

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