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I've seen Spirit sniff a lot of things and of course me. I've seen her sniff with her nose just millimeters off the ground as if shes caught the trail of something, but after watching her follow it I don't see a discernible path.

One of the games I play with her is I will put her in a stay at one end of the house, grab a treat, and quietly hide in a room before calling her. But even when I'm holding a smelly treat she often just ends up searching each room until she see's me. Clearly she's not sniffing her way to me. I know she knows my scent as she has a habit of sleeping with my dirty clothes when I'm not around. I've even been able to hide behind a door & evade detection for a few minutes.

1. How accurate is a dog's nose at tracking people.

2. Am I being unfair by playing hide & seek? (1300 sq ft house)
 

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How accurate is a dog's nose at tracking people?
Extremely accurate. Search and rescue dogs aren't just guessing :p Dogs have such a keen sense of smell they are even known to be able to smell cancer. I'm currently working with a lab that's training dogs to smell hypoglycemia. Obviously some dogs will have a better sense of smell than others, but they're all better than us.

Am I being unfair by playing hide & seek?
Only if your dog doesn't enjoy it. My dogs love playing "where's ___?", where they go find the person we named around the house. They too look by sight and not smell, but I attribute it to the fact that that's the way we trained them to find us. It's also probably a little more difficult since the whole house smells like you. 'Find' can be a good mental challenge for a dog, so I don't think you're being unfair unless you can see your dog get frustrated.
 

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Its unbelievable how accurate, and where a dog can track. I have HRD (cadaver) and trailing dogs. Train in detection for narcotics as well. There is air scenting, tracking, and trailing, depending on what your dog does naturally, decides what is easier to train for.
Dogs can scent underwater, run trails 48 hours old, find a single human tooth in a forty screw field, detect caverns, bedbugs, cell phones, seizures prior to onset, hypoglycemia, bombs, anything, and with more accuracy than any equipment made by man.

Not every dog is equal, there are drives that come into play, and lots of training for odor recognition then alert. When you smell something, you can tell for instance, that a cake is baking. The dog can smell eggs, flour, sugar salt, oil, water, every single ingredient. Truly amazing!
 

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Agree with the above posts. Leann has a regular index of plants she can find on every walk. She has her favorites and some she's mildly curious about. She and Pebbles love to play hide & seek, even at the dog park.

What you're doing with Spirit is pretty much the beginning of how they teach Nosework classes. I know Nosework is pretty big in California. You may want to consider checking out a class. Nosework is geared towards competitive scent detection. They start with treats and boxes and work their way through birch, anise and clove, hidden in structures, on cars and on outdoor buildings.

I didn't have a full appreciation for their scent detection abilities until I watched them search in humid weather, dry weather and windy conditions. Scents travel differently under various conditions. After a while you can literally watch your dog follow the scent. It's really kind of amazing to watch.
 

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Its also interesting how much difference there is in the breeds. they all have different levels of smell. each breed of dog was bred for certain things. The sense of smell varys with how many scent receptors they have in their noses.
What is also fascinating is even though all dogs have a great sense of smell. not every breed will be able to find you in a game of hide and go seek. Some dogs are more oriented to follow what they see, then what they smell. I play hide and seek with all my dogs. My pit bull will romp around and go crazy and visually try to find me I usually have to give my location away he is not a good seeker. I have never succeeded in hiding from my Siberian husky he is just to smart he doesn't even view it as a game he just looks at me like " what are you doing there?" and my Basset hound when excited will have a hard time focusing but as soon as he remembers his over powered sniffer he can find me anywhere.

I once hid about 20 pieces of chicken ALL over the house. and let my basset loose and it took me not 5 minutes to find them all.

actually these sorts of games are good for your dog it is exciting for them and they feel like they are doing a job and playing.


Number of Scent Receptors

Humans-5 million
Dachshund-125 million
Fox Terrier-147 million
Beagle-225 million
German Shepherd-225 million
Bloodhound-300 million
 

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Dogs can smell cancer, so pretty darn accurate, I'd say. Without training, however, they may not know what to do with that.
 

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All dogs have a better sense of smell than we do but with some it depends on what drives them for them to use/demonstrate it. I start my first nosework class with Jubel next weekend, I think he'll be good at it. He's highly food motivated and can ALWAYS smell when someone has treats on them. Anytime he's overly interested in sniffing someone we run into on a walk or when we still went to the dog park they HAVE treats. Many people are shocked he knows, "but they're in a zip lock bag." With eating his evening meal from a dispensing toy the kibble can end up under furniture and he'll sniff it out and paw to get my attention and I have to retrieve it (or he'll scratch the hell out of the furniture trying to get it himself haha).
 

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Dogs are used to locate pre-cival war graves, bodies buried, narcotics sealed and hidden in gasoline tanks,bodies in deep water, its amazing to see what dogs center smell when properly trained for it!
 

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Nose work is a great exercise for dogs. I think that all dogs can recognize the difference between the right hand and the left hand, but just need to be taught that you're expecting that type of discrimination...
 

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Your dog could track you through almost anything ... you just haven't been successful in telling her what you want. They can do it ... if we can explain what we want them to do.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Am I being unfair by playing hide & seek?
Only if your dog doesn't enjoy it. My dogs love playing "where's ___?", where they go find the person we named around the house. They too look by sight and not smell, but I attribute it to the fact that that's the way we trained them to find us. It's also probably a little more difficult since the whole house smells like you. 'Find' can be a good mental challenge for a dog, so I don't think you're being unfair unless you can see your dog get frustrated.
I can only assume she loves it, but then again, it's hard to gauge since she pretty much enjoys being near me. I think she's searching mainly by sound. If I make any sound or stumble slightly she can zoom in on that instantly. Now that I really think about it, she always starts out in my general direction, but the echos make it hard for her to pick out the right room. Kind of amazing to me since she doesn't have pointy ears.

Your dog could track you through almost anything ... you just haven't been successful in telling her what you want. They can do it ... if we can explain what we want them to do.
I'll have to see. Basically, I'm just trying to slowly expand the games we play. When I really want to challenge her I put the places several smelly training treats on a dark area rug and have her find them. Apparently, dark treats on a dark rug takes her a while to find.

Silly questions. My house doesn't have much of a smell to me, but I never thought about the fact that most of it probably does smell like me and her. Does this mean I need to do some sort of super cleaning each year to neutralize the all scents in the house? I mean, who'd want to smell the same remnants of dirty clothes all the time.
 
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