They hunted large, dangerous prey, without human assistance. That required them to have excellent noses, visual acuity, fine hearing, and self-learned problem solving skill.
Stimulating the scent centers of the brain has a whole host of benefits for a new SD candidate. As I said in the post about teaching colors, red candles can smell like cinnamon or apples.
Apples are also red, and having both the scent and sight may well help the puppy “find” the apples at the farmer’s stand for you, not just the strawberries. I like strawberries too, but it wasn’t what I was wanting for apple butter!
Scent is also a big factor for diabetic alerts, seizure alerts, cancer detection, and fatigue alerts in a service dog. So scent is important to work on, in addition to their vision and hearing. The more senses a dog uses, the faster they can learn what they need to learn and remember what they need to remember.
I know next to nothing about scent detection work, either for police or competitive dog sports. Laurie Luck at Smart Dog U http://smartdog.typepad.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/laurie.luck or https://twitter.com/#!/smartdogu has I believe gotten her certification to teach nose work. She has an article on Karen Pryor’s sight too http://www.clickertraining.com/node/3276
A beginner’s puppy nose work class might be a good place for the less willing to dive in on their own to learn the basics of teaching a dog to use their nose. That knowledge can than be transfered to finding scents you want, rather than say, birch or duck.
But since taught your puppy the “find it” games for items like coffee table or kitchen, I believe I could rather easily add smells to the list. If a pup has learned what an apple looks and smells like to find it, then it’s simply adding two words together: apple/candle.
Hiding the color of a candle with a paper towel and letting them smell it when you say the word apple candle is how I’d start. Perhaps even click and treat with a slice of apple, with it’s scent and taste to add to the senory imput. Then I’d set it amongst one or two other items they now and ask then to indicate which object smells like apple candle.
Candles come in a wide variety of natural scents, and so do air fresheners. There’s this business in my area called Air Master that sells (among other things) these scented felt bars to put in the sweeper bags–there’s like 15 of them. What a test! Hey pups, find orange!
Once they know apple scent we can send them off a few feet to find the apple candle hidden in a box. Then click, and either toss a lovely treat in there too, or have a slice of apple in there with it.
A “find it game”! (Smart trainer will add a sliced apple treat to the box they found so they can automatically reward themselves with a snack…an auto reward is really effective, too.) You can used dried fruit treats for say, strawberry air freshener, or blueberry cobler. There are tons of options!
The various flavors of say, hamburger helper may look very much the same on the box, but will a scent practiced dog be able to tell them apart? If you are visually impaired this could become a very big help to you. The same with say, vanilla or lemon extracts to bake with.
A pup can learn to distinguish your brand of laundry detergent or favorite fabric softener sheets by scent. Perhaps they can learn to find the coffee you like best amongst all the same colored bags. There are many strongly scented items on a grocery list for them to learn!
And these scent games helps them ‘cement’ the word with the item; scent, color, taste if you treat with apples, shape, words…put them all together in a little pup and they will be able to build a big, big vocabulary.