The Flower Pot Scenting Game

Behavior & training

The flower pot scenting game is an easy one to teach your dog. It is inexpensive, easy to set up, and your dog will love playing it. You can teach dogs of any age – from puppies to geriatric dogs – to play this game. Because their sense of smell is so important for most dogs, this game is great fun.

Teaching Your Dog

To play this game you’ll need three small to medium sized identical flower pots. The pots can be clay, plastic or ceramic, but choose pots with a hole in the bottom.

You will also need some treats your dog really likes; preferably some with a strong smell. Swiss cheese, turkey hot dogs, or liver work well.

To teach the game:

  • Invert one pot and place a treat under it. Tell your dog, “Sweetie, find it,” and tap the pot to attract your dog’s attention.

  • When your dog sniffs the hole in the pot, praise him and tip the pot so he can find and eat the treat. Repeat a few times and then take a break.

  • At your next training session, repeat as above a couple of times and then when you ask your dog to find it, don’t tap the top of the pot. When your dog shows you in some way that he smells the treat (by nosing the pot, licking it, or pushing it with his nose) encourage him to get the treat himself. He may paw it or tip it over with his nose. Praise him and let him get the treat. Repeat a few times and take a break.

  • At your next training session, set out two pots but only use one for treats. Vary the position of the one with the treat and encourage your dog to search for the treat, “Sweetie, find it! Yeah, good!”

  • When your dog can search two pots and find the right one, then set out the third pot. Again, just put a treat under one and shuffle the pots every time so your dog has to search for the treat. Praise him when he finds it.

Keep your training sessions short; just a half dozen searches each time. You want to build excitement so your dog wants to play games with you and you can do that by using great treats, giving lots of praise, and stopping the game before he gets tired or bored.

Variations on the Game

When your dog has learned the game well and finds the treat every time, add some variations to the game. Add another identical pot or two (or three). Add them one at a time as you did when initially teaching the game. Shuffling five or six pots with a treat under just one makes the game more exciting and amazing.

You can also play the game with paper cups; just poke a hole in the bottom of each cup. Re-teach the game using the training steps above. However, because your dog already knows the game, it won’t take long for him to relearn it with the paper cups. If you dog is really excited about this game and is good at it, then create a harder challenge for him. Find six flower pots of a variety of sizes, shapes and different types (clay, plastic, and ceramic). Reteach the game by following the original training steps. Cheer him on as he masters the game, “Yeah, good dog! Woo hoo!”