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A trail of household objects arranged on the floor in a 2m to 4m square area inside or outside.


Choose specific items that will engage your puppy/dog’s brain and get her using all her limbs to reach, stretch and seek out with her nose.


Inside, in the garden and in training classes.

Every day! At least once, especially if your dog isn’t able to be walked for any reason.


There are endless uses for the Sniff Trail – it should be the most frequently used foundation tool in your tool kit. Mostly used for confidence, calm, concentration and body awareness, but Sniff Trails do 100 times more than that!



Choose something from each category below:

  • 1 x Cardboard box, or egg box, or plastic bottle, or margarine box (anything "safe" from the recycling box!) or a footstool or yoga block, Avoid putting moist treats on cardboard if you suspect that your dog/puppy may ingest the cardboard.

  • 1 x Door mat - wrong side up

  • 1 x Towel - twisted or rolled with treats inside it

  • 1 x Shallow bowl - washing up bowl will do - with toys and the inside of toilet rolls inside it

  • 1 x Plastic box with lid with a treat on top

  • 1 x "Cool bag" or carrier bag (not plastic) with sides folded down filled with inside of toilet rolls, plastic bottles inside and a few treats scattered among them

  • 1 x Lickimat

  • 1 x interactive toy (only put 3 or 4 treats inside it)

  • 1 x Snuffle mat


Lay out a selection of 1 each of the above items and spread them across the floor in a 2 to 4 metre area in a room or garden. Choose items depending on your dog/puppy’s size (egg boxes and toilet rolls are better for puppies, whereas bigger boxes will suit larger dogs).

Put one treat on each station and throw up to 10 treats on the floor in between the stations.


On a non-slip floor inside or in the garden. The idea is to use it in a range of locations with different, non-slip surfaces to build confidence, balance and stability (emotional and physical!)


To teach the following:

  • Confidence

  • Calmness

  • Concentration

  • Body awareness

  • Problem solving

  • Fluid and free movement

  • To identify any areas of stiffness, pain or discomfort which may affect mood and behaviour

Can also be used to get a dog/puppy comfortable with new environments (such as the car) and to get used to having a harness and lead on. Just lay out your Sniff Trail, put walking equipment on and leave your puppy to mooch around the trail with the lead trailing behind them so that they don’t chew either the harness or lead.

Can be used to help two unknown dogs feel comfortable with each other by having a Sniff Trail at 5 metres away from each other in an outside area with at least one barrier between them.

Can work as a lovely way to rehabilitate a dog who is unwell or who has mobility limitations and can’t be walked.

Helping a dog feel comfortable with a car – the Sniff Trail goes up to, around and inside the car. Get the dog used to a Sniff Trail for about 5 days first, then start to put items closer and closer to the car until, in the 2nd or 3rd week you can start putting items in the foot well of the car, then on the seat or in the boot.

Sniff Trails can be used in so many situations – try them every day as the best way to calm your dog and teach good self-control.

© Fern Ember Dog Behaviour

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