Scent training could make pet dogs better behaved, new research reveals.
The study by researchers from Aberystwyth University, in collaboration with dog trainer Emma Stoker, owner of Puppy Plus on the outskirts of Newtown, suggests that even pet dog training can alter how our dogs cope with cognitive tasks.
The team tested the animals, who had been trained to varying degrees, with two tasks both requiring impulse control.
One was a test to navigate a transparent barrier to get food, known as the ‘detour task’. The other ‘A not B task’ involved the dogs being able to switch their choice from one pot to another, depending on where food was placed.
The study, published in the journal Animals, found that dogs trained in scent work performed better in these tasks than those who were not. The research demonstrates that scent training can improve dogs’ ability to avoid acting impulsively to complete a specific task.
Dr Sarah Dalesman, who co-supervised the project, said: “This research shows that dogs that train primarily in scent work have stronger inhibitory control, suggesting that this training can have a positive effect on their behaviour.”
Photo courtesy of Phil Jones of Hide and Go Sniff