For dogs, the world is a symphony of smells, an orchestration for the olfactory senses. While we might consider some scents stinky, for dogs a mere stroll down the city street is like a walk through the cosmetic department at Macy’s.
A dog’s nose is a wonder of science – they can smell 100,000 times better than humans. Furthermore, they can smell separately through each nostril allowing them to determine where a smell is coming from, much like creating a three-dimensional picture of the location. Yup, in a way, dogs can smell in 3D.
For dogs, smelling is an all-in game for the brain and sometimes 45-minutes of focused scent games is as tiring as a walk in the dog park. I jumped on the opportunity to test this theory with my pup at Sniff Scape, a limited-time pop-up adventure for pups in Kitchener, Ontario. Indoor scent games for dogs – now that’s an idea. (And finding ways to entertain your pup in winter is challenging).
First, what are some advantages of scent games or nose work for your dog?
Here’s what the experts say about the benefits of indoor scent games for dogs:
- Mental stimulation: Sniff games challenge a dog’s brain, allowing them to focus on something new.
- Physical exercise: Most sniff games involve searching for hidden objects or following scent trails, which gets them moving. For the record, Sniff Scape got me moving too.
- Boredom relief: Each sniff game is a new adventure and requires focus, and it’s an outlet for their natural instinct.
- Stress relief: For some less confident dogs, scent games can reduce anxiety and help build confidence.
- Bonding and training: Most sniff games, like Sniff Scape, involves full participation of pup parent, which is supposed to improve attention and training. (My dog and I, not so much).
Bonding and training: Most sniff games, like Sniff Scape, involves full participation of pup parent, which is supposed to improve attention and training. (My dog and I, not so much).
What is Sniff Scape?
Run by Dog Friendly KW, Sniff Scape is a pop-up enrichment experience for your dog located in Kitchener, Ontario for a limited time. From February 1 to March 31, 2023, Tuesday to Sunday, you can book a 45-minute time slot ranging in price from $30 to $45. The location is inside the Short Finger Brewing Co. at 20 Hurst Avenue in Kitchener, Ontario.
Sniff Scape is like an escape room for dogs. Located inside a micro-brewery, there are seven different sections petitioned off by the type of temporary barriers used at trade shows. Each section is a different theme:
- Botanical Terrace
- Brain Drain
- Great Lakes Escape
- Play Place
- Tropical Oasis
- Fido Fitness,
- Zen Den.
You have 45-minutes to move through each section, spending more time at some depending on your dog’s interest. For an extra fee, you can have treats scattered throughout for your dog to find (more on that soon) or bring your own. A printed guide at the sign-in table gives provides direction for maximizing the potential of each section. Note that your dog must remain leashed, and you’ll be actively participating along with them.
Different dogs are going to respond differently to each section. If you want your dog to try an assortment of puzzles before purchasing any, the nursery school-like Brain Drain sections lets you test drive an assortment.
Curious about your dog’s response to a ball pit? Try it out at the Play Place. The Play Place contains some agility features to test run, including some ‘flirt poles’ to trigger your dog’s prey drive. The Zen Den is where decompress and try out a snuffle mat or snuffle bin.
How did my dog do at Sniff Scape?
Focus and perseverance are not my Springer/Cocker Spaniel’s strengths. My 2.5-year-old spaniel frantically darted about, tore down the curtains in the Botanical Terrace and preferred sniffing through the mulch and inside the tent at the Great Lakes Escape set up. She spent some time searching for her treats in the kiddie pool of balls in the Play Place where I managed to get a photo of her actually still among the stuffed animals.
Otherwise, we spent the most time jumping around in Fido Fitness, and I burned calories crawling around the floor pointing out where the ‘hidden’ treats so she could find them. Apparently, sniffing them out herself wasn’t a priority for my pup. Finding balls, however, was the most important thing ever.
The Zen Den was not happening – for her, anyway. I collapsed in a cushion as she climbed on me, licking my face, and refusing to ‘settle’ on the cot as the instructions suggested. This moment might have been a premonition of my death: me exhausted, my dog not. She loved being there, but it didn’t wear her out.
Short Finger Brewing Co.
I was worn out however, and recouped with a break at Short Finger Brewing’s loft-level tap bar – three long community tables near the tasting bar where you can sample micro-brew such as Noble Rot barrel aged grape ale. Open to the public Thursday to Sunday, your dog can join you for a pint here at the self-proclaimed Kitchener’s only sci-fi punk brewery. No prepared food – only beer, potato chips, and cheese curds.
If you go…
Dog Friendly KW’s Sniff Scape is available from February 1 to March 31, 2023, Tuesday to Sunday. 45-minute time slots range in price from $30 to $45. Sniff Scape is located inside the Short Finger Brewing Co. located at 20 Hurst Avenue in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.
Writer bio: Sherri Telenko has been a professional writer for decades and a travel writer for the last two. She’s a member of TMAC (Travel Media Association of Canada) and Dog Writers Association of America and travels almost weekly with her canine companion, Victoria. All written content is original, written by a person, and based on experience and research.