Most of the dogs could be trained to become truffle hunters. However, Lagotto Romagnolo and Cocker Spaniel seem to be the most commonly known truffle dog breeds. With this post, we aim to teach you how to train your dog to become a truffle hunter with the help of some whole-dried black summer truffles.
We use whole dried black summer truffles throughout the process. They are hard to crack, ideal for throwing as a ball, proper for hiding under the ground, can’t be chewed by the dog and keep enough of the original scent for the dog to get interested through the process.
Here are some guidelines on how to incorporate whole dry truffles into your truffle dog training.
Introduce the scent of truffles to your dog before using the whole truffles. Place the dried truffles in a jar or container along with some absorbent material like rice or paper towels. This will preserve the aroma and the truffles from insects and will keep the strong scent source for training intact for a long period of time.
Scent Recognition & introduction of the dried truffles
Begin by teaching your dog to recognize and indicate the presence of the truffle scent. You can do this by simply introducing the dry summer truffles to the dog. Encourage your dog to sniff the truffle, and when they show interest or indicate the scent, reward them with praise and a treat. Repeat this process to reinforce the association between the scent and reward. In our case, Andy showed a great interest in the truffles as clearly visible from the photo below.
Once your dog has successfully learned to recognize the truffle scent, you can start with easier exercises, such as placing a whole truffle in plain sight and encouraging your dog to approach it. Again when your dog shows interest or sniffs the truffle, reward them with praise and a high-value treat.
Throwing as a ball
Progress to more interesting exercises such as throwing and fetching the dried truffle as a ball. The truffle is hard to chew and you will be able to play that game with your dog for weeks. When your dog successfully learns to bring you back the dry summer truffle, reward them generously. Gradually reduce the visible cues and rely more on the scent alone.
Hiding and Searching
Progress to more challenging exercises by hiding the truffles in various locations. Start with simple hiding spots and gradually increase the difficulty. Encourage your dog to search for the truffle using their sense of smell. When your dog successfully locates and indicates the truffle, ask them to bring it back to you. Once it brings it back reward them generously. Gradually reduce the visible cues and rely more on the scent alone.
Hiding and searching for the truffles is a great way to socialize your kids with the dogs and involve them in the play.
As your dog becomes more proficient in truffle detection, you can refine its skills by using different sizes of truffles, hiding them in more complex environments, or increasing the distance between the truffle and your dog. Training sessions should be short, frequent, and enjoyable to maintain your dog’s engagement and enthusiasm. Remember to use gloves and to hide/dig the truffle a day or at least 6-8 prior to releasing the dog to look for it. Otherwise, they might easily figure out your own scent and not the truffle one 😉
Remember to train your dog to become a truffle hunter could take some time and you have to be patient. If something does not work don’t be frustrated with your dog. Instead, return one or two steps behind and try again and again until the process works out.
Practice slowly leads to success
Here is an example on how training pays off and Andy finds a really nice large truffle.
You may find some interesting reels on how we use the dry truffles for training Andy on our Facebook page.
If you really want to try out you may always get some dried black summer truffles for dog training from our Etsy shop.