Your dog won’t walk. He wants to sniff everywhere and you just want him to walk neatly next to you as he should. Your dog is not very docile… don’t mind you… this is a problem after all! Why does your dog do that…? And of course you want to know what you can do about it. Do you have to do something about it? In this blog all the ins and outs of sniffing!
Why do dogs sniff?
Sniffing for dogs is like Facebooking, watching TV and reading the newspaper for people. By sniffing, a dog gets a picture of the environment. Sniffing is an important part of social behavior in dogs. Sniffing puddles and scent trails is just like checking messages on social media or your email. Your dog may smell something and decide it’s not very important, or leave a comment (like a pee).back to menu ↑
The dog nose
Your dog’s nose is a very special device and smell is really important for dogs. When your dog loses his sense of smell, it often causes huge problems.
If your dog smells a blade of grass, he can tell exactly who walked on the grass…that it was the spaniel 3 houses away who was recently neutered and had a bowl of lamb and rice this morning. Your dog also knows how long ago that neighbor’s dog was there and which way the spaniel went.back to menu ↑
Stopping sniffing or not allowing it is actually like when someone tells you that you can go for a walk, but you can’t look at shop windows or other people. And certainly not listening to the radio or watching TV, let alone the internet.
You are not allowed to have contact in the form of letters, cards or e-mails. When you walk in nature, you are not allowed to enjoy the view, or admire the flowers and trees. Doesn’t sound very nice…
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But then I hardly get ahead!
Yes, sometimes you hardly get ahead. Of course, your dog should also be able to walk with you if necessary. Reward it often and well in addition to walking/following. The environment is often very exciting, there are all kinds of smells.
Does your dog have to exercise a lot because he has to lose weight, for example? Then alternate the sniffing pieces with brisk walking. As long as your dog gets his basic exercise, it doesn’t matter if you take an hour to cover a 2-kilometer stretch, or a quarter of an hour.back to menu ↑
Always allow sniffing?
No, not always, but always if possible. But also teach your dog a ‘walk now’ cue.
Suppose your dog is sniffing extensively and suddenly you see that you are very close to a nest of ground wasps… and of course your dog’s nose goes right there. Then it is useful if you can stop the sniffing in a split second and your dog immediately, cheerfully walks with you.
The rule with me is: sniffing is allowed, unless I call you and ask for a ‘next door’. It will of course be well rewarded!back to menu ↑
But… a dog should follow, right?
Hell yes. At times when you do a tracking exercise, he must follow. But following and just walking are 2 different things. Just like competition dancing and walking. Or give a concert as a singer, or just laugh in the shower.
Walking is meant to relax, have free time, sniff, pee. Following is with full attention next to walking, cheerful and precise in position. Without peeing or sniffing. During a walk you could therefore use ‘follow’, for example, when crossing or passing. But during the whole walk…?back to menu ↑
Yet there are many dogs that are not allowed to sniff (on a leash). On the leash you walk next to or behind the boss and you have to make meters.
Do dogs have emotions? This is an interesting question, where most dog owners will immediately say “yes, of course my dog has emotions!”. My dog is happy when I come home, he gets angry when the…
“Your dog is aggressive!!” For some the biggest compliment, for others a real disaster if someone labels your dog as “aggressive dog”. When do we stick a card “aggressive..
, a hyperactive dog, a depressed dog… it can go either way. Do you have a dog that doesn’t sniff much (or not much) while walking? You can encourage that!
How do I teach my dog to sniff?
Sometimes all you need to do is halve your pace when walking. Pretending to sniff trees/stones/bushes yourself can also help your dog. If your dog sniffs and then pees, you can certainly reward this (verbally)!
With some dogs you have to help a little more. Then you can, for example, scatter small, tasty foods in the grass, or place foods on a stone or tree trunk. This will give your dog more interest in his environment, and by grabbing the treats he will start sniffing.back to menu ↑
What is a sniff walk?
A sniffing walk is really fun to do. You are looking for a place that your dog is not familiar with. All new scents! Leash your dog on his harness with a (long) leash. Ask your dog for a moment and then he can go wherever he wants.
So you are now going to follow your dog! And he can sniff to his heart’s content. I teach my dogs that ‘free’ means that they can determine the route and the pace. Until I say with the command ‘pay attention’ that I will now take over again.back to menu ↑
My dog drools when sniffing
Some dogs start chattering, foaming and drooling when sniffing. Often these are males that smell an attractive bitch! So this is normal. Depending on how accessible your dog remains, it might be better to get your male dog away quickly and walk to another location.
Some males remain restless after the walk, during which they have discovered these wonderful scents. Drooling, wheezing, not wanting to eat, maybe you see masturbating and ejaculating. Very normal of course, but with many males it is better to quickly stop sniffing women’s scents.back to menu ↑
A good tracking dog?
“He walks all day with his nose on the ground, he could be a good tracking dog.” I hear this very often. But is that true?
If your dog sniffs as a distraction, so suddenly starts sniffing, this could be an example of a very insecure dog. This dog can also pull a lot on the leash, and forget that you are also dangling from it.
Characteristics of a good tracking dog are ‘trainable, self-assured, willing to cooperate with the owner and has a lot of perseverance and works purposefully’. Wanting to sniff everything is different from focusing on one person’s trail for a long time… that’s tough.back to menu ↑
My dog just sniffs and makes no contact at all
Sometimes your dog is so intensely preoccupied with odors outside that you no longer exist for him. Do you get the feeling that you really don’t exist anymore? Then divide your walk into ‘sniffing time/pee time’ and ‘walking time’. Do regular exercises (such as the hand touch, attention, gymnastics) during the walks. You can also temporarily feed your dog while walking. We often encounter this problem in adolescents.back to menu ↑
Your dog suddenly starts sniffing
Also in situations of acute stress we often see that a dog chooses to sniff. Sniffing is then a strategy to deal with the situation. Sniffing helps your dog to calm down.
You can see this when a dog is suddenly intrusively approached by a human or another dog. Or when your dog does not want to walk with you in a new environment. Those are often moments when your dog suddenly opts for a tension sniff!back to menu ↑
Sniffing is important
So the conclusion is that sniffing is very important and a very important part of social behavior. So make sure your dog can satisfy its need for sniffing. But also teach your dog to stay next to you on command in connection with dangerous situations such as glass, insects, or other things that are potentially dangerous. Not being allowed to sniff (enough) is very frustrating and can cause problem behavior.