I had a consultation this evening where I met a great family. They wanted to improve their relationship with their dog. I talked to them about what I’d be teaching them and their dog and how I’d be coaching them. They brought the dog out and I went through the standard evaluation. I saw how the dog dealt with the leash, as well as how he dealt with me, and which food they preferred, etc.
Let Them Sniff
While I’m doing the evaluation, I’m always looking to see if I can pick up any extra detail to be able to share with the family. I noticed that this dog was using its nose quite a bit, more than the average dog. While speaking with my client, they told me how much they struggle on walks and how their dog constantly has its nose to the ground. I ended up telling them, “you’re going to have to let them sniff.”
If you have a dog that’s a powerful sniffer, this is the part that’s for you. When you’re walking, make sure you get the walk the way you want it to be. When it’s going well, I want you to sit your dog and then release them to sniff around. Don’t just let them sniff for 2-3 seconds. Let it go on for a minute or two but then go back to your heeling exercise. When you do that, you are allowing the dog to use its natural tendency of the use of its nose. You put that on the back end of getting the dog to walk nicely with you. You will then have a reinforcement mechanism that’s probably better than any reward you can find.
Keep in mind this is specifically for those dogs who really love sniffing around. Every dog likes to sniff but some dogs don’t show a real interest in it. This may not be a powerful reinforcement for them.