Many dogs love to stop and sniff while walking. Although this is healthy for dogs and you should not try to stop them from sniffing altogether, some dogs are excessive sniffers, stopping every ten feet and dragging your thirty minute walk into an hour or more. Luckily, you can train your dog to stop excessively sniffing in a simple way.
The rest of this article will detail why your dog stops to sniff on walks, how you can train them to stop sniffing when you say it’s time to go, and the best tips and tricks to train successfully.
Table of Contents
- How can I get my dog to stop sniffing?
- Why does my dog stop to sniff everything?
- How do I train my dog to listen to a command to stop?
- How do I use “Leave It” on a walk?
- What if my dog won’t follow me?
- Should I punish my dog for sniffing?
- How do I let my dog sniff only sometimes?
- What if my dog pulls hard on the leash when trying to sniff things?
- Should I use a choke chain or a prong collar?
- What if training isn’t working for my dog?
How can I get my dog to stop sniffing?
You should not aim to get your dog to stop sniffing things altogether, but rather to learn to listen to commands to stop. You can train your dog that when you say it’s time to go, the sniffing session is over. This will allow you and your dog to get on with your walks without the whole thing being derailed by your dog sniffing everything in sight.
Why does my dog stop to sniff everything?
Dogs use their sense of smell to interpret the world. Different scents give them tons of information, such as what has happened in a certain location, whether there are any dogs nearby, whether the area is safe or dangerous, and much more.
Sniffing is a source of mental stimulation that should not be completely taken away from your dog—just like you take your dog on walks to exercise his body, sniffing things allows your dog to exercise his brain.
How do I train my dog to listen to a command to stop?
The first thing you should do is teach your dog the “Leave It” command. You can start by teaching your dog to leave a treat alone when you tell him to. Place a treat on the floor and cover it with your hand so that your dog cannot get to it, repeating “Leave It.” He will certainly try!
Wait until your dog stops trying to get to the treat and looks up at you. Then, tell your pup that he is a good boy and give him a treat. Remember never to reward your dog with the treat on the floor! You have told him to “Leave It.” So, the reward treat should always come from your opposite hand.
How do I use “Leave It” on a walk?
Once your dog has learned to leave treats alone when you command him to, you can progress to training on the leash. Make sure you bring lots of high-value treats with you. If you are using clicker training, bring your clicker along as well.
Take your dog for a walk, and when he tries to pull away to go sniff something, say “Leave It! Let’s Go” in a firm voice. Then, follow through. Do not let your dog stop to sniff—keep walking. When your dog successfully follows you, reward him with a treat.
What if my dog won’t follow me?
If your dog won’t follow you after you say “Leave It, Let’s Go,” you should give him no choice but to keep walking. This does not mean to just drag him along!
According to dog expert Elizabeth Wilhelm, when your dog stops, you should take hold of the leash close to his collar and keep walking. The second your dog follows you, loosen your grip on the leash and reward with a treat. If you are using a clicker, make sure to click every time you reward with a treat.
Should I punish my dog for sniffing?
You should never punish your dog for sniffing. Sniffing is a totally healthy and necessary activity for dogs to do. Instead of punishment, continue working with your dog on the “Leave It” command until he knows it by heart, being sure to reward him when he listens to you. Positive reinforcement is the best way to train your dog to stop excessively sniffing.
How do I let my dog sniff only sometimes?
Once your dog is an expert at the “Leave It” command, you should be able to allow him to sniff sometimes. When your dog shows interest in sniffing something on your walk, allow him to do so. Whenever you are ready to keep going, however, give the “Leave It” command. Your dog should move on.
What if my dog pulls hard on the leash when trying to sniff things?
If your dog pulls hard on the leash, you may want to work on training them to walk nicely beside you with slack in the lead. To do this, use treats to lure your dog to stand at your side. When there is slack in the leash, reward him with the treat.
Continue to do this every time your dog walks beside you rather than pulling. If he does pull, instead of punishing him, stop moving and stand still until there is slack in the leash again. Then, reward with a treat and continue the walk.
Should I use a choke chain or a prong collar?
Choke chains and prong collars will not stop your dog from sniffing. They can actually cause severe injury to your dog’s neck if he or you pull too hard while he is wearing one. They cause dangerous pressure on your pup’s sensitive airway.
If you wish to use a training device to stop your dog from pulling on the leash, consider a head collar or a body harness. These are much safer devices to reduce the leverage your dog has to pull on his leash.
What if training isn’t working for my dog?
It is important to remember that not every training method will work for every dog. If your dog is not very treat motivated, or if they are very stubborn when it comes to pulling on the lead, you may need to find alternative rewards to get your dog to learn the necessary commands.
For some dogs, lots of love and pets may work better than treats for others! Clicker training is also a handy method. The important thing is to choose a method and stick with it for long enough to discover if it is truly not working, or if your dog just needs more time. Overnight results are not common when it comes to training.