There’s a brand new trend within the dog world called sniff walks they usually could also be harming your dog’s health.
You’ll have heard the phrase “It’s your dog’s walk”.
Or possibly, like me, you’ve felt the criticism of people that think that not letting your dog stop every 5 feet to smell something is mean and cruel.
From what I can tell, these owners often think they’re being higher pet owners by all the time letting their dog sniff all the things on walks at a leisurely pace.
But I feel that only happening sniff walks is what’s doing all your dog a disservice and potentially harming them.
What Is a Sniff Walk?
For those of you who haven’t encountered this term yet, it’s not likely a brand new thing – just a brand new name for it.
A sniff walk is where you’re taking your dog for a walk and permit them to stop and sniff around as much as they need.
The concept is that dogs need to make use of their nose to explore their surroundings through scent and allowing them to smell around rather a lot has advantages.
Scientists say letting your dog sniff builds latest neurons within the brain, this increasing cognitive function.
Sniff walks are also one technique to provide mental stimulation, sometimes known as mental “exercise”.
I’m 100% behind the concept of providing your dog mental exercise and helping to develop their brain.
But there’s an issue with sniff walks.
What’s Unsuitable with Sniff Walks?
There’s nothing inherently fallacious with sniff walks. In actual fact, they’re awesome on your dog!
Nonetheless, it is best to not make every walk your dog goes on a sniff walk.
I hear Dachshund owners often state that their dog walks slow all the time because they’re stopping to smell every 5 feet.
Some dog owners specifically search out “sniffing trails” or other areas which are designed to supply dogs with a wide range of scents to explore.
I recently posted a video showing how I get my Dachshunds to stop sniffing and move along so we are able to cover a ways on our walk and get our heart pumping.
People exclaimed, “But they should sniff! It’s good for them!”.
While sniffing on walks is nice for a dog, physical and mental exercise are usually not mutually exclusive.
And, if all you do is sniff walks, you might be very likely harming your dog’s health.
You’re doing them a grave disservice.
How Sniff Walks May Be Hurting Your Dog
There are several ways in which a sniff walk can harm your dog. Some literally and a few figuratively.
1) It’s not enough exercise
Most healthy, adult dogs need cardiovascular exercise to assist keep their heart healthy, joints lubricated, muscles strong, and keep them from becoming chubby.
Meandering along at a slow pace and letting your dog stop to smell all the things doesn’t achieve this.
2) They might eat what they’re sniffing
I can’t count the variety of times I let my dog sniff within the grass after which BAM! they scarfed down some unidentifiable substance that they shouldn’t have.
I worry because they may have eaten diseased cat poop, something containing chemicals, or something poisonous.
While more often than not, there isn’t a harm done or they get sick and throw up later that night, it may very well be worse.
Just like the time we needed to make an emergency trip to the vet because one among my dogs ate a part of a toxic mushroom.
3) It teaches them bad habits
When you only take your dog on sniff walks, they learn that they control the walk, not you.
While “It’s your dog’s walk” or “It’s your dog’s hike” are great reminders to acknowledge when your dog is drained, or injured, and it’s time to move home, not every walk needs to be dictated by your dog.
First, it teaches them bad leash manners.
Allowing your dog to guide your entire walks can teach them:
- To learn to tug on the leash.
- To dart forwards and backwards, potentially tripping the human walking them and making the experience difficult or unpleasant for the owner.
- That what’s over there and smells interesting is more necessary than you might be.
When your dog doesn’t find you interesting or worthwhile, they’re less prone to come if you call or take direction from you.
It could also make training may be harder – training of necessary commands that may help to maintain them protected and completely happy.
Should I Let My Dog Sniff on Walks?
Absolutely! Really, you’ll be able to’t stop it.
Dogs will smell the air, and will keep their nose down toward the bottom, to choose up scents during a walk.
Once I am out exercising my dogs and walking at a brisk pace, they do get to smell.
They get to smell for a number of seconds once they find something interesting before I expect them to maneuver along.
They get to smell once we stop for breaks.
There isn’t any way I’d deny them this.
Sometimes we even go on a correct sniff walk where I head out the door and go where my dog’s nose takes us.
Nonetheless, physical exertion is just as necessary as mental stimulation, they usually don’t get enough exercise by leisurely strolling and stopping every 5 feet.
So not all walks needs to be sniff walks.
Colleen Demling-Riler, an in-house dog behaviorist expert for Dogtopia, recommends keeping your pup walking for 70% of the time and giving him the remaining 30% to smell and explore the environment.
How one can Stop a Dog from Sniffing Every little thing on Walks
Dachshund owners often ask me how I prevent my dogs, Gretel and Summit, from stopping on a regular basis on our walks to smell.
I never had a superb answer… I just taught them to not… but I’ve been pondering more about that.
There are several techniques I exploit to maintain them moving along.
The primary my attitude. When I need them to maintain walking, I simply don’t stop.
They reply to leash pressure as an indication to maneuver along, so once I walk past them and the leash tightens up, they know their sniff session is over.
In the event that they don’t naturally stop sniffing and are available with me, I exploit one among two commands.
I’ve taught my dogs the “leave it” command. At our house this implies leave whatever you might be giving attention to.
So once I say “leave it”, they know to stop sniffing and begin walking again.
I’ve also taught them the “let’s go!” command. The command means “we’re moving now, come along.”
This command has many uses, but one among them is to get them to stop sniffing something and keep walking.
Are Dogs That Aren’t Allowed to Sniff Every little thing Unhappy?
Remember to start with of this text when I discussed that sniff walks are a brand new trend? Or quite that the term is?
In my statement, this term was created in response to the rise in popularity of dog obedience training on social media.
There are countless videos of “robotic” dogs heeling on a walk next to their owners and consistently looking up at them or staring straight ahead.
While we don’t know what is going on off camera, these videos give the impression that in case your dog is just not consistently in tune along with your every step, and ignoring all external stimulation, you’re not dog walking them right.
Calling out the practice and advantages of sniff walks is a reminder that dogs are usually not robots they usually need to make use of their natural-given, and amazing, olfactory systems.
There are a lot of advantages to smell walks (summarized from this Pawtracks article), including:
- Potentially reducing in anxiety and aggression because sniffing gives a dog the knowledge they need to know what’s happening around them.
- Increasing mental stimulation as your dog explores things they find interesting with their nose
- The mental “exercise” can tire your dog out as much as walking (even though it doesn’t provide the cardiovascular advantages).
- Sniffing makes your dog completely happy because they’re fulfilling their natural instincts
So, yes, a dog that is rarely allowed to smell on walks could also be unhappy.
But there are methods to go on an exercise walk and let your dog sniff, including:
- Letting your dog sniff whatever interests them for a number of seconds before asking them to maneuver along
- Stopping for sniff breaks in between brisk walking intervals
- Letting your dog sniff to their heart’s content before and after the walk.
Giving your dog specific sniffing opportunities on walks may be just as enjoyable for them as letting them consistently sniff.
This text is just not about focusing solely on the cardiovascular points of walking your dog.
I’m not saying sniff walks are inherently bad. In actual fact, they’re crucial to your dog’s mental health and happiness!
1) exercise and sniff walks don’t should be mutually exclusive and
2) sniff walks are usually not the one variety of walk your dog needs.
As stated above (by a veterinarian, not only my opinion), your dog should get a combination of the 2 types, but nearly all of your dog walking time needs to be focused on moving and fitness.
I also think it’s necessary to indicate that sniff walks are usually not the one technique to provide your dog mental stimulation.
While this text focused on sniff walks for mental stimulation, that can be provided through training, playing games along with your dog, and providing enrichment activities at home.