Recently I watched someone walking his dog close to my office in Black Earth. Every ten feet or so the dog tried to stop to sniff the ground, and every time she did, the man at the other end of the leash pulled her forward so that he could continue walking. Ah, the canine-primate disconnect, which never fails to appear if we just pay attention. I wrote an entire book about this, The Other End of the Leash, and yet I’m still discovering ways in which we struggle to merge our ethological needs.
Primates love to walk, at least, terrestrial ones like humans do. Not only that, but we like to walk side-by-side with our friends, to face the world together and exchange the news of the day. While we’re walking we spend a lot of energy looking around—enjoying the view and noting what has changed in the neighborhood. Dogs, on the other hand, primarily want to learn about the environment through olfaction, a sense that we humans are better at than we think, but often pay little attention to. But how many of us insist that our dogs don’t stop to smell the roses, but walk or trot happily by our side? It is why, in Family Friendly Dog Training, I suggest that dogs define heeling as “walk slowly and ignore all interesting things”. This photo, by the way, is Susannah Charleson’s Search and Rescue dog Puzzle, with Susannah in the background. (If you haven’t read her books yet, you’re lucky–because now you get to. Don’t miss them, they’re great.)
Dog owners aren’t alone in ignoring the olfactory needs of animals. Birte Nielsen and colleagues published an important paper in December of 2015 titled “Olfaction: An Overlooked Sensory Modality in Applied Ethology and Animal Welfare.” They argue, compelling, that we do animals a disservice by not acknowledging the impact of odor on their behavior and wellbeing. These odors can both cause suffering or improve lives. Jenna Bueley, DVM, found that air captured from a busy, stress-filled urban veterinary clinic increased stress-related behavior in dogs, reported at the 2012 IFAAB conference. Clark and King, noted in Nielsen’s article, found that olfactory stimulation increased behavioral diversity and activity levels in captive black-footed cats. But note… the same study found that odors had little effect on the behavior of captive gorillas. Ah, that primate thing again.
You don’t need me to tell you how important smell is to a dog. None of us are surprised that years ago, Bradshaw and Lea found that the vast majority of a dog’s interaction with a new dog related to olfaction (1992). But I think we all, me included, need to be reminded of how much “going on a walk” can be defined by us as “walking while looking and perhaps talking,” while to a dog, “going on a walk” means moving from one interesting smell to another.
It is important, but not natural, for us to acknowledge the essential nature of the sense of smell. Examples of its importance abound: Wells and Hepper (2006) found that day-old pups preferred the scent of aniseed if their mother’s food had contained it while they were pregnant. Think about that—it means that dogs can learn to associate emotions, and thus behavior, with a particular smell even before they are born. (Breeders take note.) It also appears that the perception of scent is lateralized in the brain in dogs. Sinischalchi and colleagues (“Sniffing with the right nostril” 2011) found that dogs preferred to use the right nostril when sniffing new scents, and switched to the left when the scent became routine, or non-threatening. Dogs who smelled arousing stimuli (adrenalin, sweat) never switched to the left nostril. Since the right nostril is linked to the right hemisphere of the brain (it’s an exception to the usual switch, left eye to right brain for example—if that stopped you for a moment, it did me too…), this suggests that olfaction in a dog’s brain is lateralized, and that the sympathetic HPA axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal, or “on alert!” axis) is primarily mediated by the right hemisphere in dogs.
This all circles around to the title of the blog: Take your dog on a sniff. I’ve written before that dogs need autonomy to be truly happy. I’m arguing here that what they most need is the freedom to use their noses. That is easy for us who can walk our dogs off leash. But leashed dogs need owners willing to compromise—an invigorating primate walk with our dogs trotting alongside part of the time, and the rest includes the dog getting, finally, the freedom to go from scent to scent and all the stimulation and information that entails.
Full disclosure: I’ve been good for years about letting my dogs stop to sniff when we are walking on leash, but lest I sound smug, guess how many photos I have of my dogs sniffing something? Three. Only three. That’s compared to literally hundreds of photos of my dogs playing together or with toys. Ah, that primate thing again.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: I’d have spent some time this morning taking photos of dogs sniffing to make up for the lack of them, except it’s minus 5 degrees Fahrenheit right now. Nope, sorry, not holding metal in my hands this morning; it was enough to have to grab the handle on the barn door to get the hay out for the sheep.
I did manage to take two long walks with the dogs this weekend, even though it was, uh, nippy. We’ve been spoiled by the atypically warm November and December, so this more typical January weather feels a tad chilly. This morning when my fingers began to burn while feeding the sheep I thought, “Oh. Right. This is what cold is like.” But I’m actually quite happy about it; the unseasonably warm weather made me nervous. Not to mention the mud. Now it’s ice on the ground… dangerous but at least I don’t have to towel off paws or bathe three dogs 4-5 times a day.
Soon it’s off to New York City to meet with the publishing house that will be bringing out my memoir in 2017. Folks have asked “what’s taking so long?” so I thought I’d write a post in the near future about what happens between a manuscript being purchased by a publishing house and the book’s actual release. (Spoiler alert: A lot.) I’m taking my camera to the Big Apple, hoping for some fun photos of “city dogs,” in preparation for a post I’ll be writing about City Dogs versus Country Cousins in the near future. Stay tuned.
Here’s Nellie and Polly as I found them when I returned home from the office. They’re in their ‘igloo,’ which has a heating pad underneath it. (The cord is ‘outdoor safe,’ or at least, as much as it can be.) When I got home this afternoon Polly was grooming Nellie until I interrupted with my camera. Sorry, girls, go back to what you were doing!
Margaret Tucker says
I find if my dogs are allowed to sniff on the way out for a walk, they are much more likely to want to walk with me, and maybe practice some rally exercises on the way home.
Jann Becker and Kira says
I use “sniff time” as a reward for navigating through people/kids/other dogs/cyclists/etc, at the park. It’s a chance for Kira to catch her breath (literally) and do her own dog thing after a “remember your CGC” social encounter.
Ali Vorhies says
I have a “go sniff” reward cue for my champion puller Portuguese Water Dog when he has offered polite loose-leash walking. He’s more likely to walk nicely because he knows I will let him go sniff or go pee an area he finds interesting. If he does pull forwards, I stop, wait for him to check in or at least back up to loosen the leash. I mark it with a “yes” and then “go sniff”. One of the best bits of advice from a mentor trainer, ever.
deanie heller says
I have a service dog who assists me with mobility. It’s always difficult to find a balance between his needs and mine. I finally came up with the command “your turn” after which he can stray from my side for sniff time. He has learned to promptly heel when I ask him to. So the opportunities my not be long, but they are as frequent as time allows. When I look at him I see the joy and the importance has been duly noted.
Trish, I love the pictures you chose this week. Wide-angle pictures of nose-first dogs accompany the article perfectly!
Primate walk vs. canine walk is an ongoing negotiation here, especially since I am usually walking two dogs. Perhaps unreasonably, I expect them to recognize the difference between purposeful walking (limited sniffing) and meandering (sniff away, but please don’t pull in two different directions!). It is so much easier on both species when we get to a destination where the dogs can run and sniff freely.
Speaking of running freely, Red Dog pulled or tweaked something a few days ago so we had to keep her quiet and on pain meds. She recovered quickly and when I finally let her run this weekend, she did not stop (except to sniff!) for about 45 minutes. The 12-year old GSP that we met on the walk quickly decided against trying to keep up. 🙂
Terry Golson says
Great article! It’s not just dogs. I do horse welfare consults for private clients. Horses have a keen sense of smell -far better than their eyesight – and some horses are quite smell-oriented. One horse that I work with started stereotypic pacing in his stall this winter because his window was closed and he couldn’t make sense of what was outside. We put him into an outside stall, with an open top door, and the pacing stopped. So, for you horse people out there, take your horse on a sniff walk. Once you’re aware of what they’re paying attention to, it’s really interesting!
What a timely post; I just blogged about this very phenomena today! Alas, Sam would sniff the entire time of a our 2 mile walks. I’d love to accommodate those needs but I think he uses the time for checking ‘pee-mail’ and marking more than bona fide sniffing and exploring the world around him.
Some place along the way I read or was told that a leashed walk should have three parts. One part should be the dog getting to wander along and sniff, one part should be brisk walking as exercise, and one part should be training. It’s a rule that has served us well. Sometimes we do it as each piece in turn, sometimes we mix it up switching between pieces as the whim strikes. Ranger seems to really like having the three pieces mixed into all walks. Finna tends to put her nose down on a track and keep going at a reasonable pace so mixing it up isn’t as important for her.
Allowing dogs time to sniff isn’t just good for their mental health and well-being. I was at a seminar offered by an orthopedic vet once where she demonstrated how physically beneficial the posture of nose to the ground is for a dog. It’s the posture that puts the least amount of stress on their skeleton and musculature. She had lots of interesting anecdotes about dogs with serious physical issues or in old age who recovered a lot of mobility when they were encouraged to spend significant amounts of time with their nose to the ground. At the seminar she had an articulated dog skeleton and had painted the muscles onto her golden retriever with vegetable dye so we could see how different postures pulled different bones or muscles tight.
I agree – it is so much easier on off leash walks. When a leash is necessary we compromise, although if I am walking with my sister (a stride out and keep moving walker) it usually means the humans end up half a mile apart! I rather tailor it to the dog – my two have learned to take turns – a good sniff at the beginning of the walk and at the all important corners; a brisker trot between these points. When walking my neighbour’s middle aged terrier I tend to keep her on leash and moving reasonably fast on the outward leg, and let her off to sniff and dawdle on the way back – otherwise she sits down after the first hundred yards or so to await our return, and she really needs the exercise. I do feel sorry for the dogs (and their owners) for whom a walk is a drag on a leash, human glued to a mobile phone, dog hauled along willy nilly – it always seems to me like taking a child through a toy market and not allowing them to stop and look. And for me the whole point of walking my dogs is to be doing something we all enjoy together – or even something we dislike as we scuttle back to the car and a heap of warm towels through the wind and rain and sleet!
W. S. says
Walking through our neighborhood, we discourage our dogs from stopping and sniffing to prevent them from messing on neighboring property. When we get to the park, it’s no holds barred, however. This is the common practice in the area where I live.
Heidi Meinzer says
Love the comment about having a “Go Sniff” cue! My environmentally sensitive Shepherd mix does use her eyes and nose on our walks, but my lab is all nose! He would literally plow into a brick wall chasing scent on the ground when we walk. I let him sniff along the first part of our walks, and then when we’re walking along happily later in our walk and he offers eye contact or another polite behavior, I allow him a good sniff (and pee) session. I do K9 Nose Work with both of my dogs, and they absolutely love, love, love it! It’s a wonderful way to give dogs autonomy, as an activity and sport where the dog is the teacher and the owner really has to give up control to the dog. I found it fascinating that this post came after the discussion of what makes your dogs happy — sniffing is definitely very high up on both of my dogs’ lists! For those looking for reading materials about dogs and their noses, What The Dog Knows by Cat Warren is also fabulous!
Vicki in Michigan says
It can be hard to know what to do. We both need exercise, but if we take 45 minutes to get around one suburban block, because one member of the party can get lost in a sniffing location for two full minutes, neither of us gets any exercise.
I want to take the dog on my full walk, but if I have to stop every 10 seconds, it’s very frustrating for me.
The compromise we made as he got older was that I would walk by myself, and then I would walk him as far as he wanted to go (a block or two), and he could sniff to his heart’s content.
This was made easier for me when I started carrying a book. Something light (paperback), and lightweight, so I could keep an eye out for a need for poop-scooping…. The Secret Garden, or Anne of Green Gables……… People have told me they were surprised I didn’t trip and fall, but if they’d noticed to how slow our pace was……………..
Something I might try with a new young dog is a cue — like a small bell on the collar? — for either “this is exercise time” or “this is sniffing time”.
Francoise Maxwell says
I couldn’t agree more. Taking a dog for a walk without letting him sniff is akin to a human going for a walk wearing a blindfold—or talking on the phone 🙂
I have three dogs and live in an urban environment with few off leash areas apart from small dog parks. As one of my dogs has dog reactivity issues all our outings are on leash. Our walks have always been at their pace and we stop and sniff the pee mail whenever they want. I have only three rules for my dogs on these walks- no pulling, we wait til everyone is finished sniffing before moving on, and no eating of garbage.
Sue Collis says
I work on the principal that it is Sid’s walk not mine, I’m there to make sure he doesn’t get lost or get into trouble.
Therefore our walk can take up to 2 hours at a time & Sid ‘snooters’ from one smell to another, squirrel to squirrel tree to tree & so on. He always returns home, happy & exhausted, not from running around but from reading & leaving peemails!
The post made me smile because I have finally trained my guy to let the dogs sniff more often ;-). They love it obviously. That being said, they are also the kind of dogs who like the pace between sniffing point to be brisk to say the least. Especially Spot loves to run from point to point. Unfortunately for him, we either go running/scootering = no sniffing or walking = no running… When we get into new territory he can get so excited by all the new things that are there to see, smell, hear he can’t wait to see what other glories there are around the corner. And who says dogs only snif when they are standing still with their noses to the ground? Just as an example of what I mean: when mantrailing Spot works with his nose held high, not on the ground. I am amazed every time about what he can achieve with that. It is not ideal, because when track start getting older, he has more trouble because of windblown scents. Last time he got confused, het lost the track but picked up the scent in another place and we ended up at the wrong side of the building where the person he had to find was hidden. He did figure it out though, that he had to go around the office block. (and my ws he PROUD 😉 ) Anyway, here is a short movie of Spot on another track (and yes, my leash handling is not good, but we ware working on it) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWUxnsJ9hdA&feature=em-upload_owner#action=share where you can see how high his nose is while working scent.
Another thing I started noticing once a friend mentioned is, is that dogs do not only sniff but start sampling the air by sort of smacking? I hope that is the right word. Like they are tasting the air. They do that in order to use the vomeronasal organ. In horses it’s called the Flehmen respons. In dogs it is less clear, but once you started noticing it, it’s easy to see. I have a picture of Shadow doing it: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-kdMrzy7Dea0/VDwtY7djvzI/AAAAAAAACXI/hx0Gs5-r3vs/s1600/IMG_8557.jpg
What I did find interesting though: Spot is an avid puller, always in a hurry to get somewhere, especially in new terrain. We are progressing but there are days that I, well, just tell him to go right ahead because I can’t seem to get through and it is too frustrating for both of us. But a couple of weeks ago I was walking with my father who unfortunately has slowed down quite a bit (we are not sure what is going on, but something isn’t right with his balance). So I was compelled to walk slowly. I was not really looking forward to it, but to my amazement he actually calmed down quite quickly and took the time to smell/investigate more. So instead of making him “tired” in order to calm down (takes a couple of hours of pulling, then we are both tired.. ) perhaps we should start going really slow. But how to train my guy into doing that.. that’s a big big challenge..
Kat, I love the “three part walk” concept. I realize that, when on leash, I ask my dogs to walk with me when we start, then have a designated sniff time (I too say “Go Sniff,” but note I also teach “sniff” as a cue–undoubtedly the easiest thing in the world to teach a dog to do on cue!). Somewhere in the walk I too will do a little ‘obedience’ polishing, but I never organized it in my brain as a ‘three part walk”. Love it. And LOVE the comment about a dog’s structure designed for sniffing, and more ‘head down’ time being therapeutic. (Who did the seminar? Chris Link? Sounds like it was great!)
To Monika: You mentioned your dog spends more time ‘reading pee mail’ than ‘exploring the world around him’. I’m thinking that those are actually similar things. (Although I do understand that some dogs, males especially, become obssessed with marking on walks, and it can get tiring to say the least.)
To Mireille: Ah yes, “go slow,” is a challenge for sure. Love the videos though! I have found that my walking speed can have a big impact on a dog’s. I wonder if you tried walking slowly while saying “Slooooooow” would work even if you weren’t with your Dad? (Sorry about your dad, though, hope it’s not serious.)
To Sue: A two hour walk of you following your dog ‘snooting’ around? (I love that word! Going to use it…). You win the patient award. I also love Vicki’s idea to carry a book, although I’m afraid I’d get lost in it and walk into a tree. A friend of mine, who walks her dogs off leash five times a day (really), listens to podcasts and books on tape as she walks. That way her eyes are always on her dogs, but she doesn’t get bored.
I foster dogs for a rescue and I can always tell when a new foster dog has lived in the city or has never been allowed to sniff. I take the dogs through our wooded trails. (New foster dog always on leash until I can trust them to not run away.) “City” dogs never sniff the ground as we walk around for one or more days. Then, all of a sudden, noses go down and the sniffing begins! Obviously our trips through the woods is mainly for sniffing, then potty, then exercise. It is very important to let dogs be dogs….that means sniffing everything and then often peeing on it. The 3 dogs take turns very politely.
Ah, trying to find that balance! For the always-hungry Corgis, “sniffing” frequently overlaps with “finding something to eat.” I’m reminded of the cartoon where the dog does some calculations and determines that 30% of all things are edible, but only 10% are food.
And then there is Jack, for whom checking pee-mail turns into “I shall stand here for five minutes and sniff this same spot, and maybe give it a few licks.” I believe, but am not certain, that he does this when a female in heat has been out sometime before him.
I do generally let them sniff sometimes but have to be vigilant when I do. Jack is also an obsessive marker. My husband and I don’t argue much, but one of our ongoing debates is him saying “Jack needs to pee!” and me saying “He doesn’t NEED to pee. He’s marking,” to which my husband responds “You don’t know what it’s like to be a man!” *sigh*
So, mostly we strike a balance but sometimes “Go for a walk” feels more like “go for a haul.” Miss Maddie has determined that what with the cart and the harness and all the bits and bobs, the leash is one strap too many and won’t always walk with it. So we mostly walk her leashless, but even with the leash it is not really possible to convince her to move if she does not want to; the cart changes the dynamics and leash correction no longer has any meaning. She has also learned that we no longer enforce most of the rules (old dog privilege) and so I sometimes resort to bribery once she decides that eating tree bark is more fun than walking.
Needless to say, a mile long walk now takes the better part of an hour. And you know what? I will miss it like crazy when that is no longer the case.
Joanne Ometz says
First a non-dog comment for Mireille. When my mom developed Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, one of the first symptoms was loss of balance, along with incontinence and some dementia-like symptoms. It was treated through a surgical procedure and she is now, at 83, doing great.
Now to the topic:
When I started going on sniffing walks with my dog, I noticed all sorts of wonderful things. She started peeing less often on walks. We lived in an urban area and some peeing on walks can be a sign of stress. I also noticed she was a bit less tense when we came upon another dog. I think the sniffing and more relaxed pace helped her to relax in general. And her intermittent limp, caused by an old injury to the psoas, got better. I believe this was due to her being able to move more naturally. For some dogs, just as for people, keeping up a swift pace at a walk or trot can cause repetitive motion injuries. Our dogs are not able to tell us they need to slow down or take a break. And as another person stated, the sniffing posture helps dogs stretch.
Larry Caldwell says
My wife and I adopt mature dogs, mostly from urban environments, and it is interesting to watch them adjust to being able to run off a leash and explore at their own pace. Sometimes they just want to run. We have a springer that was owned by a sick old man that had to learn how to run again. He had spent most of his life walking at an invalid’s pace. He was homesick and waiting for Charlie to come get him, but Charlie was dead. It took 10 months for him to “get his sparkle back.”
It takes months for an adult adopted dog to bond with its new family. We have seen it several times. We once adopted a large Munsterlander who thought he was going to get dumped every time we took him somewhere. He ended up a wonderfully loyal and affectionate dog, but it took him time.
To link this to your article, sniff time is important, linked with autonomy and exercise. It’s important to have a dog that will heel when told to, but it is also important that a dog have a vote on where it is going and what it is going to look at. All my dogs heel off a leash, and love the bond and affection of heeling, but when I release them they take off like a rocket. When I’m somewhere that they have to be on a leash I always use a 20′ extend-a-lead and often follow where they want to go. If I need them to heel, I don’t need a leash at all.
Joyce Pettitt says
my nine and a half year old golden Campbell and I are presently going into level 3 k9 nose work classes at Mary Remers’ What a Good Dog in nearby Frazer, Pennsylvania.
We started this class originally to cope with the grief after losing Chloe, my 11 and a half year old Golden. I thought it would give Campbell something new to do that she didn’t share with her sister. It has turned into an extraordinary experience and we plan on continuing as long as it we can. It also brings new life and insights into what were once just “walk abouts”. Now I see her sniffing and it isn’t just a random act! I know that it has deep meaning for her both on and off the lead.
I recommend anyone look into these classes if you are so fortunate to have them locally and available; a deepening and bonding experience as well as pure fun for your fur baby!
Magnus Eunson says
My GSD doesn’t sniff; he licks…everything all along the way of our walk in a small PA city. I really can not let him do that…too much potential for him to get sick. My moral obligation is to take care of him and look out for his health and safety.
One of my favorite things to do is examine trash (usually fast-food bags) to determine if it is safe while Cecil holds a sit, and then hand it to him to examine (or destroy) as a reward. I use my hands and eyes, he uses his nose. It’s a somewhat twisted way to express my affection but it’s really helped with his tendency to dash towards anything interesting on the ground, I just have to be alert enough to notice his interest. I imagine my reputation in the neighborhood is a bit mixed at this point but hey, you only live once.
I think there is a balance needed with this.
It is very frustrating to me when I’m walking my dogs or working with a reactive dog and along comes a dog on a “sniff walk” at the end of a 13 ft leash. The owner has no control over the dog. It’s the “oh, he’s friendly!”as the dog is posturing and trying to start problems or I’m taking a reactive dog off into the bushes so we can have space and stay under threshold. That type of walk is really disrespectful to other dog owners. What if my 14 yr old doesn’t want a boxer jumping all over and mouthing him?
I think there are responsible ways to have sniff rewards during a walk. In my obedience classes, a majoriry of the owners are drug around from one bush to another by their dogs.
Sniffing is important. Being able to walk on a loose leash near their owner for a walk is a really important skill. I’ve noticed dogs who can walk without dragging their owners get to spend MUCH more time outside of their yard and go on long walks to experience other things.
Like others, we have a “go sniff” cue. I use this probably every 30 min during a walk for my own dogs. They also spend a lot of time off leash on trails to sniff to their heart’s delight.
For my students I suggest a quick 5 minute sniff multiple times during a structured walk (where quick obedience cues are thrown in) to keep the walk interesting for all involved. It also helps with proofing.
If the dog is nervous, I suggest a lot of sniff breaks. I use them heavily when working a shy or nervous dog. Temple Grandin went over sone research about it activating a different portion of the brain and reducing anxiety.
I think there can be a good balance. If a dog is working on heel, I usually suggest a short distance, followed by a “sit” and release to sniff. The sit I added after I noticed some dogs would heel a certain distance and decide on their own to go off into the bushes, before being given the cue.
I know I sound like the fun police, but a compromise between walking politely for distances and rewards with sniffing, gives many dogs much more access to life outside their yards.
There are breeds that simply have to sniff. Don’t get a basset if you want an energetic walk, since you will always be disappointed. They have the second best dog nose, right up there after bloodhounds, and my adult dogs and I go on sniffs, not walks–at least until they see something interesting in the distance.
Bassets are not for everyone, and this is part of the reason. Working against that highly engineered nose will always be a losing proposition.
As a mail carrier, I walk for a living, so I have the luxury of viewing a walk as “fun for the dogs.” I wish I were coordinated enough to ride a bike and run my Lily, but have visions of road rash. We walk early (4:45 or so am), because I am too tired at the end of the day – and desert summers mean it’s still too hot after sunset. Our treks are around a mile, and we do mostly what they want. Lily is more visual, so walking her is brisker with less sniffing. Gemma prefers to sniff everything, so we stop a lot. Either way, they enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of their neighborhood, and we have a good time. No phone conversations or music necessary.
Barbara Wood says
It wasn’t until I involved my dog in the awesome sport K9 Nose Work, that I realized how important it is to them.
My Basset is over the top enthusiastic about the game. It gives him so much pleasure he literally jumps for joy when he see his search harness, telling him the game is on.
He has gained confidence, ( he was an extremely fearful pup ) learned to problem solve and comes home tired ,relaxed and is one happy dog.
Me… I have learned to let my dog be a dog, and how our dogs see the world. They sniff it.
We take an long walk daily, at least an hour and I make sure he has ample sniff time. There is nothing he would rather do. Than read the neighborhood pee mail.
And honestly….. We go on energetic walks and he is so willing to keep up and heel. I truly believe it is because he is gets to do what he was born to through K9 Nose Work and he knows that he will have the opportunity to sniff on our walks as well. I also, use a release “go sniff”.
I loved your article on finding what make your dog happy. I realize also that sniffing is a big plus on the happy side for Bosley.
Next…. letting him roll in dead things and being OK with that. Oh he does it, I’m just not happy about it. Our “leave it” well !
june lay says
I too have seen dog parents pull their dogs away from the very thing that is a vital natural need for them to smell the world around them. They can smell amazing things such as the pea they r smelling came from a female or male.
I also see people on their smartphone the entire walk, missing some of the joy of observing their dog and outdoor time together.
I sometimes wonder why people share their lives with dogs.
Sara Pickett says
Being a dog trainer myself, I tell clients that probably 90% of us are on the walk because we have the dog. I also tell them that they are dogs and they love sniffing everything. We don’t train them to be robots, we should let them be dogs. We always say as long as they are not dragging you down the street, let them sniff to their hearts content! If you need to walk for your exercise, leave the pooch at home and go for it.
Excellent blog! I too do nose work and what I’ve learned is that even watching my dogs on our walks can be a huge learning experience. They are both reactive and I used to always be scanning my surroundings, getting ready to take evasive action or shovel treats down their throats. Now all I need to do is watch the dogs – they let me know when another dog is near. Or rabbit. Or big cat. I can just scan downwind, where they won’t capture scent from, and leave it at that. It’s made walking much more relaxing for me, and therefore for them. And I have learned a lot more of how they follow scent, how scent moves, etc. It really is fascinating to watch once you make it a priority. Walks are never boring for us!
For health reasons, I absolutely cannot let my grrls free sniff while on walks – if I give them slack leash, they immediate start snacking on dirt and poop. I am particularly concerned about them picking up parasites from the poop. (Yes, in my neighborhood people apparently think that walking dogs at night relieves them of the responsibility to pick up the poop.) W are lucky enough to have a fenced back yard so I keep it picked up and I let them have stints out there to sniff at their pleasure.
My husband thinks going for a walk is going steadily along at 3 mph and won’t stop to let the dogs sniff or do their business unless reminded to. I call it a “forced march”.
One of my dogs, Phoebe, when she was younger (it seems to have dissipated as she’s aged) made a loud click, click, click noise when she was on a good scent trail. It sounded like someone was in her nasal cavity with a clicker rewarding every good inhale. I’d never heard that sound with any of our other dogs (including a bloodhound). For her, scent is a blessing and a curse. She really likes some smells but has a really strong, negative, visceral reaction to other dogs’ markings. We’ve had to leave some walking trails because there were too many pee smells and she wouldn’t walk among them.
Olive, on the other hand, is truly a ground hunter. In a nano-second, she can sniff out a tiny piece of a treat from the summer before that was unearthed when the snow melted. But her compulsion to over mark outweighs her exploratory desires. She will remember where she marked over someone else’s pee or poop weeks ago and march over to sniff and sniff and make sure her pee is still on top. If it’s not, she’ll re-mark more adamantly. Dedication to the job, we call it.
Once, I got on the ground and inhaled long and deep to see if there was any hope of smelling what they smelled after my dogs had spent quite a bit of time sniffing a spot in the field. Nothing.
The veterinary who gave the seminar on canine structure was Christin Finn of Equisport Medicine in Kingston, WA. I remember it being taped but I guess the tape didn’t work out since I can’t find it posted anywhere. All I found was this one which is of a horse. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kV3Gnse1V3A
I wish she had one posted of the dogs that she’s helped by encouraging them to spend time sniffing. There was a puppy that couldn’t use his back legs but once he got used to sniffing the back end got stronger and he learned to use his back legs and a 14 year old dog that came in as a euthanasia consult because he could barely move. That dog got another 3.5 years of active life through nosework. It was pretty amazing stuff. Both of mine get plenty of time to sniff, lots of “find it” games, and so forth. We’ve played around with tracking and I’ve been entertained to see how their different styles influence how they work. Someone hides in the yard and the dog is brought out and told to find whoever it is. Ranger puts his nose down and starts looking for the track. Finna puts her nose up and starts looking for the general direction. Ranger follows the track until he gets close then his head goes up and he finds the person. Finna heads in the direction the most scent seems to be coming from until she stumbles across the track then her nose goes down and she follows the track until she almost bumps into the person. If we bring them out together to track Finna stands there until Ranger identifies the track then takes off along it like a rocket. I wish there were formal nosework classes around here. I think both dogs would love them. I think Finna, with her love of hunting rodents, would also adore barn hunt although as reactive as she is a competition would be way more than she could stand. It would be fun to train her in it though.
I created a dog park that is primarily tall grass just for the dogs to sniff and I think it is cruel not to let dogs have their sniffing time. I think it goes along with the fact that most people want to get their dogs exercised as fast as possible and while that may get them physically tired how much fun is it for the dog.
Since my Dexy was a baby some 23 years ago, my dog walks have been all about letting the dogs sniff. Two hours sounds about right although I generally don’t have much time to read with my current two, Selli expects me to pay attention just in case she flushes a rabbit (as her sight hound, I am expected to tell her what direction it ran).
Finally, the issue of rude dogs and inconsiderate owners, that is an issue of training and consideration not of people letting their dogs sniff. My pups do not bother other dogs or other people and if I see someone with a dog, heck if I see another person I call my pups to me and depending on where we are we may leave the path.
One of the things I like so much about off-leash walking with my dogs is that they get the two-fer of both running (or trotting or occasionally mooching along right at my side) and sniffing, something I can’t as effectively offer on leashed walks. Especially appealing is the fact that being off leash allows both Otis the dawdler and Sandy the forward sweeper to be comfortable and satisfied at the same time. On leash walks, I do try to compromise by allowing regular sniff stops but balancing that with brisk forward movement,( sometimes running) to keep both dogs comfortable. Otis loves to savor smells, but Sandy first and foremost wants to MOVE, so it’s not just me that fails to fully appreciate the complex delights of a hedge near a corner.
What I find helps, in the effort to strike the balance is to stop at some high interest areas for a short session but then give Otis a verbal cue, “ok, let’s go” to let him know that we’re moving on a few seconds before we do- it seems to help him to start his mind transitioning from sniff mode to travel mode.
Still, my first preference will always be off-leash, for pure ease and efficiency’s sake as much as anything, though I would point out something else- for my dogs and pretty much all dogs I see at the park (an admittedly biased sample) the desire to sniff is fundamental, but the desire to stay with their human is nearly always MORE compelling (just not the desire to remain RIGHT next to their human at every second). Otis and Sandy aren’t as reliable as they are owing to any great skill of mine- instinct drives them as much or more than training. Sometimes I think dogs who have one drive (sniffing, running) consistently frustrated struggle to fully develop their other instinctive social drives (stay together, coordinate motion as a group) as well as they might. Then again, maybe it’s the same as anything else- how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice.
Linda In Bend says
No doubt this is why Joey is infatuated with Barn Hunt. I’ve never seen him so excited about anything. He loves sniffing out every rat at a frenzied pace.
Sheri Bieter says
We have an English Shepherd, I am just now reading your book “The other end of the leash”. I feel like I should know, but what is my dog saying when she looks at me and when I look back at her she backs away a bit? (still looking at me) We also live in Wisconsin, on a hobby farm by the way.
I have blogged about this very thing before! I have two dogs and one of them will pretty much sniff EVERY blade of grass that she can. And I let her. The walk is for HER after all. So what if it takes us 25 minutes to walk around the block? It’s what makes her happy. And so we take our slow amble around the block to let her sniff absolutely everything. My younger dog is very GO GO GO but he does enjoy sniffing some, so I let him sniff as long as he wants whenever he stops to do it.
I am very fortunate to have multiple large fenced pastures and orchards where my dog can run free and sniff to their heart’s content. This past summer we planted a cover crop of Sorghum in our very large vegetable garden. The Sorghum was over 6′ tall. The dogs like to go in the garden and after it cooled off enough that snakes were no longer a consideration, I took them in garden with me one day. I would never have dreamed how much they loved going in the Sorghum… Forget corn mazes for people. They need Sorghum patches for dogs! My trio literally dove into the patch and disappeared from sight. The only sign of them was when the tops of the grain would rustle as a dog brushed through the stalks. They would literally spend hours in there, sniffing around, emerging at odd moments with wide open, happy grin, tongue lolling out and eyes as bright as could be. They’d wag past me and then jump back in. I have never seen such pure doggy enjoyment in my whole life with dogs. We have decided that a Sorghum patch will be planted every year. So little work for such an incredible amount of pleasure! Never underestimate the beneficial energy drain that occurs when sniffing fascinating scents. My trio would be completely calm and sleep for hours after their Sorghum induced sniffing euphoria!
The first 20 min., or so of the walk is entirely theirs. They can stop and sniff as much as they want, they just can’t pull on the leash. Then we take turns, sometimes they have to walk for a bit, “Formation” (I have two dogs, Spencer on the left and Hattie on the right). “Release” means they can sniff again. If they look at me and ask politely at any time, they either get a “go sniff” or “leave it”. If it all sounds neat, tidy and perfect, it’s not. Sometimes, for example, the thing they want to sniff is on a neighbor’s porch, or inside someone’s car. (That’s what you get when you train a dog for nose work and people leave food in their cars). But everyone has a say and everyone has a good time.
I miss the leisurely, extended walks where my dog explores and catches up on all the new smells. With the recent frigid temperatures, most of our walks are business trips. Max knows it because we repeatedly walk the same route for these. The look he gives me when I tell him, “let’s go this way” and we head past the business trip turn off point is delightful. He seems so joyful at that moment. So when it warms up a little later this week, we’ll head the long way. Due to a building project at the back of the house, he can’t be out to roam the back yard – so he is really having a sniff-deficit this winter.
Christy Paxton says
Another great topic! I pound on clients all the time to let them sniff — inside, outside, wherever. I tell them the dog needs to “take inventory” so they know what everything is, what to do (or not do) with it, and won’t be afraid of it. I recommend a New House Tour: armed with treats and on leash, do a walk-around of your whole house, marking and rewarding all sniffing without grabbing, turn aways and walk aways. They are much less likely to pick up stuff that’s not theirs!
For outside walking, I have “walking” and “wandering.” Wandering is my darling girl Tawny doing her own thing while I follow her. Because she no longer pulls and is very responsive, she is wandering most of the time. She is 12+ and losing her hearing, so all cues are non-verbal: I slow down and let go excess leash, plus give her a hand signal OK so she knows it’s her time. When I want her to come back or move on, I wave if she’s looking; if not, I lightly “nudge” her collar twice or lay a light hand on her butt till she looks, then sweep my hand forward so she knows it’s time to go. I give her time for a pee-mail she usually needs to leave before continuing.
Finally, about the right nostril — do you think that ties into the right-tail-wag thing (right wag “poitive”; left wag “negative”)? Ooooh, all so interesting!
Jane Messineo Lindquist (Killion) says
Take your dog for a sniff. Brilliant. Yes, please. Sometimes all it takes is a simple phrase like this to give people permission to embrace and enjoy their dogs for what they are. This is an example of a meme that could change the world…I hope people take this to heart.
Very interesting post and it made me think how different dogs are. I have a sighthound / (greyhound), for whom sniffing is important while we’re in town (and particularly when we lived just round the corner from a take-away shop and every evening walk turned into a hunt for food that people had dropped), but once we get out & about scanning for rabbits etc becomes more important and she spends a good part of the walk with her nose in the air, rather than on the ground. She will obviously still also stop & sniff every now and then, but generally we can walk forward at a good pace. Even more so when we are in an area that she doesn’t know very well.
Having said that, there are obviously also big differences between individuals. Recently I looked after my sister’s two sighthounds and took all three of them on a lead walk. Two of them were keen to move forward, number three would have stopped every few meters for extensive sniffing – I tried to find a compromise that suited all of us…
Also just wanted to mention how much fun sniffing games at home can be (hiding treats, using a snufflemat or a ball pit…) – great fun even for a sighthound because at home she can finally relax and doesn’t have to look out for rabbits…
I train service dogs, and they are to be focused on me, their trainer. Whenever they get off track, it’s a quick correction followed by “leave it” and “let’s go”. Is that the correct way to handle my puppy-in-training?
I try to remember to let my guys sniff, but as someone else said, “sniffing” frequently turns into “finding something to eat.” I’m reminded not-so-fondly of the time I let my girl, Sydney, stop and have a sniff, only to be repulsed when she picked up a detached squirrel tail that was also, evidently, crawling with ants (I’m convinced the ONLY reason she dropped the thing was because ants were crawling up her nose). She’s also a voracious poop-eater, and once–also when I let her stop and sniff–she ate some poop (probably raccoon, though I maintain it was radioactive as well) that made her sick to the tune of explosive diarrhea. Sadly, Sydney has a history of eating things she shouldn’t, despite my best efforts, and has quite a reputation at our vet clinic.
I am very, VERY careful when and where I let Sydney sniff. She is not a candidate for off-leash time, ever. At all. My oldest boy, Darwin, is better, and he gets quite a lot of leeway and sniff-breaks, while Seeker, the 9 month-old baby, unfortunately appears to be taking after his big sister in the sniff-and-eat department. No detached squirrel tails yet, though.
“Scent walk” reminds me of my first dog – a 45-pound beagle mix who lived through her nose.
Out of curiosity one day I put her on the leash and let her go wherever her nose led her. She led us across a 6-lane highway (!) and then straight to the kitchen door and dumpster of every single fast-food joint and restaurant along the highway.
So now I know – food hounds dream of fast food garbage. And rabbits, of course. 🙂
Kara, for both of mine, “something to eat” turned into recurring rounds of clostridium perfringens that have now turned into a life-long management issue. They both get pumpkin and quality probiotics every day to keep their guts healthy, and we had so many bouts that Maddie had to be on antibiotics for 2 months straight and I keep metronidazole at the house (have I ever mentioned how much I adore my vet?) for emergency relapses.
Yes, it’s that bad.
I still allow sniffing but it’s hard to totally relax about it.
Alice R. says
My 10 month old pup can walk for 30 min without ever lifting his nose from the ground, sometimes walking, sometimes glued to one spot. He is given plenty of time to sniff familiar and unfamiliar each day, but is not reliable at all so is off leash only in our yard. I use a super long lead at times to give him at least the feeling of freedom. We are still working on “don’t pull me walking” which has been difficult for a couple of reasons. One, a knee problem keeps me from stopping as suddenly as I’d like at the first pull. Second, when he is in super sniff mode, he does not even know I exist even with a handful of hot dog or liver. It amazes me, and when we are done with our manners classes (did puppy, basic, advanced, and now in CGC), we will take a nose class both for his enjoyment and so I can get the behavior under some kind of control. He is a super aware of everything dog, more than any I’ve owned, so that distraction has really slowed down reliability outside the house. It’s an odd combination: and easy to train dog that is difficult to get reliability from. I’m learning…
And I should add, here is how good Jack’s nose is at finding food:
We have a small island on wheels in our breakfast area. In the cabinet are towels, treats, 30-foot leads, etc. On top is a very large tin that holds about 15 pounds of dog food, and some smaller tins with treats. We also keep glucosamine supplements here.
At meal time, we take the bowls to the island and scoop out their food and add various supplements, so the whole area must smell strongly of dog food.
Last night, after the dogs had eaten, I was sitting in living room. Jack was in the kitchen and he gave a few short, sharp, soft barks. Those are his “Mom, I’d take care of this myself, but I don’t have thumbs” barks.
I went in to see what he wanted.
He was sitting politely by the island, looking up. I went over and looked and saw nothing out of place. I asked “What’s up, buddy?” and he woofed again.
I looked more carefully. On the counter of the island, hidden behind two pill bottles and underneath a roll of vet wrap, was a single piece of kibble. Which I gave him.
He has done this before, many times. He is right, every time. Sometimes it’s a treat crumb, sometimes a piece of food. But despite the fact that we just dished the food and the smell is pervasive, apparently the difference between “The food was dished here 20 minutes ago” and “There is actually a piece of loose food hiding there, right now!” is obvious enough to him that he can find it from the ground, despite being entirely too short to see the top of the cabinet.
Needless to say, walking through a park where people have picnicked and kids have dropped goldfish crackers and someone maybe had a dog treat and the dog lost a crumb can be a bit of an adventure.
Chloe De Segonzac says
It is very sad to me to see the disconnect, the misunderstanding between human and dogs.
Because dogs are willing to please people do not bother learning about their needs. If the animal was a python or even a horse it would be a very different story.
I am a little tired of constantly having to remind dog owners to not bike their dogs midday when it’s hot, to not leave their dogs alone outside for days to give them real food etc etc.
@trisha ; i do use ‘eeeeaaasssyyyy’ occasionally which helps a bit. Just a typical walk with my two sibes looks like this ; http://youtu.be/FZajcpI5ld4 for those who want to see me struggle ? in the beginning we pass a fence with two sheperds that bark ferociously, which sets them off, the we gon into a small wooded area with lots of deer. As you can see they suddenly dive to the right: we often see deer or pheasants there. Sometimes it helps to let them watch and smell for a bit but if the deer are actually there, they can get very hyper. Son for me it’s a balancing act when to let them snuff and when to ask them to walk on…
Sarah Hodgson says
With my five dogs, walking them all simultaneously here in suburbian NY takes some effort. It takes over 15 minutes just to get everyone’s leashes straight. Instead I grab a cup of coffee, sneak out before the sun and let them explore in the woods just beyond our home. I’d never given any thought to why set off on long excursions, only that I thought it was odd that I didn’t. Just watching them in their element–like you say–sniffing about would give me heart stopping pleasure. In an article I wrote for the Huffington Post title “11 Ways You Can Do Your Dog Right” you’ll notice #8 is exercise is over-rated. I feel like the greatest nugget from the post is to realize that we people walk, survey and chat, while dogs follow a scented pathway. Congratulations on the book! I look forward to reading it!
I apologize if this seems a stupid question or a topic that you’ve discussed before, but have you tried training them to heel with an eye to walking with a loose leash? I ask because they really do seem to be taking you for a frustrated drag (pulling is their breed purpose after all, so I imagine they have a strong impulse to do it, but it can only be frustrating and uncomfortable both for them and you at this pace) rather than a companionable walk.
One thing I would personally do if I were walking them along the road is swap the long leads for shorter leashes with some kind of anti-pull tool (either a no-pull harness or head collar) . I have two reasons: first, a strong pulling dog on a long leash can be much harder to manage because they can build up quite a lot of momentum before they hit the end, especially if they change direction. I’m not against them in all circumstances, but I have anecdotally found long leads much safer and more pleasant to use in open fields where the impulse to forge FORWARD! is less pronounced. Second, your ability to influence your dogs is severely reduced when they’re way out ahead like that- both physically and emotionally, they’re just harder to manage when they’re not near you.
For all that sniffing and the freedom to relax is so important, not every dog can or even wants to experience it in the same way. To hark back to the pyramid of needs, sniffing is certainly important, but safety and physiological wellbeing (yours and theirs) have to come first. Plus, a dog relentlessly pulling you along is not actually experiencing a sense of freedom, no matter how long the lead, so if it were me, and I absolutely do recognize that it’s NOT, and you, of course, know your own dogs better than I, I’d go short and try to get the pulling under control before I reintroduced a longer lead.
Just my two cents, and I apologize if this was impertinent of me. Good luck!
Sarah McDonough says
My question is that my dog likes to sniff himself. Once or twice a day he sniffed his private parts his tail his glands in his pants and it takes great interest in this. I don’t know if this is normal or not. He’s not a big liquor. When I go for him with a walk allow him time to sniff things which makes the water much easier. Is it normal for a dog to want to sniff himself that much? And if not what do I do about it?
Sarah McDonough says
Forgive the auto correct.
@em don’t worry, I posted the video, so feel free to comment. Your first comment made me smile “have you tried training them to heel”. Wel… yes ;-). Actually in class as a young dog we passed our exam as best of the class. When I talked with the trainer about him pulling so hard, he was very amazed. Anyway, I think I tried just about every method & most anti-pull tools. Including the head halter. Occasionally I still use that, but Spot really hates it (Shadow hardly ever pulls, occasionally for a short stretch or he forgets sometimes where the end of the leash is, but we nicknamed him our jojo dog: he’ll come bounding back and even walks besides us for longe stretches. I love having him on a flexi leash since when he walks on a normal lead, I keep tripping up because he walks beside me and Spot pulls).
I’ve been thinking a lot about Sibes & pulling (one of our previous Sibes always pulled, out of principle it seemed) and there motivation to pull and how they feel about it. I once told a friend: Siberians do not pull to get somewhere, they pull to get somewhere faster, and that somewhere is anywhere other than here. They don’t really mind having to drag you. Spot & Chenak, our ‘pullers” on walks, were/are mentally also the better sleddogs, that do not give up. Janouk & Shadow give up when the going gets tough (e.g. dragging the scooter uphill trough mud)
Then there is the desire to be up front. The first time we tested them out as sleddogs, they would not rest until they passed our older dog Janouk. It also means that walking two dogs is much more challenging than one.
That is another thing I am trying to figure out: what makes a walk good or bad. In me, in the dog, in the circumstances. (yes, and that is what makes me absolutely crazy sometimes: we do have walks like this one: https://youtu.be/Rjg8KARD6Gc as well. This is on a truly long lead, 10 mrs which I NEVER use when walking both of them, your remark about the momentum is spot on). I truly think there is no easy solution: according to my hubby we can start a dog-leash & harness museum ;-). I do know that a slightly longer lead (the one in the film is 3 mtrs, I filmed with a wide angle lens, so maybe it looks a lot longer) is a bit easier than a really short leash (1,5-2 mtrs) since with this length, they can sniff and pee.
And we are making progress: with Trisha’s method of loose leash walking (as opposed to a “be a tree method” we used) Spot is heeling occasionally OUT OF FREE WILL! He is starting to walk beside me sometimes! Short walks he can do without pulling. Longer ones are still a work in progress and I think I will never be able to totally walk without him pulling. And yes, it is not nice sometimes, frustrating. I guess Spot is teaching me the meaning of “keel calm and carry on” . On one of our bad days, it can be so nice to talk Shad on a walk and come home totally relaxed. On the other hand, hey, I love to take Spot scootering as well.
Sorry for the long post. Hope you don’t mind going wildly off topic…
It certainly sounds as though you have the issue well in hand! It is so awfully hard to find that balance of what works for everyone when you’ve got dogs with different styles, isn’t it? Best of luck.
Sniff walks with some autonomy built in has truly helped my relationship with my dog. Although I love hiking and trekking, some of MY favourite trails to do that with my dog can be some of the most boring for her (nice views, poor sniff factor). Therefore, she gets an hour sniff walk for her first walk. Some of her favourite places to sniff are really interesting and places I would never have found out myself if I hadn’t let her lead me to where she really likes to sniff. She is definitely much calmer after these walks compared to if we had been out for a march around the block or a game of ball.
One of the most insidious things I read in one of Cesar Millan’s book was that he advised that during the 30 minute leash walk he recommended, the dog should not be allowed to sniff the ground. (!)
Renata Suzuki says
To be consistent with what you write, taking more pictures of your dogs sniffing is like saying I’ll take more pictures of a person with their eyes open, is it not? I really like this blogpost, sniffing old and new scents with different nostrils, I have taken pictures of my setters sniffing…glorious! Not sure if I want to get down on the ground next to a pile of poop and pee for a city picture, but rolling in leaves was fun 🙂
Jan Dunlap says
When I adopted our dog – my first dog ever!- I made it a rule she gets to sniff as much as she wants on walks. Those walks changed my life as well, as I learned to live in the moment more completely. I wish every dog owner thought this way!
I train my dogs to pay attention to me when they are walking with me on leash. They are not allowed to sniff the ground, pull me to a spot, pull to another dog, or mark whenever and where ever they want. My dogs can sniff when I give them a free to sniff and do potty break command. And they also can sniff all they want when I arrive with them at their destination of our walk whereas they will be allowed off leash.
Dogs can still smell when they are walking on leash without sniffing the ground. There are smells everywhere in the air. Not letting a dog sniff the ground is not the same as walking a dog blindfolded. Besides, teaching a dog the proper way to walk on leash makes the walk more enjoyable, less stressful, and relaxing for both parties. It is not just the dog’s walk, it is a pack walk being lead by the packleader, which is the owner.
About the remark regarding the “interesting things on the walk” being smell, dogs should find their owners the most interesting thing–not the smell on the ground– or how else can you make them listen to you when off leash under heavy distraction?
I am wondering if you know of any research regarding particular smells that can be used to calm an anxious dog. My dog has a very high sense of smell which I believe acts as a trigger leading to anxiety. Since you mention the right nostril specifically, I am curious if there is a scent and a way to place that scent close to the right nostril to act as a distraction from scents that may trigger anxious responses. Thank you.
January 12, 2016 at 11:25 am
I foster dogs for a rescue and I can always tell when a new foster dog has lived in the city or has never been allowed to sniff. I take the dogs through our wooded trails. (New foster dog always on leash until I can trust them to not run away.) “City” dogs never sniff the ground as we walk around for one or more days. Then, all of a sudden, noses go down and the sniffing begins!”…..
She screwed up those dogs she taught to sniff the ground. Letting a dog’s nose touch the ground is as irresponsible as letting a child play in rush hour traffic. The domesticated dog is not the naturally behaving canine people think they are. They are essentially retarded because of inbreeding(domestication). This is where dogs come from. Dogs hurt/kill them self in ways that no natural canine ever wood. A dog will drink antifreeze, natural canines won’t. A dog will eat a roll of paper towls, natural canines won’t. I could go on and on but the idea is that we have to train the little retards not to hurt/kill themselves, even if it means just a little bit of inconvenience for the dog. And if you love them, you’ll want the best for them but at no risk to them.
To Justin: Thank you for expressing your opinion, but I find that I disagree with my heart and my brain both. No one “teaches” a dog to sniff. That is their primary way of interacting with their, well… their everything, from their environment to social companions. Not allowing a dog to sniff the ground is not a “little bit of an inconvenience”. It’s not allowing a dog to be a dog. And “natural canines” don’t eat antifreeze? They would never lap up something that tastes good? That statement is based on…?