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No one enjoys when a dog is sniffing inappropriately. It can be not only annoying but also embarrassing and sometimes messy if your dog greets you in business attire or nice clothing the same way he welcomes other dogs. This simple greeting from your dog can leave slobber on your clothes. Sniffing while walking can also become distracting and drag out walks, leaving you pulling your dog along rather than enjoying a nice casual walk or a walk which increases your heart rate for exercise. Teaching your dog to stop sniffing, whether it's inappropriate sniffing on people or distracted sniffing everything in his path, is something you're going to want to teach your dog early on so that you can enjoy your time with your dog and have guests over without him putting them in embarrassing situations!
Training your dog to stop sniffing will depend on the situation your dog sniffs most often. If your dog is sniffing anything and everything he comes across while you are walking, you are going to want to do this training on walks. If your dog is sniffing you or other people he greets inappropriately, you're going to need to set up some of these situations to train your dog during an occasion where he sniffs typically. You will also want to teach your dog some basic commands such as ‘sit’ and ‘leave it.’ The ‘leave it’ command can be used for any sniffing to get your dog's attention and tell him to leave whatever it is he has interest in alone.
Training your dog to stop sniffing will require a bit of patience. You can teach any dog to stop sniffing at any age. But you will need some patience and consistency. Be sure to have a leash if you're taking your dog on walks--and some tasty treats to provide your dog to celebrate a job well done. Train basic commands so you can use them during this training.
The Off-Leash Leave It Method
Hold a treat in your hand and let your dog sniff it.
As soon as your dog sniffs the treat say the command ‘leave it.’ Once he draws his attention away from sniffing your hand, offer him a treat from your other hand.
Repeat these steps until you can hold your hand up without a treat hidden inside, use the command, and have your dog withdraw his attention from your hand.
Place a treat on the floor and cover it with your hand. When your dog goes to sniff your hand, use the command ‘leave it’ as you did above.
When your dog diverts his attention away from your hand, offer him the treat.
Continue to practice these steps above until you are using the command to ‘leave it’ with anything you show your dog from hidden treats to toys you have in your hand. Any time you use the command ‘leave it,’ your dog should divert his attention from the object and earn a treat.
When you are out and about and your dog is sniffing inappropriately, use the command ‘leave it.’ Be sure to offer your dog a reward each time he obeys.
The Appropriate Sniffing Method
Take your dog on walks where you know other animals visit quite often. Allow him, while on the walk, to satiate his senses and sniff everything he likes to sniff. This may mean a very slow walk for you, as he may pause every few seconds to stop and sniff.
Hide treats in puzzle toys around your yard and allow your dog to sniff until he finds them. As soon as he finds these hidden treats, let him have them.
Teach your dog commands such as ‘sit’ and ‘leave it.’ When you are on walks, allow your dog to sniff things that are appropriate, however, when it is inappropriate, use the command to have your dog sit in place and stop what he's doing. You can also teach your dog to 'leave it' so he doesn't sniff something he shouldn't.
Once your dog's nose has been filled with all of the scents his body can handle, when he comes to you and sniffs you inappropriately stand firm. Do not take a step back as your dog will follow you and continue if you are submissive to your dog. Stand firm and use a command to get your dog to 'sit' or to 'leave it'.
As your dog is getting used to new commands as well as learning not to sniff inappropriately, be sure to reward him along his training path. Don't reward him when he sniffs inappropriately, however, do reward him when he obeys the commands such as ‘sit’ while you are trying to redirect him to another activity outside of inappropriate sniffing.
The On-Leash Leave It Method
Leash your dog and have a friend visit you.
When your friend walks in the door, greet the friend with your dog on a leash. Allow your dog’s leash to be somewhat loose, giving him free reign to greet your friend as well.
As he walks over towards your friend, ask your dog to sit. Give him a treat once he obeys.
If your dog greets your friend by sniffing his or her crotch, gently tug on the leash and take a step backward, encouraging your dog to step back with you. Use the command ‘leave it.’
As soon as your dog leaves your guest alone and stops sniffing, ask your dog to ‘sit.’ Be sure to reward him for a job well done.
Practice these steps with your dog on a leash around various people. You can take your dog for a walk around the neighborhood or invite more friends over.
Written by Stephanie Plummer
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 11/15/2017, edited: 01/08/2021
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