How to Train Your Dog to Stop Sniffing

Medium
3-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

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!

Defining Tasks

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.

Getting Started

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 On-Leash Leave It Method

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Step
1
Leash
Leash your dog and have a friend visit you.
Step
2
Greeting
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.
Step
3
Sit
As he walks over towards your friend, ask your dog to sit. Give him a treat once he obeys.
Step
4
Tug leash
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.’
Step
5
Sit again
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.
Step
6
Practice
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.
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The Off-Leash Leave It Method

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Step
1
Hidden treat
Hold a treat in your hand and let your dog sniff it.
Step
2
Command
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.
Step
3
Repeat
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.
Step
4
Hide treat
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.
Step
5
Reward
When your dog diverts his attention away from your hand, offer him the treat.
Step
6
Continue practice
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.
Step
7
While sniffing
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.
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The Appropriate Sniffing Method

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Step
1
Nose sense
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.
Step
2
Hidden treats
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.
Step
3
Commands
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.
Step
4
Stand firm
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'.
Step
5
Rewards
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.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Sandy
Boxer / pit bull
3 Years
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Question
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Sandy
Boxer / pit bull
3 Years

The area we walk our dog is frequented by many many other dogs in the neighborhood. Our dog will sniff every single bush along the walk which makes the walk take a very long time. Furthermore when we are walking the dog to a destination She sniffs every tree and bush along the way and can be very stubborn when we are trying to get somewhere on time. What is the best way to train her to know when it is appropriate to sniff her surroundings and when she needs to focus on getting somewhere?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
53 Dog owners recommended

Hello Evan, I would recommend teaching Sandy a very focused, business-like "Heel" command. Have her walk right beside you in the heel position during walks with her head up. Be firm and do not let her pull you around or sniff things. Have her pee in your yard before you go on a walk so that she does not have to during the walk and you can feel confident that any peeing attempts are just her trying to mark and not a real need. When you get somewhere where you want to let her sniff, then tell her "Okay" or give her a "Go Sniff" command. Do this to indicate that she can sniff while you are standing there IF she does not pull you. When you are ready for her to stop sniffing, tell her to "Heel" again, and do not allow her to sniff anymore until you release her to sniff again. The general criteria for her for walks should be attentive, by your side, and in the heel position, an only being allowed to sniff when she has been specifically given permission and not at any other time. You will need to be more stubborn than she is on this and correct any attempts to sniff while heeling. You can also reward her for being in the heel position so that she is motivated to pay attention to you, in addition to correcting her for trying to sniff or pull. Your attitude should be, "Paying attention to me and following me is non-negotiable. I will reward you if you obey, but even you do not want the reward you still have to obey". A structured "Heel", where she works on focusing on you and following you, will also help with her rude pulling behavior and stubbornness by increasing her respect for you. Check out this article for teaching a "Heel" command: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel From that article, I recommend using either the "Turns" method or combining methods. Turning directly in front of your dog when he starts to move past you tends to work best to adjust your dog's attitude as well as his position if your dog is rude. If you are still struggling you can also use a training tool such as a Prong Collar, Gentle Leader, or No- Pull Harness. Do not use a choke chain though because they can cause trachea damage. Although it looks fierce, the Prong Collar is actually much safer than the choke collar and several other devices, but it needs to be worn at the top of the dog's neck and it needs to be tight enough to stay in-place without pushing into the skin. Loose might seem gentler, but Prong Corrections when fitted and used correctly should actually require smaller tugs and should simply create uncomfortable pinches. They should not worn as large mental links that are loose around the neck, that when suddenly tightened bang against the neck. Banging can cause damage. If you use a tool, do not simply pull on the leash whenever the dog starts to pull. You need to teach "Heel" and to utilize turns to so that your dog learns to pay attention to your movement. She will be automatically corrected when the leash tightens because she is too far away if she does not stay with you. Be very careful with your dog's head and neck if you choose to use a Gentle Leader though. You do not want to whip her head around too fast during a turn. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Zac
Beagle Harrier
18 Months
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Question
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Zac
Beagle Harrier
18 Months

he is not good at recall and doesn't know his limit when playing with other dogs, he would steal their ball and won't let them alone

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainier
53 Dog owners recommended

Hello Maz, To improve Zac's recall work on "The Reel In Method" from this article that I have linked bellow: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall "The Reel In Method" will reinforce the fact that Zac has to come when you call him, and not just when he feels like it. It will also allow you to practice "Come" in the presence of distractions while he is safely on the long leash and cannot run off. When he is doing well with the training, then you must take him places to practice it in order for him to improve. You can only expect him to come when he is distracted if you have worked on "Come" around other distractions beforehand. The outcome is worth it though! Also teach him an "Out" command, and use that command to interrupt his rude behavior with other dogs. He likely needs his interactions with other dogs to be more structured as well. Some dogs do not do well off-leash without structure or when toys or food is involved. Going on walks with other dogs, having play dates with very specific dogs that he will not be rude toward, where you can control the interaction better, and working on his obedience and attention in the presence of other dogs who are at a distance, are all better ways for him to interact with other dogs, and those types of interactions will encourage calm behavior more. Working on his obedience and having him learn a "Sit Stay" well enough for him to remain seated when you throw a ball may also help. When hunting dogs are taught to retrieve alongside other dogs, they are taught to "Honor" another dog's retrieve and remain seated in the presence of something extremely exciting, a falling bird! Such self-control would be beneficial for Zac too, but it will take a lot of practice on your end. To teach him an "Out" command, first call him over to you, then toss a treat several feet away from yourself while pointing to the area where you are tossing the treat with the finger of your treat tossing hand and saying "Out" at the same time. Repeat this until he will go over to the area where you point when you say "Out" before you have tossed a treat. When he will do that, then whenever you tell him "Out" and he does not go to where you are pointing, walk toward him and herd him out of the area with your body. Your attitude should be calm and patient but very firm and business like when you do this. When you get to where you were pointing to, then stop and wait until he either goes away or stops trying to go back to the area where you were standing before. When he is no longer trying to get past you, then slowly walk backwards to where you were before. If he follows you, then tell him "Out" again and quickly walk toward him until he is back to where he was a moment ago. Repeat this until he will stay several feet away from where you were when you told him "Out" originally. When you are ready for him to come back, then tell him "OK" in an up beat tone of voice. Practice this training until he will consistently leave the area when you tell him "Out". When he will consistently leave, then practice the training with other areas that you would like for him to leave, such as the kitchen when you are preparing food, a person's space when he is being pushy, an area with a plant that he is trying to dip up, or somewhere with something in your home that he should not be bothering. "Out" means simply means get out of the area. It is a spacial command. A dog does not have to stay or sit or lay down when he leaves the area, but he is not allow to return to that area until he is told "OK". When Zac is bothering another dog, then you can tell him "Out", to indicate that he should get out of that dog's space. You will need to be consistent though and enforce the command if he does not listen, so that he learns that "Out" is also not optional. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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