How to Train Your Dog to Stop Sniffing

How to Train Your Dog to Stop Sniffing
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon3-6 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

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!

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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.

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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.

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The Off-Leash Leave It Method

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1

Hidden treat

Hold a treat in your hand and let your dog sniff it.

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.

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.

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.

5

Reward

When your dog diverts his attention away from your hand, offer him the treat.

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.

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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.

The Appropriate Sniffing Method

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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.

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.

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.

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'.

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.

The On-Leash Leave It Method

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1

Leash

Leash your dog and have a friend visit you.

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.

3

Sit

As he walks over towards your friend, ask your dog to sit. Give him a treat once he obeys.

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.’

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.

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.

By Stephanie Plummer

Published: 11/15/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Marley

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Golden Retriever

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3 Years

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Question

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His recall is excellent until he sees another dog and he’s off, he completely ignores me, he use to be submissive and roll over but now he’s annoying to other dogs going round in circles sniffing them, then he rolls over and over into the dog and the owner for attention but I’m frightened he’s going to hurt a little dog, I have to keep him on a lead around other dogs, I’ve just had a man have ago at me because he was pulling me, he really is a nightmare at the min, he’s screeching to get to other dogs, I’ve been pulled over a few times and he’s really hurt me, I’ve tried every training method possible even police training, they said he’s a very confident dog, it’s getting me down especially when I get shouted at, Apart from this Marley is the most sweet loving boy you could want, he doesn’t touch his food until told doesn’t beg I can take him to every cafe and he’s great, he’s got worse and his sniffing is unbelievable so much so it takes me all my body to pull him away from either dog smells or rabbit smells, it’s just NOT pleasurable taking him for a walk, I walk him with his mum who runs free off a lead, he is a singleton puppy so he’s had no siblings I also look after dogs when people go on holiday and taught lots of dogs to walk to heal, I’ve tried all techniques that I know. please HELP

May 31, 2021

Marley's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Trish, Check out James Penrith from Taketheleadtraining. He works with dogs who chase and sometimes kill livestock and specializes in off-leash training. Some of the tools and methods he uses, and the way they build on each other might be good for you to look into. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoxuNKpmUs390K7x_rvgjcg Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

June 1, 2021

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Tucker

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Labrador Retriever

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8 Years

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Living in an apartment. Walks are usually to go to the bathroom but recently he sniffs so much that it is painful and I find that I am always pulling him or dragging him. He is a very strong dog and often pulls me towards what he wants to sniff or plants his legs so that I cant actually pull him away.

April 14, 2021

Tucker's Owner

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Alisha Smith - Alisha S., Dog Trainer

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Hello. You will want to teach your dog the command "leave it". Leave it is great for anything you want your dog to leave alone, stop going after, getting into, etc. Here are the steps for "leave it" Teaching a dog 'leave it' Teaching “leave it” is not difficult. Begin the lessons inside your home or in an area with very few distractions. Here are the steps for teaching “leave it”: Make sure you have two different types of treats. One type can be fairly boring to the dog, but the other type should be a high-value treat that he finds pretty delicious. You will also want to make sure that the treats are broken up into pea-sized pieces so it won’t take him too long to eat them. Put one type of treat in each hand. If you like to train with a clicker as your marker, you can also hold a clicker in the same hand that holds the high-value treat. Then, place both of your hands behind your back. Make a fist with the hand that is holding the treat of lower value and present your fist to your dog, letting him sniff. Say “leave it” and wait until he finishes sniffing your fist. As soon as your dog is done sniffing, you can either click with the clicker or say “yes.” Then offer him the higher-value treat in your other hand. Repeat until your dog immediately stops sniffing your hand when you say “leave it.” When you say “leave it” and he stops sniffing right away, leash your dog and then toss a low-value treat outside of his reach. Wait until he stops sniffing and pulling toward the treat. As soon as he does, either say “yes” or click and then give him a high-value treat from your hand. Practice this exercise a number of times. Over time, by practicing “leave it,” your dog should stop pulling as soon as you give the cue. When rewarding him with a treat, make sure that it is something good, not plain old kibble. By doing so, you are teaching him that asking him to leave some food doesn’t mean he won’t get anything, but that in fact he might get something even more delicious. When your dog is reliably responding to the cue, you can teach him that “leave it” can apply to other things as well, not just food on the floor. Repeat the exercise with five different items that are fairly boring to your dog. After using five different “boring” items, start using slightly more exciting items. You know your dog, so you alone know what items he would consider more interesting, but don’t jump to high-value items right away. To increase his chances of success at learning the cue, you want to work up to high-value items gradually. If Kleenex or a piece of plastic, for instance, would attract your dog on a walk, don’t start with those. Choose the items based on your ultimate goal: Anytime you say “leave it,” you want to be confident that your dog will indeed leave whatever you are asking him to leave. . The reward he receives when he leaves an item can change as well. If your dog has a favorite toy, squeak it and play for a moment when he comes running to you after leaving the other item of interest. Most dogs love interacting with us, so a moment of praise or play with a toy can be just as effective as a treat. Keep it fun Even though you’re practicing “leave it” as a way to keep your dog safe, you want him to see it as a fun game you play. When your dog is proficient at the game in your home, start practicing in a variety of locations with more distractions.

April 14, 2021


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