Yesterday I took Luke and Elsa out separately. I was walking down the path with Luke when I heard a statement from behind us; "see how she is letting him sniff, you should never do that." I didn't even turn to see who it was; my thoughts were on today's blog. No sniffing? What? We meandered down the path further as Luke sniffed every plant, bush and piece of grass that he wanted. He stopped now and then to have a snack; we chat a bit and keep on going. Our alone walks are pretty glorious.
So what about this "no sniffing" opinion that came from behind me? Well, this is my opinion on the statement. Sniffing? Yes, when you want to indulge your dog. But if you want to go for a power walk, jog or play chuck it; then the sniffing needs to stop. I am often asked by clients "how much should I let them sniff?" Should your dog drag you around directing every step? No. Should your walk only be sniffing? No. But should you allow your dog to sniff? Yes. It's what they do.
Many trainers will tell you "no sniffing," even famous ones but that is beyond stupid. If you allow your dog to sniff you are not enabling a dominant behavior. Sure there will be dogs who want to sniff the whole time and when you don't want them to, they shouldn't. Walks are mutually beneficial; to make it all about you or all about the dog just doesn't make sense. A walk is a time spent together; enjoying each other's company. But the fact is, if it weren't for your dog you probably wouldn't be out on this walk so let them enjoy what they love to do. At least for a while.
I like to give my dogs a good opportunity to sniff; it is what dogs do, they read their peemail on a walk. The more new places you go the more new scents to sniff. I probably allow 1/4 of the time spent on sniffing. That can be on-leash sniffing or off running around sniffing on their own. But it all depends on the dog; some are sniffers, some are not. My little Jessie (JRT) use to sniff each blade of grass up and down, it took her forever. But it is was what she loved to do; that and dig. So more time was allotted for her sniffing time; especially as she got older.
Elsa is a crazy sniffer but her sniffing is more of a constant. She sniffs the ground as we walk and if a dog has walked right ahead of us she sniffs each foot step that the dog took. It doesn't often interfere with our walk but is just an added activity while we walk. Luke likes to stop a lot to sniff. He gets to sniff often but then there are times when I want him to get some more exercise and we just walk with no sniffing stops.
Life is far to short to not stop and smell the roses or any other scent for that matter.