Scents of the Season

Maplewood Dog

If any kind of weather is timed to remind that fall is right around the corner, the weather we’ve had here this week is it.  Cooler, breezy, and full of smells the dogs are enthralled by.

corgi and a vizsla sniff in the grass

Often season changes prompt folks to get outside more, walking the dog.  Where the dog finds the smells of the world enticing, and often results in pulling the human.  Resulting in humans pulling back on the leash, and tensions rising.

IMG_7134The nice thing is, you can use your dog’s desire to sniff, to make for an enjoyable walk for you both.  Start the walk, before you even leave your property, with a sniff session.  You can even toss a couple of treats in the grass to encourage your dog explore their environment.  If your dog starts to move to where the leash might tighten, toss a treat in the grass to encourage your dog moving to sniff back within leash range.  After a couple of minutes, see if your dog is ready to move along and walk.

Then throughout the walk, stop to take sniff breaks.  Allow your dog to explore with their nose.  Enjoy their exploration with them.  And again if they start to near the end of the leash, encourage them to sniff within leash range by tossing a treat in the grass.  If you’re feeling really resourceful, this is a great opportunity to use the Premack Principle to your benefit as well.  Reinforce the less probable behavior (walking on a loose leash) with the more probable behavior (sniffing).  It’s the old Grandma’s rule “eat your peas then get your chocolate cake.”  Dog walking on a loose leash, leads to you prompting a sniff break, leads to the dog walking on a loose leash in hopes for the reward of a sniff break.  Win win for both ends of the leash.

5 thoughts on “Scents of the Season

  1. Great ideas! It is so sad when folks don’t let their dogs enjoy all the smells. I think of it as “reading the newspaper.” The dog just wants to know what’s being going on in their world since they were last out.

    1. Thanks. I don’t necessarily think it’s sad or happy, I think it’s all about meeting needs, balance and compromise. For example, I personally, do not particularly like going for on-leash sniff walks, it’s not fun, there is little engagement between the dogs and I and there is little actual walking. So my dogs and I compromise, we take sniff breaks during our walks, they can sniff in the back yard, and they have opportunities for off leash or long line walks where they can sniff at their own pace and I can walk too. If the rule was I had to take my dogs on on-leash sniff walks, honestly, my dogs would likely never get walked.

  2. I think of it as ‘taking inventory’ — i.e. who’s been by? and how long ago? I like the idea of using treats to manage the leash distance.

  3. This is such a good approach. I think there is much that could translate to horses as well. When I go out for a hack in the forest I try to be on a loose rein and let Biasini stretch down. I hold the reins in one hand with a loop at the end . If something happens I can grab the loop with the other hand and quickly pull it so the reins are shortened up.

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