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Let’s Go For A Sniff Walk

Imagine if your best friend took you to a botanical garden, but every time you stopped to admire a butterfly or a flower, you got tugged along to continue in their direction. Then, if they stopped to admire something, you had to stand still near them. No, you couldn’t wander away and look at things while they were there — you had just had to stand (or sit, possibly even lie down) next to them. Sometimes I wonder if that’s kind of what dogs feel like. We’re taking them on a walk, but sometimes we forget that we’re outside for them and not ourselves.

Did you know that you could take your dog on a walk designed just for them? It’s called a “sniff walk!”

Dog’s noses are hundreds, if not thousands, if not millions of times more sensitive than ours. Their noses bring them all sorts of information that we can barely begin to fathom. When they get the chance to sniff around, they get to catch up on all the smelly gossip that’s happened since last time they sniffed that spot. They just love the opportunity!

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There are days, of course, where there just isn’t much time for dilly-dallying. Maybe mornings are crunched for time and it’s just impossible be outside any longer than what it takes to get them to do their business. Totally understandable. This message is just to say, “Hey. Let’s all give our dogs the chance every now and then to really stop and smell the roses. Or in Charlotte’s case (pictured here), stop and smell the hibiscuses!”

So, how do we make that happen?

It’s pretty simple. You just leash up your dog, go outside,  let her set the pace, and maybe even the direction! Let her know that she’s free to go sniff by telling her just that. “Go Sniff!” Chances are, she’ll be thrilled to put her nose to the ground and mosey around. The object of the game is to let your dog sniff as much she wants. Even if that means standing in the same spot for much longer than you normally would allow on a typical walk.

Most of the time we feel like we need to take our dogs on these magnificent walks and cover all sorts of ground in order for it to be a good walk. How often do you find yourself getting antsy because your dog has stopped too long to smell a tree stump or mailbox? We’ve all been there. “Come on!!” we say and we make a kissy noise to encourage them to keep moving. Really long walks do have their place in the world of enrichment and exercise, but all we’re saying is that they don’t all have to be like that.

Did you know that by taking your dog on a “sniff walk,” that the mental stimulation it provides is actually comparable to physical exercise? And the best part is that you don’t have to walk nearly as far or as fast to accomplish it!

Next time you’re out with your dog and have some time to spare, see what happens if you just let your pup sniff around to her heart’s content. When it’s time for you to keep moving, just be happy and upbeat. Talk to your dog and say, “Let’s go!” and encourage her to walk on. If you know that it may be hard to get her moving once she’s really sniffing, be prepared for that by stashing some tasty treats in your pocket. When you’re ready to walk, get her attention, toss the treat on the ground ahead of you, and keep encouraging her to walk with you. Try to avoid walking straight home after you ask her to stop sniffing so that she doesn’t think that when sniffing ends, the walk is over.

Note: Not all dogs are big sniffers. If your pup could care less about sniffing around, that’s okay. Be sure to just give them the opportunities to go on walks that makes them happy. They’ll love it!

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