Did you know your dog can smell independently out of each nostril? This makes it possible for them to track down and pinpoint the exact location of any given odour. Sniffing is a natural way for your dog to decompress their brain. For dogs that tend to be stressed out outside, have low confidence, or are too excited, taking them on a Sniff-Along walk (a wide-down, decompression walk) can be a confidence-building and therapeutic activity. Introducing a 15-20 minute decompression walk into your dog’s routine three days a week can greatly impact their mental health and overall behavioural management.
In addition to building confidence and reducing stress, sniffing can also be a great way for dogs to use their mental and physical energy in a positive way. By allowing them to explore their environment through scent, dogs can engage their minds and bodies in a way that is both enjoyable and stimulating. This can be especially beneficial for dogs that may not get enough mental or physical stimulation in their daily lives, such as those that spend a lot of time indoors or have limited opportunities to exercise.
New harness that clips in the back would also be ideal.
Different equipment from their typical walking gear helps them to differentiate when they’re on a Sniff-Along vs. a Real walk.
Go to a different neighbour/ trail/ small park that you don’t normally walk
We suggest choosing a non-popular time to be out with your dog so you don’t run into too many other dogs & their owners
Toss some treats into the grass/ trail to get them started with the cue “Go sniff”
You can use the crumbs at the bottom of a treat of food bag that gets left over after all the training sessions
Let the dog sniff.
Their noses are the guide. Wherever they want to go, whichever direction, it’s their adventure!
You’ll notice when you get home that your dog is nice and tired from all the good sniffing and natural brain work they do. This helps shy dogs build confidence as they venture out, leading the way while being allowed to sniff and find their bearings. For our young, overly excited pups, this gives them an outlet to explore and wear themselves out.
Taking the pressure out of these walks allows our dogs to move freely and instinctually. Pushing their cognitive boundaries and stimulating them naturally. For most dogs living in an urban environment, they are put on a leash, taken outside and bombarded by excessive stimulation, and tugged around quickly without being allowed to find themselves in time or space. This creates stress for the dog owner, leading to both dog and owner becoming trigger stacked.
By giving our dogs the freedom to explore their environment and follow their instincts, we can help them to feel more relaxed and fulfilled. This can have a positive impact on their overall behavior and well-being, as well as our own. In addition, taking the time to decompress and engage with our dogs on a more natural level can help to strengthen our bond with them and create a deeper sense of trust and understanding. For many dog owners, this can be a welcome break from the stresses of daily life and a chance to connect with their furry friend in a more meaningful way.
Once a dog reaches that point, behavioral issues such as excessive pulling, barking, resource guarding, and lunging come into play. The opportunity for both you and your dog to get into nature or a new environment and the mental reset you need to tackle triggers in your own neighbourhood/home. By providing our dogs with regular opportunities to explore new environments and engage in natural behaviors, we can help to reduce the likelihood of behavioral issues arising. This can be particularly important for dogs that are prone to anxiety or stress, as well as those that have a history of aggressive or reactive behavior. In addition, by engaging in decompression walks ourselves, we can also benefit from the mental and emotional reset that comes from spending time in nature and engaging with our dogs in a more natural way. This can help us to feel more relaxed, grounded, and connected, and can have a positive impact on our overall health and well-being.