All dog fanciers will agree that a tired pup is a better-behaved pup. With tight schedules, most of the time, a walk is a mission: purely for exercise, physical and mental. If you’re without a fenced yard, some walks are very brief, potty-specific operations. Maybe you’ve heard that you should always be the leader on walks, and not let your dog “be the boss” while on a leash.
Believe it or not, it’s actually vital to allow dogs go on a “sniffari” – and often! Giving dogs a chance to stop and smell the roses (and the hydrant, and the neighbor’s mailbox…) is central to their happiness. Not on every walk, of course, but as often as possible – dogs should be allowed to drive the walk and take as much time as they need to sniff what interests them.
The most keen human noses have around 6 million olfactory receptors. Dogs have up to 300 million, and they can detect certain odors in parts per trillion. What you can catch a whiff of in a room, a dog can smell across a stadium. Dog noses are so complex, they can even detect feelings and moods.
Imagine being dragged at warp speed away from a mesmerizing sunset or a beautiful garden day after day – that would be a highly frustrating experience. Similarly, dogs need time to enjoy the smells of the world to be fulfilled. Dogs are driven by their amazing noses, and taking them through every walk too quickly is unsatisfying. It’s important to allow them to exercise their incredible nose, just as they exercise their bodies.
If you’re worried that allowing “sniffaris” will make your pet backslide on their leash training, using certain leashes or harnesses, or wearing a different pair of shoes for each type of walk, can help your pet understand what’s going to happen when it’s time to head outside. This way, you both know what to expect on your walk. Enjoy!