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Ways To Stop Your Puppy From Sniffing Everything On Walks

It is normal for a puppy to sniff as much as it can during a walk. They love being curious about everything around them – and that means that they are going to spend some time sniffing it too.

However, while that is wonderful in itself, it can make a quick ten-minute walk turn into a half an hour session.

Ways To Stop Your Puppy From Sniffing Everything On Walks

That is okay if you have the time, but if you need to be somewhere else in a few minutes, then this can pose a problem.

If you are wondering how to stop your puppy from sniffing everything on walks, then you have come to the right place. It is a common problem that can be curbed with a few easy training steps.

Even so, just like with all puppy training you will want to keep at it. Consistency is always important with puppy training!

So, read on to find out how you can stop your puppy from sniffing everything while on a walk. 

Why Do Puppies Sniff Everything While On A Walk?

Puppies, and dogs in general, like a good sniff. Their nose has been designed for them to use it like we use our hands – except a dog’s nose can reach a lot further.

Puppies are very curious creatures, and this means that they will want to spend a lot of their time sniffing at everything during a walk.

However, you will notice that as your puppy turns into a dog it will not stop sniffing everything.

This is because a dog sniffs for many different reasons while they are out on their walk. For example:

  • A dog sniffs because they are adjusting itself to the route and world around them. They recognize regular routes that are taken and are mapping out where they are walking to and from.
  • Along with the above, they often mark their route. You will find that your dog starts to recognize the route that you walk if it is the same every day, or most days. This is not because your dog necessarily knows the route, it is because they have marked the route with its scent.
  • You might also find that your dog goes to the toilet in the same places too!
  • Your dog will also be sniffing for other dog scents within that neighborhood. They will be able to sniff out exactly where other dogs have made their mark. They might even be familiar with some of these scents too.
  • Lastly, they may be sniffing out new dogs too. They will know if a new dog has walked the same route as them and they may be trying to figure out who they are (see also “Why You Should Try Heelwork With Your Dog“).

Why Do Puppies Sniff?

The reason puppies sniff is that, just like dogs too, they are trying to figure out what the world is like around them. They also use sniffing as a way to communicate with other dogs and humans.

Puppies and dogs sniff all of the time, and it would be cruel to want them to stop this altogether.

Sniffing is very normal, and it shows that a puppy has a working nose and that they are using its instincts to find out about everything.

However, you might just be concerned that your puppy is stopping every few seconds to sniff, which makes the walk longer than it needs to be.

Is It Bad That A Puppy Sniffs Everything While On A Walk?

No, it is not bad that a puppy likes to sniff. It is very natural for a puppy or a dog to want to sniff. This is because they use their nose as a way to navigate the world and communicate with others.

You may notice that a dog that you see every so often will sniff you when you meet. This is because they recognize your scent and will understand that you are friendly to them. 

The only reason sniffing becomes ‘bad’ is when your puppy is curious to sniff everything in their path.

This is not something that is a bad habit or will cause issues in the future, it just means that you cannot give them a proper walk because they keep stopping.

Or the fact that a walk with your puppy always takes a lot longer than it should. Other than that, there are no real problems as to why your puppy keeps sniffing while on a walk. 

How Can You Stop A Puppy Sniffing Everything While On A Walk?

If you are one of the many who are looking to reduce the amount of sniffing your puppy does on a walk, then you will want to check out these next steps.

There are some simple things you can do to stop your puppy from sniffing everything while on a walk.

While your aim is not to stop them from sniffing things altogether (that would be cruel), there are several ways to stop them from sniffing everything in their sight.

Start With You

Training your puppy to stop sniffing everything starts with you – and indoors!

You will want to ensure that your puppy gives his/her attention to you and that they can focus on you rather than what is happening around your puppy.

They need to think of you as being relevant in their life. This will ensure that they listen to your commands, rather than ignoring you and sniffing something anyway. 

You will notice if they have your attention when you next go on a walk. If they drag you along to go and sniff at something, did they listen to your command not to? If they did not, then you have some training to do.

Fear not though, because we have all you need to know below.

Focus On Food

Dogs are motivated by food, which means that you can use food and treats as a way to train them. As a puppy, you will want to teach them to focus on you for them to listen to you going forward.

Also, a puppy’s brain is developing during this stage, so it is really important that they are trained early on in their life.

Fortunately, you have plenty of time to do so. Here is how to get going with training them to focus on you:

  • For around two weeks, you will want to hand-feed the meals to your puppy. This is to work on certain commands like ‘Down’ and ‘Sit’. These are the first steps to getting your puppy to focus and listen to you.
  • When you have food in your hand, put it near your eye level so their focus is on you. This encourages your puppy to have eye contact. 
  • When your puppy looks at you and/or performs the command you can give them the food as a reward. This means that they learn that they need to earn their food, which also means that they will learn to listen to you.
  • Your pup will start to realize that they get rewarded by giving you their attention. So the next step will be to do some extra training. This involves walking, turning around, and having your pup follow along.
  • During the walking training, make sure your puppy gives you eye contact and also listens to your commands. You may also want to try learning how to heel during this time too. 

Practice Outdoors

Once your puppy shows signs that they are listening to you, you will want to take this training outdoors.

However, instead of trying this with a full walk around your neighborhood, you can just use the area around your front porch or backyard.

Use techniques that you learned indoors to see if your dog loses your attention to go and sniff something. You may want to see if you can also get their attention back by using commands. 

Once your puppy starts to get better at the training, you can move on to wider areas until you finally do a full walk.

During this time, you can see how well your puppy has done, and whether there are areas that need to be improved. 

Try Heel Training

One way to get your pup to listen to you while outdoors is to learn how to do heel training. It allows them to focus on you and what you are saying.

This is a great way to stop your pup from randomly sniffing everything.

However, it does take a lot of work but can be done both indoors and outdoors. It is a very convenient way to stop your puppy from sniffing everything while on a walk. 

Focus On Locations

The training is not about stopping your dog from sniffing completely.

It would be cruel to not allow your poor puppy to do what it naturally wants. For this reason, you may want to give your puppy specific locations to sniff.

This means that you are giving your pup permission to sniff, rather than them taking control of where they want to go.

Pick a couple of areas that you do not mind your dog sniffing for a few minutes at a time. One example is the location that they like to use as their toilet.

This will mean that over time your dog will begin to choose these locations to sniff rather than ‘random’ places.

However, you will want to make sure that they do not pull at the lead to sniff these places. It should be when you use commands such as ‘Ok’ or ‘Break’. If you find that they begin to pull, ask them to ‘Heel’ or ‘Sit’. 

Let them pause for a bit, and then let them go to where they want to sniff. Once you feel they have had enough time, have them walk with you again.

Try The ‘Let’s Go’ Command

The leash is one of the most important tools when teaching your puppy not to sniff everything (see also “How To Teach Your Puppy To Walk On Leash“).

You may want to try gently pulling in the opposite direction while saying ‘Let’s go’ to coax your dog to leave what it is that they are sniffing.

All they need is slight pressure, rather than a forceful tug. This is something you can practice indoors over several weeks.

A puppy will have it lodged into its muscle memory and will understand what it means to leave the area.

Once your puppy puts its nose down due to finding an interesting scent, you will want to sound excited and say to them ‘Let’s go!’ as you pull on the lead slightly.

This should be enough to have them want to move on. 

If heel is not something your puppy understands, then saying the words ‘Let’s go’ is far more laid back and easygoing.

Final Thoughts

While a puppy has a right to sniff – it is completely natural – it can be bothersome if they are aimlessly doing so.

If you are looking to stop your puppy from turning a ten-minute walk into a half an hour one, then there are some things you can do.

Just remember that while you are training them, and even afterward, always reward your pup with treats.

This means that they will understand that good behavior and focusing their attention on you will mean treats!

Sharon Isaacs