Excessive Sniffing

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by brodys_mom, Nov 5, 2013.

  1. brody_smom Experienced Member

    This is a relatively new development, but it is quite annoying. When anyone comes home, Brody wants to sniff them over in a quite intrusive way. This isn't your classic crotch sniffing, it's all up and down their legs, feet, and even jackets when they remove them. He is particularly interested in my one daughter who is the least fond of Brody to begin with, and it hasn't endeared him to her one bit. The few suggestions I could find online just said things like "let him sniff more on walks", or "toss his kibble into the grass" to help him work out his need to sniff. He does sniff a fair bit on walks, and I have been stopping at grassy patches to let him investigate. The kibble in the grass is not doable as it is quite wet here, and I don't have time to stand around and wait for him to eat his food outside anyway. Due to situations with neighbor dogs, I never let Brody stay outside unsupervised. I don't think this is an obsessive behavior, but it's something I would like to nip in the bud. Any ideas?

  2. southerngirl Honored Member

    Maybe call him to you and put him in a sit stay until the person gets out of the doorway. Or will he still smell them after they've came in taken off purse, jacket, and so on.
    Umm.. Give him something else to do maybe toss a bone away from the person or a filled kong, maybe toss a toy to play a very short game of fetch, or tug.
    That's all I can think of. Hopefully others have better ideas.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  3. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Yeah, I've tried all those. If he doesn't sniff all the smell off of them when they first come home, he'll go back to it later. It's quite intrusive, not just a casual sniff, but a long, deliberate one, like he's collecting evidence for some kind of criminal investigation.
  4. kassidybc Experienced Member

    Not sure if this would work, but maybe try to do nosework with Brody? Maybe that will "satisfy his need to sniff" like the things your read online were recommending you should do.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  5. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I'll look into that. I am working on an online course with Brody right now, so I'm not sure I have the time to start something very time consuming. I did try something with him a few months back, where you get them to target a tea bag under a blanket, but we didn't get very far. Maybe it's worth another shot.
  6. 648117 Honored Member

    Sniffing can be a displacement activity. Sometimes when dogs are nervous (eg, when another dog is nearby) or a little uncomfortable they will put there nose down and delibrately sniff. It's not a proper sniff and I think it looks a bit different to a proper sniff.

    I have seen Holly do a displacement sniff (and she is a very sniffy dog, when off lead at the park she spends about 75% of her time sniffing and the other 25% running, she loves smells and loves doing scent clothes for obedience). When she does a displacement sniff she sort of moves differently and it's a lot faster than a proper sniff and more erratic (even the way she walk/runs is different). It's hard to explain but it is very different to when she is actually properly smelling something.

    So perhaps that has something to do with it. Maybe Brody wants to be near the person but at the same time he is uncomfortable so he is sort of using sniffing as an excuse. as a displacement activity?
    Only you know how he is sniffing and how he interacts with people so I guess you need to judge why he is doing it yourself. But I think it would be beneficial to try and identify why he is doing it rather than just trying to stop it.
    If it is a displacement activity then it might resolve itself in time. I think dogs do go through waves of different behaviours as they get used to their new home (especially adult rescue dogs). Someone once told me that around 6 months after getting a rescue they will go through an "odd" phase where they can become very difficult and display new behaviours, I'm not sure if it's true and I can't remember how long you have had Brody for.
    If you really don't like the sniffing then the only thing I can really think of to do is to redirect him, when you want him to stop get a toy out and invite him to play with that instead.

    Anyway, whatever the reason for the sniffing, doing more controlled sniffing activities might not directly stop him sniffing (I'm not sure you can tire out a dogs nose or desire to sniff). But it could definitly help him if it gets his brain going, increases his confidence and gives him an outlet for his energy.

    So, some ideas are:
    - If he has a favourite toy you could teach him to find it. First put it out in the open and tell him to "find it" (or whatever cue you like) and praise him (play, treat, whatever) when he grabs it, then slowly start to hide it, increase the difficulty (hide it with him out of the room).
    - Hide treats around the room, this is similar to throwing them on the lawn but you put them around the room for him to sniff out (remember where you put them or use something that wont stink if it goes off).
    - You could teach him to do proper "scent clothes" like an obedience dog. I could tell you how if your not sure how and want to do this.
    - You could teach him tracking. You might need someone to help by laying the track (could do this at the park), but Brody could stay on lead for it and you could incorporate it into your walk (would probably only be able to do this once a day at most anyway). I've never done tracking so someone else might be better at explaining how to teach it.

    Sorry for the long post, I hope it helps :)
  7. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Wow, 648117, I think you may have hit the nail on the head! I had been focusing on the sniffing behavior only, and hadn't even thought about his body language. Like I said, it's like he's collecting evidence for a criminal investigation, he almost treats her with suspicion, and when she moves toward him or tells him to back off, he lowers his head. Yesterday, before I had read your post, I was in the kitchen with the daughter in question and Brody, discussing this very issue. She was complaining that she had been "being nicer to Brody, lately", but I said she needed to randomly start giving him treats. I keep little containers of cat kibble and some of his favorite dog treats in each common room in the house, so I told her to just grab one or two and feed him while she is patting him (she also tends to want to pat him on the top of his head and wonders why he pulls away, even though I have told her many times not to). Hopefully she will keep doing this for a long time, and it will stop his suspicious sniffing. Thanks so much.
    southerngirl likes this.

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