Make Time for “Sniffari” Walks
A dog’s primary sense is their sense of smell – this is how they gain the most information about the world around them. Going for a walk without sniffing is similar to us humans going for a beautiful walk while blindfolded – they are missing out! Unlike relying on intense physical exercise (eg fetch!) – which creates incredibly fit adrenaline junkies, who will continue to need more and more exercise to feel satisfied and may become highly strung and anxious due to long-term higher cortisol levels – using their noses is a great way to exercise our dogs’ minds and wear them out in a relaxing, productive way.
Sniffing is a natural behaviour our dogs are hard-wired to do – it makes them feel good, and helps them to decompress and feel satisfied. So, slowing down on their regular walks to make sure they can stop to “smell the roses” (or read the local pee-mail!), as well as finding new walking routes for them to enjoy and explore is a great way to make sure our dogs are getting the most from their walks. It’s not a bad idea for us humans to slow down and spend more time taking in our surroundings, either!
Not only is it vital to our dogs’ mental wellbeing to have daily opportunities to sniff, but scent work can be a wonderful way to make ourselves a part of this fun activity our dogs love and to learn just what our dogs are capable of! Our popular Scent Detectives course is available as an in-person course at our purpose-built Barham site, or for purchase from our online Dogversity platform.
Reward Good Behaviours
It is all too easy to make the common mistake of not noticing when our dogs are being little angels! Unwanted behaviours, by their nature, are much more likely to draw our attention and be harder to ignore – but when our dogs go and find themselves a dog toy to chew, settle down on their bed while we’re busy at our desks or check in with us on a walk, these lovely behaviours are so convenient that we often don’t react to them at all. Taking the time to really watch our dogs, notice when they make good choices and make sure we reward them – with praise, attention, play and food – is a great way to make sure more of our interactions with our dogs are positive ones and that those desirable behaviours keep happening!
There are lots of situations that our dogs will probably have to cope with at some point in their lives, for which we may not have much notice. Preparing them for these strange events is one of the kindest things we can do for our dogs, so they can feel calm and confident and not be stressed or afraid.
Absence training for our new additions, before we go back to work, will make sure they can feel safe in their home and will be able to relax and snooze while you’re gone.
Regular trips to the vet car-park and, when possible, for a weigh-in, cuddles and treats from the staff is a great way to build positive associations with the vets so it’s not such a scary and unfamiliar place if our dogs are ever ill or injured.
Training our dogs to be comfortable with handling and grooming is not only a wonderful way to keep on top of those tricky knots and check them over for any lumps or bumps, but also makes vet and groomer visits much easier for everyone.
Crate training, whether we want to use one at home or not, is a great way to prepare our dogs for spending time in these enclosed spaces in preparation for car journeys, vet stays or even staying in holiday rentals or hotel rooms.
Our Puppy’s First Step course is a great starting point for learning all about crate training, absence training and more.
Enjoy Your Dog!
Hopefully these suggestions have given you some inspiration for how to make the most of the precious time you have with your pup! These habits are a wonderful way to find more opportunities to have positive interactions with your dog, develop a strong relationship and build a happy life together. We know that, as dedicated pet parents, you all want the best for your pups – some new year’s resolutions are hard, but finding time for our pets doesn’t have to be!