I hear strange things from dog owners like:
- I was told that I had to walk in front of my dog because I'm the leader and leaders walk in front.
- I shouldn't let my dog sniff when we're on a walk - his head should be up off the ground.
- My dog should be looking at me when we walk, not at other dogs.
I'm not sure where or how these ideas are started (or perpetuated), but I'm here to tell you that none of these statements are true.
The canine nose is a finely tuned, exquisite piece of machinery. Dogs' brains have more space devoted to smells than we do. Their sense of smell is keener. Just because we can't small something doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It means that our olfactory equipment is inferior to our dogs olfactory equipment.
To deny your dog the pleasure of sniffing would be like me telling you that tv was now banned. Oh, and so's the internet. And cable. And radio.
How would you know what's going on in the world without those things?
And more importantly, how boring would your world be without those things?
Sniffing, for dogs, is like us surfing the web. It's how we take in information, how we pass the time, and how we can keep in touch with the world around us.
You won't be creating a monster if your dog is allowed to walk in front of you. I actually prefer my dogs to be slightly in front of me. If I want to make a turn, I don't have to worry about tripping over a dog. If your dog is pulling you, though, you've got a different problem. (Click the link for info on how to help solve the problem.)
Expecting - or wanting - a dog to walk without sniffing isn't practical. It isn't fun for the dog. Which means it won't be fun for you. And isn't that why you're walking the dog in the first place?
So give your dog time to stop and sniff the bushes. Or the post. Or the fire hydrant. To him it's like reading the paper. And perhaps the leisurely pace will offer you some de-stress and downtime as well. Now that's a win-win!