Obsessive sniffing - how to get my dog's attention?

Posted by Abbie
May 31, 2010
My 19-month-old Labrador x Golden Retriever is great with most commands and has reliable recall, [I]except[/I] when she's sniffing. This is a particular problem at our local dog park after rain, but also at other unpredictable times.

She will often make a beeline to an area from quite some distance away, and once she's sniffing she becomes oblivious to my calls - it's as if she's deaf. If I walk up to her and leash her I can lead her away without any resistance, but if I don't take her far enough away she will run back the second I unleash her.

I worry that one day she'll bolt across a road to sniff something. I really can't seem to get her attention at all when she's like this (not with calling, a ball or treats - even when I'm right up close to her).

What should I do?
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Jun 3, 2010
Hi Abbie,

Your dog might have a Beagle in her (just kidding!)

I am afraid you will just have to keep practicing recall with her until she becomes more reliable.

One suggestion I want to make is "not to practice recalls when you don't think she will come". This is what is happening now:

- You call her when she is sniffing the ground
- She doesn't listen/doesn't obey your commend and keeps sniffing
- You come and grab her collar and walk her away

This means that you are teaching her "it's OK not to obey your come command when she is obsessed with something". Your "come command" gets weaker this way.

I use a different command (not really a command more like a suggestion) "Over here" or "Let's go" in that situation in order to keep my "come" command not breached.

When you want to walk up to her and remove her from the spot, say something in a fun voice, i.e. "Lets go for a walk!"

Also, it's helpful to stop her particular behavior (obsessive sniffing this case) before she starts. As soon as she starts walking away from you to the area, start walking to an opposite direction by saying "Come on this way" and treat her. Repeat this many times so that she would automatically follow you when she hear "Come on this way", knowing she will get a treat.

Good luck
Posted by Abbie
Jun 6, 2010
Thanks for this - I was afraid that might be the only way. I'll persevere!