A Sniffari is a walk where dogs are allowed to wander and sniff. The dog gets to make some choices about where he/she goes and what gets sniffed. It could also include moments where dog and human stand still and watch and listen.
What are the benefits?
A lot of information is carried in a scent. Pee-mails include data such as the sex and health of the depositing dog. The strength of the scent is an indicator of when the dog left the pee-mail.
Sniffing all this information gives dogs a lot to think about keeping those canine brain cells working.
Other scents are just as interesting. Local wildlife or farm animals provide fascinating smells. Novel smells such as seaweed will also work the brain.
Keeping the brain working will help stave off canine dementia.
Allowing your dog to direct part of the walk gives your dog a feeling of control. Everyone including dogs, benefits from being free to make choices about what they do. Life becomes less stressful.
You can encourage your dog to make the right choices by rewarding the behaviour you want. These walks are a great time for you to connect with your dog and strengthen your bond. It can be a practice in mindfulness and relaxation for both of you.
Pick the right time and space for you and your dog to walk. If your dog isn’t a fan of other dogs, stick to on-lead walks; a time when you are less likely to meet other dogs and a space that has things that you can use for visual barrier i.e., cars and bushes. Changing direction to put a car or shrub between you and an oncoming dog can help reduce the stress for your dog. Avoid nose – to -nose meetings as this is just bad manners.
Use a harness, preferably with a y-front, as these are more comfortable. If you are going bush, you can use a lead longer than 2m.
Take poo bags with you and a carabiner to hang off your lead for the poo bags.
Take treats. Lots of treats. Reward your dog when he/she comes back to you or looks back to check in with you. This will up your goodwill quota and reinforce recall training.
Break treats into small bits and scatter on the ground with a ‘find’ cue to distract if dogs go past.
Finally, enjoy the time together.