If you let a dog sniff, will you be teaching your dog to sniff?  Are you encouraging your dog to ignore you once you start formal work?

I’m a big believer in the value of choice, in particular in dogs that have nervousness or stress issues.  I think when dogs opt-in we get a lot more done in a short period of time because we’re not fighting with the dog for attention.  I also get a tremendous amount of feedback from students who have tried it both ways – “causing” the dog to pay attention by using food or toys or nagging or corrections, and “allowing” the dog to discover on their own that paying attention and work is actually a pretty good deal!I don’t want to fight.  I’d rather spend my training time ensuring that everyone gets their interests met, thereby developing a willing partner.

Don’t drag your dog into Disneyland.  If work is fun for your dog, let them come to that on their own.  That requires letting go of control and allowing your dog to figure out a few things on their own.

This video is from FDSA Dog Sports Camp this year. You can see what happens when Ridge is allowed to sniff – it’s incredibly important to him to do so!  You can also see what happens when he is ready to work.  He’s a lovely dog who is having nice success in competition, in spite of his very very powerful nose that goes a mile a minute, pretty much every second that he’s not sleeping or working :).