Day 6: Sniffing Saturday

Welcome to Day 6 of #100daysofenrichment and thank you for joining us on this journey!

Although our challenges are directed mainly at dogs, we want all species to enjoy and benefit from #100daysofenrichment so, please join in, adjust and adapt to help your pet or companion live a more enriched life.

Don’t forget to review all the information leading up to #100daysofenrichment and more here on playing safe. Know your dog!



Saturdays during #100daysofenrichment are all about emphasising the dog in all our dogs; all about sniffing and doing dog things.


Implement Sniffathon Rules:

  • allow your dog to sniff sniff sniff
  • no human interference
  • allow your dog to sniff as long as they please – don’t even suggest that they must stop sniffing or move along
  • allow your dog engage in doggie things, even if it seems icky to you, once safe

That’s it, take your dog for sniff, rather than a walk, and let them be a dog!


What makes a dog a dog?

When you think of behaviours that are synonymous with dog…what are those behaviours?

Most people who seek my help with their pets are concerned about pretty normal behaviours. Often, when these behaviours are demonstrated in the human world though, they become a problem for the humans. We call them “behaviour problems”, more so because they become a problem for us.


Dogs come with sets of behaviour installed. Behaviours that dogs must do.
Selective breeding to produce different types and breeds of dogs has exaggerated or inhibited some behaviour sets so we have differences at that level. Different breeds and types of dogs will exhibit differences in these behaviours.
Continued selection, rearing environment and lifestyle will combine to dictate whether these behaviours become problems for pets and people.

Let your dog check their pee-mail!

It’s perfectly normal for dogs to ‘taste’ other dogs’ urine or faeces, to sniff all sorts of faeces and urine (plus other discharges like saliva), to mark and over mark and to kick after toileting:

(Link) I took this clip recently because he was sniffing some dog’s hair so intently and for such a long time. But, I also happened to catch him ‘tasting’, sniffing, overmarking and kicking. Although he spends a lot of time sniffing, presumably detecting social information, he cocks his leg and kicks much less frequently, especially for a mature entire male.
He is a pretty socially confident fella, and I guess he doesn’t need to tell everyone he’s all that, ‘cos he knows he’s da bomb! 

To live with people, dogs must inhibit their very doggieness for much of the day. That’s what #100daysofenrichment is all about; making sure dogs get to be dogs and forget about human rules for a little bit!

Not many things more joyful than a dog having a good roll in that perfect spot:


Or finding that perfect digging pit…even if it is on the side of the road:


Making dog walks more dog

Although on Sniffing Saturdays we are emphasising sniffing, today on our Sniffathon, we want to facilitate all sorts of dog behaviours, even the ones that we might find abhorrent.

Behaviours like sniffing (obviously!), marking and toileting, eating poop, rolling in smelly things, jumping, digging, splashing, watching the goings-on, barking, chewing, exploring, investigating, sniffing and more sniffing are all on the agenda today.



Go for a sniff, instead of a walk

Today we aim to maximise the amount of sniffing, in as natural a situation as possible, our dogs get up to.

  • take your dog to a place that allows for tons of sniffing
  • pick places that allow your dog to get lost in their noses so without many other distractions; Deck and I have a couple of sniffy places like here and here.
  • have them on lead or a long line for safety, if necessary
  • ideally, bring them to a place where the dog is able to relax a little and sniff systematically, rather than move frantically
  • think about the effects of different times of the day, different ambient temperatures, different weather conditions – all have effects on sniffing and can change the olfactory landscape dramatically, providing different challenges and boosting enrichment


  • your dog might need help slowing down (this clip and this clip show examples of helping dogs do this) so that they can take the time to sniff, rather than be vigilant – the location you choose will help with this
  • try not to use toys or food to encourage them to sniff – let them interact with the environment as they see fit
  • try not to cue the dog or encourage them along – stand behind them, walk slowly, be patient
  • don’t get hung up on how long you are out for or how much distance you have covered…today is about quality rather than quantity
    We are measuring quality in how much sniffing happens!


Sniffathon Challenges

Remember, Sniffathon Rules:

  • allow your dog to sniff sniff sniff
  • no human interference
  • allow your dog to sniff as long as they please – don’t even suggest that they must stop sniffing
  • allow your dog engage in doggie things, even if it seems icky to you, once safe

That’s it, take your dog for sniff, rather than a walk, and let them be a dog!


Enrichment Options

Today, take your dog for a sniff with Sniffathon Rules!

If you can’t get your dog out and about today, that’s ok.

  • bring the sniffathon in if the dog can’t go out

Collect vegetation, grasses, sticks and branches and other natural smelly things from a local green area.

Gather small amounts of your collection in fabric shopping bags and hang at sniffing height, rather than on the ground.

This not only makes it easier to clean up but is convenient for the dog and may reduce disease spread, if that’s a concern.

Here’s a Sniffari set-up for a group of dogs who are indoors for PlayDates; this way we can bring some outside sniffs, inside:


  • bring the dog out for limited exposure

If you have an unvaccinated puppy, for example, exposing them to the outside world carefully is an important tool in shaping their behavioural development.

Bring puppy in your arms or in the car. Sit with the door or window open, puppy in your arms, and allow them to air-sniff. Sit with them on a bench or a quiet spot.

When bringing puppy out in your arms, it’s best not to allow others to pet or approach your puppy. When they are restrained, they have little choice in how they interact and that can be overwhelming, especially for young puppies. Make it about air sniffing and observing instead.

Here I hang out with Cara in the car so she can gather some information about this new place, before she will interact with a new and overwhelming environment.


  • play the Go Find It! game

Some dogs find being outside in the world far too exciting and due to this arousal, are vigilant, rather than engaging in appropriate sniffing behaviour.
They are often moving too fast, scanning for smells, but not really taking anything in. They are stuck in a visual world, checking constantly for signs of danger.

Bringing these dogs out and about and expecting them to calmly sniff at their leisure is too much of a challenge, certainly at this time. Instead, take them somewhere that they can be comfortable – this might just be your back garden, or maybe you can get them out to the front of the house.

Distance traveled is not the point, comfort is. Use some food rewards, that are just valuable enough that they will search for them but will not cause them to become too frantic or wound up. Might be somewhere above kibble but below steak!

Jack and Jessie are exactly this type of dog, having just come from long term kenneling in a shelter, and here they are being introduced to the joys of the Go Find It! game at the front of their house – this is the most engaged in sniffing and playing with their humans outside of the house ever!


Your challenge

Now it’s your turn. Show us what you and your pets, of any species, can do with these challenges!

Post to your social media accounts, using the #100daysofenrichment so that we can find you and join our Facebook group to share your experiences, ideas and fun!
You can comment right here too 🙂

We look forward to hearing from you and your pets – have fun & brain games!