Dogs are known for their sniffing and their noses. They can smell extremely well, much better than we as humans can! Normally dogs will sniff when they’re outside or in a new environment, but why would your dog start sniffing obsessively for seemingly no reason? We’re here to answer that question, so if you notice some strange sniffing behavior, you’ll know what to do.
Also Read: My Dog’s Runny Nose And What I Did
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When we say that your dog sniffs a lot, we mean that it’s continuing for hours, your dog may not respond to commands, and they may not want to eat either. Your dog also might appear agitated, will not respond to treats, and may have bulging eyes. You might be thinking that your dog has eaten something badly or is responding poorly to something. Sniffing however is not usually caused by toxic exposure. Often, there are other causes behind such behavior.
Causes of Sniffing
There are a few things that could cause your dog to start sniffing a lot, and which could cause concurrent symptoms too. Let’s go over a couple of the more common ones.
Sniffing the air and pacing may imply that your dog has smelled something which has made them nervous. It might not even be anything inside your house. In fact, it can be something outside, like just a random animal. Especially if you live in an area with coyotes or other large predators, you might see lots of sniffing.
Dogs may also sniff if they’re investigating something. This can include small animals that have died in the wall, under the house, or in the attic. If your dog has smelt another animal outside too, they might start sniffing around a lot to be sure everything is still all right.
Another common reason for supposedly random sniffing is so your dog can avoid a person or situation they don’t like. When you’re walking your dog for instance, they may start sniffing until an unfamiliar person or car has passed, or may seek to avoid loud situations by sniffing. Even if you notice your dog ignoring your commands, your dog might be avoiding you! That’s because they’ll register your angry tone and body language when they don’t listen, so they may try to avoid you until they can see you’ve calmed down.
One of the main reasons your dog might start sniffing is either because they’re nervous or stressed. Sniffing can mean that your dog is in a situation they don’t like, and want to avoid. Sniffing acts as a type of distraction, but there are other stressed out dog symptoms you can look for too. This includes acting distracted, yawning, lip licking, shaking, stretching, freezing, refusing to eat, having sweaty paws, and shedding a lot. By themselves these symptoms might not mean much, but together it becomes obvious that your dog is feeling stressed.
If you’ve managed to rule out physical health problems like bulging eyes or agitation, which can come from stress or nervousness, you want to address the sniffing behavior next.
I know, it seems cruel to ignore your pup when something is wrong, but that may be one of the best ways to stop your dog’s behavior. Following your dog, petting them, and even giving them treats only encourages them to continue any sort of odd behavior like obsessive sniffing. Ignoring the sniffing completely, getting up and going to another room, and only giving your dog attention when they’re acting normally can help get rid of the behavior. This is because when you give your dog attention and love when they’re acting strangely, you’re inadvertently reinforcing their behavior.
If You Have Another Dog
Another dog may also help when it comes to fixing your dog’s sniffing behavior. Especially if your dog is sniffing because you’ve accidentally reinforced it, you can reinforce calm behavior in your other dog. Showing your sniffer that calm and relaxed behavior earns them treats will help them see what behavior is acceptable. Don’t go overboard, but just make sure that both dogs are in the room when you give out rewards.
Since odd sniffing behavior can still be caused by an animal around your home, you might want to do a quick search. Getting rid of any dead animals may help, although if the animal is alive, be careful in how you deal with it. Whether you call animal control or deal with it yourself, your dog should return to normal after it’s removed.
Know Your Dog
The most important thing you can do when it comes to fixing too much sniffing is to know if you’re actually looking at problematic behavior. You should be aware of your dog’s usual behavior, and how they generally respond. If they appear stressed or nervous, try to calm them and remove them from any stressful situation.
Any dog owner gets nervous when they see their dog doing something they don’t normally do. If you see your dog sniffing in an almost obsessive manner, take a second to observe your dog’s behavior so you can try to fix it. In the worst case you can go to the vet to rule out physical problems, but a few simple fixes should get your dog back to normal in no time!