Do You Let Your Dog Sniff The Ground While Walking?

A forum contributor asked, “Do you let your dog sniff around while walking them?”

Adam replied: “No. If I want to stop and let him sniff, I tell him, “Free!” (or ‘take a break’). But otherwise, I only give him a chance to pee every 1/2 hour or so, during a walk.”

Original poster: “Thanks Adam. By the way… I couldn’t believe how fast the loose leash dog walking technique worked. In less than 3 minutes both of my dogs were walking on a loose leash and I was teaching both of them at the same time. This is after months of constantly telling my one dog to heel and pulling up on the leash to get him back to my side.

dog sniffing ground Trainer 4: “I don’t mind if the nose is airscenting while walking, but I do not like the head down on the ground or out at the side. Even on regular walks, we book it. I don’t mind a quick sniff or two, but nothing interrupts a good aerobic workout like coming to a screeching halt because the dog has to investigate something or is slowed down smelling the trail of something interesting. We’re out on a walk. This is OUR time together. There are other times and places to investigate Fun Smells, and this ain’t it.  Make sense?

Original poster:  Hi DPTrainer4, what are those other times and places to investigate Fun Smells? Because if I’m walking somewhere with the dogs then I’m walking and so are they.

Adam replied: She means that those times and places are left up to your discretion. Not the dog’s. Trainer 4:  Exactly.  When we are walking around 120 acres, a loose leash is not first priority–in fact, a leash is more of a hindrance and gets in the way. What IS important is a solid recall and leave-it. An occasional, rock-solid down helps too–squirrel season, out walking with the dog and we heard something in the copse of oaks. Downed the dog off in the distance and waited to see if anything would show; nothing ended up happening, so we just got her back up and walked on. (She is NOT a hunting dog by any stretch of the imagination, either!)

It’s a good reason to put reliable, real-world obedience on a dog so that it can enjoy a good off-leash walk and YOU can rest assured that it will listen to you the first time when things go haywire.

At the park near my parent’s house, dogs are allowed off-leash during certain times of the evening. This is a good mix of work and play. She can go off-leash and explore, but we’re still heeling and working when other dogs come around. (I keep her close because I do not want other dogs approaching us–“He’s friendly” be damned, mine might not be and plus, it’s just plain rude to allow your dog to molest and bully other dogs under the guise of “play.”)

Depends on your circumstances, location and opportunities where you can use your discretion. 

Adam Katz Shows Dog Training To Stop Pulling On The Leash

Adam’s never seen this dog, before. His veterinarian asked him to “work his magic” since the dog was obnoxious on the leash for her. Many experienced dog owners will probably say, “Big deal… it’s a female Golden Retriever!” But there are videos of Adam using the same successful techniques on pit bulls, rottweilers and other difficult breeds, over at (Our apologies for the poor resolution!)

His Dog Is Lunging At Traffic While On Leash: Here’s What To Do

Larry’s Border Collie was lunging at traffic while on the leash.  

Larry says: “My Border Collie is 6 months-old and when I am walking him by any road with traffic he keeps lunging at the moving traffic and is oblivious to everything except the cars or busses that pass.  It makes walking him an unhappy experience.  Please help!  If he cannot hear traffic, he walks lovely. Regards, Larry.”

Adam replies:  Hi, Larry.  You’re going to want to start by using the pinch collar and the “attention-getter”/loose leash technique.

I go into extensive detail about how to properly fit and use the pinch collar (and why it’s a superior training device) in the book. I also talk about the loose leash exercise, but if you’re more of a visual learner, check out my video, here:

Teach Your Dog To Walk On A Loose Leash — Video

Keep me posted.
– Adam

Lynn adds:

Keep in mind your dog’s natural instincts and drives as well. The herding instinct is actually a modified prey drive, in which the dog stalks and “hunts” whatever it is trying to herd. The only difference is that, with most trained herders, the final act of actually killing the animal (sheep, cattle, etc etc–ANY kind of livestock) has been nullified. Herding breeds can have a tendency to bite because either they have never been taught that it is wrong to do (which can go for any dog), or because they do that as a part of their herding behavior.

A walk is usually NOT enough exercise for these types of dogs.

Obedience is a start and definitely a required foundation to start teaching the dog manners and how to behave out in public. But if you have access to organized dog sports, or even can get him started in herding or some type of activity to use his brain (border collies are GREAT at scentwork, believe it or not), you can really help him take off.

A 9 Month-old German Shepard and Pit bull-mix That Pulls On The Leash

KPStorms writes to me: “I have a 9 month old shepherd /pit bull mix we adopted from the shelter when he was about 6 months old. The problem is he pulls me like crazy he weighs about 56 lbs. and is extremely strong . I’m a big guy but I have a hard time controlling him. When ever he sees another animal ,a bike ,or anyone walks by he lunges at them/it . I don’t think he wants to fight ,he just wants to play . I have a pinch collar and I can barely put one finger through. I have tried walking in the oppisit direction I’ve tried just putting him in the down stay ,and nothing seems to work .I’ve tried the correction thing (yanking on the leash) it does not phase him . He also does this screaming thing that sounds like your killing him . please help.

Adam replies: Hi, KPStorms:

When you look at the pinch collar, can you confirm that the chain part forms a triangle and the chain is not crossed over on itself?

Look at this image (below). See how the chain lies flat (it’s not crossed over on itself). Also, when you do your about-face turn (right about) you’ll need to use your arms to reach forward toward the dog to create slack, then do the turn and take a leap step in the opposite direction.

Get back to me on the above issues, and we’ll go from there.
– Adam

Lynn (DPTrainer2) adds:

You might also take a look at your technique as well as what Adam suggested. Are you doing the jerk-and-release action or are you pulling him back on the pinch collar?

One thing I would focus on in his case is to start with the basic lesson before exposing him to the sorts of distractions that drive him wild. In the case of the Great Dane, you’ll notice I recommended to take the dog home and do some work. I suspect part of the reason Adam’s advice worked better was that the dog already KNEW what a correction was and understood what it meant. Oftentimes, a dog that has never received a correction will do one of four things when it first receives one for any reason (misbehavior, missed command, etc) : look around like nothing happened, respond appropriately by stopping the misbehavior/obeying the command, scream in absolute horror because it just experienced something new, or come right back at what it perceives to be the source of the correction and all but say “Care to try that again?”

I worked a dog that was similar to yours. He was one that would lock onto other dogs that even looked his way, and bound out to play with them. Teaching him Heel was actually the easy part, since we could work in a low-distraction environment.

This is after only one session of learning the basic command and teaching him his role when I said “Heel.”

(You’ll also notice that he was a leash-grabber, and you’ll see me correcting him for that partway through the clip.)

Teaching the basics is not the time to bring another dog into the room or toss out one of the Kongs on the rack. This is time for him to learn.

Using that obedience helped when I took him around other dogs, since he understood that his focus was to be on me–the more hepped up he became, the more s-l-o-w I became (similar to the whole “The angrier the other person gets, the quieter your voice becomes” mantra). As I slowed down and he moved ahead, not only would I do the about-turns, but I would also pivot to my left and use both hands over the dog’s back to correct BACKWARDS towards his tail. I wish there was a good example of that in here, but I don’t think this is one where I do that much, if at all (I’ll try to find one and get it uploaded.) The about-turns will teach him to stay where he can see me, but the corrections backward also help remind him to move back to a position where he can see me and set himself up for success.

There was one more thing that really snapped him out of his “locking on” to other dogs if they looked at him. I had about 2 seconds to correct him, and I had to do it right…if I gave him one he didn’t respect, he’d take that moment to jump out and start dancing/barking/etc, and I could give him one he found motivational…but if I gave him TWO quick ones in a row, it really back his plans. (Imagine popcorn popping: it’s a quick pop-pop. If you feel like you’re trying to haul a piece of furniture across the room, you’re using too much muscle–the goal is to startle the dog and get his attention back on you, not physically move him.) You’d be surprised how flabbergasted they are when they expect one correction and know they can handle it, but when another comes along right after that, it’s like us tripping over both feet instead of just one. It doesn’t make them AFRAID…it just makes the message clearer, and when focus is back on you, praise.

Try and avoid forcing him into something, whether it’s physically holding him at your side or making him go into a down position. It’s going to increase the stress of the situation and just frustrate the both of you.

Leash Training Your Dog

Training your dog to not pull on the leash… One of the most common problems people have with their dogs is pulling on the leash.

There are many reasons why this can occur, and quite often it is nothing more than excitement on the dogs part. If this is the case, allowing the dog a few minutes to simmer down before taking it on his/her walk can often stop it.

Once again, the dogs pack mentality can come to play with the dog assuming leadership over its owner as the leader of the pack. This comes back to the basics of dog training where the dog must be aware of who the master is.

Failure to get this basic dog training technique under control can lead to all sorts of problems, particularly if the dog gets off the leash. In the presence of other dogs, and sometimes young children this problem becomes pronounced.

One of the basics of dog training is for the owner to establish him or herself as the leader of the pack otherwise no training can be effective. Once this has been established you can start the process of getting your dog to walk calmly beside you with or without a leash. And that process can only start if you are able to get your dog to sit calmly while you put the leash around its neck.

That is the very first step of training your dog to walk without pulling in its leash. Once you succeed in that task, you can move on to the next step where you can get your dog to walk beside you without a leash and be assured that he/she won’t run away. And from there you will not be one of those people where the dog is taking them for a walk.

Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book.  This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited.

Teaching Your Golden Retriever To Accept The Leash


All dogs need to accept the restraints of a leash and this can be hard for some puppies. If your Golden is frightened by the leash as a puppy, he may resent the leash for the rest of his life. Therefore you may want to introduce the leash in a non-threatening manner.

Soon after you bring your puppy home, put a soft nylon or cotton buckle collar on him. Make sure it’s loose enough to slip over his head should he get tangled up with something. After a day or two, when he is no longer scratching at the collar, attach a leash to the collar and let him drag it around the house for ten or fifteen minutes while you watch him to make sure it doesn’t tangle on something. While the puppy is dragging the leash, he will step on the leash, feel the tug on his neck and just generally get used to the feel of it.

After two or three times of dragging the leash, you can teach your puppy to follow you when you have the leash in hand. Have a few pieces of a soft treat you know he likes such as hot dog or cheese. Let him sniff the treat and then back away while you verbally encourage him by saying something such as, “Let’s go! Good boy!” When he follows you for a few feet, stop, praise him and let him have a bite of the treat. Since Goldens are food hounds, training them with treats makes the process much easier.

Repeat this activity two or three times and then quit for this session. Reward your puppy by playing. After two or three training sessions like this, start making it more challenging by backing away from your puppy faster or by adding turns or zigzags. If he acts confused, stop and go back to the simple exercise he was the most comfortable with.

It is important to never stop the training session when your Golden puppy is confused. Instead, always stop the training session on a happy note. Do something you know he can do and do well, then stop, praise him enthusiastically and play with him for a few minutes. 

Please note: This article is part of a collection of dog-related content that we purchased the rights to. Opinions expressed may or may not agree with those espoused by Master Dog Trainer Adam G. Katz. When in doubt, please refer to the advice given in Adam’s dog training book.  This article is provided for your enjoyment, only. It’s relevance to real world working dog training may be limited.