Constant sniffing?
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  1. #1
    Senior Member Finkie_Mom's Avatar
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    Constant sniffing?

    I just got my first puppy, a Finnish Spitz, from a breeder about 3 weeks ago (she's a little over 11 weeks now). Things are going OK, she's not quite housebroken, but we're getting there, and besides her barking (a breed trait that we're working on!), she's great.

    Adding another level of difficulty in the housebreaking is the fact that she is CONSTANTLY sniffing. I'm crate training, but I'm also home almost all day so she's out with me in our living room/kitchen. So it's not like we're going to new places throughout the house (which, in my mind, might warrant the sniffing), so shouldn't she be used to this area????

    I end up taking her out every 45 minutes because she just sniffs, and I don't want her to have an accident in the house (I'd much rather catch it and praise her than have her go inside). But it's getting to be a bit much. And she doesn't go each time when we're out there, so I don't think it's a medical problem.

    As far as exercise goes, I do training with her 10 minutes at a time, 3 times a day, she goes for a 10 minute walk with my husband in the morning and another walk when he gets home from work, and constant play during the day (fetch, LIGHT tug of war, etc.). Maybe she needs more exercise? Though I know she can't go for long walks at this age, and anything like a dog park is absolutely out of the question until she's fully vaccinated...

    Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated!!! Thanks!!!

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  3. #2
    Senior Member KBLover's Avatar
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    Re: Constant sniffing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Finkie_Mom View Post
    Adding another level of difficulty in the housebreaking is the fact that she is CONSTANTLY sniffing. I'm crate training, but I'm also home almost all day so she's out with me in our living room/kitchen. So it's not like we're going to new places throughout the house (which, in my mind, might warrant the sniffing), so shouldn't she be used to this area????
    Maybe something smells different. Being used to an area can also point out what's NOT familiar and maybe she's checking out the new scent on the floor or in the air? Perhaps a scent has changed, especially in the kitchen, with the smells of each new meal, etc.

    And being puppy, maybe it's curiosity? She's only been in your home 3 weeks and things probably change a lot scent-wise (you walk in and out, bringing different scents in the room, etc)

    Quote Originally Posted by Finkie_Mom View Post
    I end up taking her out every 45 minutes because she just sniffs, and I don't want her to have an accident in the house (I'd much rather catch it and praise her than have her go inside). But it's getting to be a bit much. And she doesn't go each time when we're out there, so I don't think it's a medical problem.
    Maybe she's just checking things out. I know when I take Wally out, sometimes he just sniffs between going - so with him, not all sniffing is him looking for a spot to pee.

    If she's sniffing more than walking, and you'd rather her walk (exercise, for example), I'd just gently coax her to start walking with you. Or if she's out there just to see if she needs to do her business, and you see she doesn't, maybe just bring her back in and try again later (watching her of course to make sure she doesn't have an accident).

    Quote Originally Posted by Finkie_Mom View Post
    As far as exercise goes, I do training with her 10 minutes at a time, 3 times a day, she goes for a 10 minute walk with my husband in the morning and another walk when he gets home from work, and constant play during the day (fetch, LIGHT tug of war, etc.). Maybe she needs more exercise? Though I know she can't go for long walks at this age, and anything like a dog park is absolutely out of the question until she's fully vaccinated...

    Could be, she might be sniffing to entertain herself. Wally was just doing that in the room here while typing this post, sniffing the rug - probably sniffing left-over scents of treats and whatnot, or looking for his toy to chew on.

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    Re: Constant sniffing?

    Are you sure her vision is 100%? she should be familliar with an area by now 3 weeks after the fact and with the constant sniffing of familliar areas makes me think that she might be having vision issues. Blind dogs or vision impared dogs sniff A LOT even in familliar environments.

    It's not amongst the list of genetic defects for the spitz but it is always something to make sure is clear before assuming this is all behavioral. Here's a good link to a good Finnish Spitz health site http://www.finnishspitzhealth.org/bios.html
    Last edited by Dog_Shrink; 03-03-2010 at 05:41 PM.

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    Senior Member Finkie_Mom's Avatar
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    Re: Constant sniffing?

    Thanks for the advice, KBLover!

    You're right, in that she's only been here for 3 weeks so as things change in the environment, she will react accordingly. I think I just have to be a little less obsessive about it, as if I keep taking her out every 45 minutes, she may just get used to it and never start letting us know when she has to go out (which, of course, is the ultimate goal!)

    She's actually fine walking. Every once and a while she will get distracted by a smell, but it's pretty easy to redirect her. It's just in the house that it's a problem

    I'll just have to back off a little bit, hahaha

    @Dog_Shrink - My vet actually asked me if she can hear, as he couldn't get her to stop barking or react to certain noises he was making. She can hear fine, as she responds to squeaky toys, the doorbell, someone knocking on the door, garage door opening, etc.

    I'm pretty sure her vision is good, as I haven't seen anything to make me think otherwise, but I will keep an eye on it and ask the vet next time I go if I notice something weird...

    Though since Finkie's were bred to hunt, maybe it's just a breed thing that their sense of smell is so keen?

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    Re: Constant sniffing?

    I had a friend with a really great hunting beagle... could flush rabbits from the tightest thicket. Great nose on that dog but... blind as a bat. Even in the house you could never tell. She would chase toys accurately, respond just like she could see but nope...

    There is a good chance that your pup is just investigating the scents because of it's hunting heritige, the prey drive that is naturally kicking at this age is "investagate everything", then go do it again to make sure nothing has changed. I posted a "stages of puppy development" in a past thread that may be worth reading. http://www.dogforums.com/19-first-ti...velopment.html (Stages of Puppy Development) it might give you a little insight as to where your pup's head is at during certain age groups.

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    Senior Member TooneyDogs's Avatar
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    Re: Constant sniffing?

    There is one other possibility for the sniffing....as a calming signal. Pups will sniff the floor when they're stressed as a way to avoid eye contact/confrontation and cope with an environment that's slightly scary.

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    Senior Member FlashTheRottwuggle's Avatar
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    Re: Constant sniffing?

    My pup sniffs alot, not necessarily constantly, inside. I keep saying her nose is all beagle. She will go around sniffing and sniffing. Sometimes I never figure out what she is sniffing for and other times she finally stops when she comes upon something new in the house, something that has been moved, or something that was tracked in from outside. She can smell a new footprint near the front door when she comes in the back door. I never thought to question all her sniffing, I just figured it was her way.

    Edit: And I wanted to mention she's lived here since December 19th.
    Last edited by FlashTheRottwuggle; 03-04-2010 at 09:03 AM. Reason: add additional info
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    Member MarcusDolby's Avatar
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    Re: Constant sniffing?

    Sniffing to a dog is like looking to a human. They take in a lot of information that way. I'm convinced that even if our pup can't see or hear us, she's knows when we're at home due to being able to smell us. I think lots of sniffing is perfectly normal. That's just my theory though.

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    Member IlliniJen's Avatar
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    Re: Constant sniffing?

    My Tater is a nose-to-the-ground dog and it made catching him before he was about to go inside nigh impossible.

    When I got Tater back in September, I intially kept Tater to his crate and xpen area. But he would have accidents in the xpen, even with taking him out regularly. So I decided to take a step back. I crate-trained Tater for a week, meaning he was either in the crate, on the couch with me or doing his business outside. No access to anywhere in the house and I took him out at regular intervals and treated him when he did his business. He then moved to having access to his crate, his xpen and the couch. Once he went a week without an accident, I kept a close eye on him around the house when I would let him roam around, always supervised and never for too long a time.

    The week of strict crate-training was they key, IMHO. It just seemed to click in his head that outside = potty time. He's had maybe two accidents since then, mostly due to my own fault.

    When I was going through the intial difficulties, I talked to my vet, who also has a French Bulldog (Tater's sister, in fact) and told her I could never tell when he was going to have an accident. She said that these little guys are going to have their noses to the ground, exploring, seeing what they can put in their mouths, so you can't rely on the regular tell-tale signs of sniffing before peeing.

    Tater is 8 months now and still is sniffing all over like it's his full time job. Just throw the sniffing cue out with your puppy and go back to being strict with your crate training. It really works if you stick with it.
    The pack: Tater and Winston, two French Bulldogs; Kosmo and Oscar, two Devon Rex cats

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    Senior Member Finkie_Mom's Avatar
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    Re: Constant sniffing?

    @MarcusDolby - I don't think her sniffing is wrong... I just wasn't able to use the tell-tale sign of sniffing in a circle to tell if she had to go to the bathroom, that's all

    @IlliniJen - The crate training idea sounds great, but unfortunately she's TERRIFIED of the crate. At night, she's tired out enough that she will bark for a couple of minutes then fall asleep. But during the day, she will bark/bite at the bars basically until she passes out, even with toys in there (like a Kong) and a couple squeaky toys, etc. She will go in her crate kind of willingly if I throw a small piece of hot dog (a high value treat for her) in there, but once she has eaten it and sits there for a minute, the barking begins.

    I've been doing/did the whole desensitization thing at the beginning, and I've tried feeding her in there, but nothing seems to matter that much. Her crate is wire with a puppy barrier and is covered, so it's pretty cozy in there and has always been part of a positive experience for her

    The other issue is that she won't really let me hold her while sitting down. She will for a minute or so, but then she starts mouthing/biting (which we are working on getting under control in an appropriate manner, as I know all puppies do this ), and freaks out until I let her down. It's like she thinks I'm trying to kill her or something! Some of the noises she makes are ridiculous! And that's when she'll do damage with the biting, and has broken skin on a few occasions. BUT IT'S ONLY SITTING! She turns to jelly if I hold her while standing! Go figure

    In conclusion, despite these issues, I do love your idea of kind of going back to basics, and will try to maybe crate her a bit more, especially when I can't be watching her like a hawk and she's not tethered to me. Thank you for the advice

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    Member MarcusDolby's Avatar
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    Re: Constant sniffing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Finkie_Mom View Post
    @MarcusDolby - I don't think her sniffing is wrong... I just wasn't able to use the tell-tale sign of sniffing in a circle to tell if she had to go to the bathroom, that's all
    Gotcha. I have that issue too. Sometimes they sniff in a circle for no reason, other times to pee. Wish I could read her mind.

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    Member MarcusDolby's Avatar
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    Re: Constant sniffing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Finkie_Mom View Post
    The other issue is that she won't really let me hold her while sitting down......
    Same here. Sitting, forget about it. Standing, she's an angel. I think it's because she sees that she's close to the ground (couch in this case) and wants to run around. When standing, she's so far above the ground that she knows to be nice or else she'll get dropped!

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    Senior Member Finkie_Mom's Avatar
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    Re: Constant sniffing?

    Quote Originally Posted by MarcusDolby View Post
    Same here. Sitting, forget about it. Standing, she's an angel. I think it's because she sees that she's close to the ground (couch in this case) and wants to run around. When standing, she's so far above the ground that she knows to be nice or else she'll get dropped!
    Bahahaha I TOTALLY agree! The only time she'll sit with me is when she's dead tired and probably can't even think straight

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