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I have just started Obedience classes with Lucy and she is doing very well...as long as I can keep her nose off the ground. She is six months old, very smart, learns fast but has her nose on the ground worse than a hound dog and she is Shih Tzu x Maltese.

When she is paying attention to me, she heels, automatic sit, sit and down stay. Will go down and sit from a distance and comes and sits in front of me. I want to eventually do Agility with her but if I cannot stop this sniffing and trying to eat everything on the ground, it could be a problem. Is it just an age thing or is there some way to stop her sniffing all the time?
 

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I don't know how to stop sniffing.
Most folks recommend training a dog before supper when she's hungry. What would happen if you tried the reverse and fed her before classes ? Also, are you allowed to use treats to lure or distract her?
 

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Sniffing can be a calming signal meaning "I am calm or I am going to stay calm" or a negotiation signal meaning "I am minding my own business or you can pass by". It can also be just checking out the scents locally. The calming signal is common in stressed dogs.
 

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Stress is a possibility, but I'll bet there are crumbs on the ground. Often, the preceding class will leave a veritable smorgasbord for the dogs that follow. Milkbone-type treats are usually the worst offenders.

Utilizing much higher value 'crumbs' than the ones she might find on the floor, is an effective way to counter. Perhaps some super-stinky cheese might work. Treats should always be delivered from 'above', rather than at floor level. Lowering your criteria (fewer steps w/ attention, etc) and keeping the rate of reinforcement very high to begin with, should help as well.

I've also heard of using a microscopic dab of Vicks Vaporub on the end of the dog's nose, but that should probably be the last resort if at all.
 
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