Forced Marches vs. Sniff Adventures

Forced March vs. Sniff AdventureBy: Melissa Kolmar, CPDT-KA

It is time to take your dog for a walk. You get them leashed up, (hopefully) grab your treats and head out the door. They are dancing around you, so excited to FINALLY be headed outside for some fun.

Here’s where one of your most important decisions happens. Are you going on a forced march or a sniff adventure?

A forced march is a boring walk on the leash. Very little sniffing is allowed and you keep up the pace even if your dog wants to investigate something a little longer than you would like (or at all for some). Sometimes, when we think of needing to give our dog exercise, we fall into the forced march trap. We think we need to keep them moving to give them exercise!

A sniff adventure is much more leisurely. We allow our dogs to explore and sniff till they are satisfied. We let them make choices about where to go (when it is safe to do so).

A dog will get more enrichment and exercise from a ten-minute sniff adventure than a thirty-minute brisk walk. How is that possible? Because when we are allowing them to sniff and explore, they are getting a ton of mental exercise. That brain is constantly going…taking in information from the surrounding area.

If my dog wants to sniff the same area for five minutes, I am there for it. She is getting so much more out of the experience than simply moving her body. If she wants to go left when I planned to go right, I’m going to follow her. This walk is for her, not for me. It’s her chance for adventure after being cooped up in the house.

Next time you head out the door with your pup, reject the forced march approach and choose a sniff adventure. Your dog will thank you!