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Ask a Trainer – Compulsive Behavior

Author: Nicole Stewart | Date: February 8, 2014

It’s time for another round of Ask a Trainer questions! It’s your chance to get dog training advice from the pros at AnimalSense. Stay tuned for more questions & answers, and if you have a burning dog training question, just “Ask a Trainer”!

We rescued a year old male cairn terrier (neutered). He recently started sniffing excessively, and won’t stop until we calm him down. He sniffs everywhere – under the sofa, the wall, the air, every corner of the house – he won’t stop until we go to bed at night. His eating and drinking habits are fine, and he normally gets at least four 25-minute walks a day, but with the cold weather we haven’t been able to walk him as much. He went through a spell of chasing shadows several months ago, but we were able to resolve that issue. We’ve tried putting him on his training leash and working with him to stop the sniffing by redirecting his focus, but it is not helping so far. What can we do to help?

First and foremost, I recommend a visit with a vet behaviorist. Without seeing your dog in person, your description rings with several possible causes. I’m obviously not a vet, but if this were my dog, I would want to rule out some abnormal possibilities before going forward with any other training. Often, when we correct a behavior such as shadow chasing, the dog may suppress this behavior, but most of the time, there is a high likelihood of the behavior coming out in another way, such as this excessive sniffing. I would start there. If the vet behaviorist finds nothing outside of the norm, then we can start to look at basic training solutions.


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