Have you ever tried to get your dog's attention when they are busy sniffing something and failed? That is to be expected! With 40% or more of your dog's brain power dedicated to odour processing is it any wonder your dog CAN NOT respond when they are fully engaged in odour processing?
Dogs live in a different world than we do. Odour is important to them on so many levels. It's how they tell time, how they know which way to follow a trail, how they find resources like food and water and delicious stinky things to roll in. It is also how they find out more about the animals or people. Sniffing is the key to understanding the world.
When they find an odour they are processing you will see them fully engaged with it. This means HEAD DOWN and sniffing. During this time it is nearly impossible to get their attention. When they are so involved with the odour, everything else becomes background noise for just a minute while they sort out the smell they found.
So how do you get your dog's attention back? It is a good idea to let your dog finish sniffing and wait for the head to come up before you call them. When they are fully engaged you don't stand much chance of getting a response, but once they are finished your dog will be able to detach from the smell much more readily!
If you do manage to disrupt the sniffing process before they are done, you will be fighting with your dog if you need to pass the same area or if they still have access to it. Because they did not finish processing the smell they will try to go back and finish up. So generally it is easier if you let them get it out of their system the first time around.
That's not to say you shouldn't be vigilant as they sniff, after all, they could be thinking about eating something they shouldn't, and you may need to intervene if that is the case. Or in the case of boy dogs, they may be contemplating peeing on something. Sniffing is a TRULY DOGGY thing to do and it fulfils so many needs and natural instincts for them.
Setting up times where your dog can fulfil their needs and follow their nose is beneficial to both you and your dog. You can use sniffing as a reward for good behaviour (like walking on a loose leash, then rewarding with a sniff break). You can also set up sniffing adventures by hiding treats or scattering them in the grass.
Sniffing is one of the things dogs do best! It is a great way for them to destress, learn about new objects/people/animals, and fulfil those natural instincts and desires. It creates calmer, fulfilled and more accepting dogs. Sniffing is the key to 40% of their brain power! Time to look at it from their point of view!