By: Danette Johnston
Owner - Dog's Day Out, Ballard, WA
Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA)
Licensed AKC CGC Evaluator
NW Coordinator, Doggone Safe
Whether you are looking to bring a new dog into your home or you just want your dog to hang out with your friends or family members’ dog, being able to read the dogs’ body language is imperative for success when introducing dogs. Be sure to give yourself an education on canine body language before proceeding with dog introductions!
I have two ways I generally recommend having dogs meet each other:
1. TANDEM/PARALLEL WALK- For non-leash reactive dogs.
Equipment needed: Dogs on regular leashes (no flexi-leads) and harnesses (no neck collars).
2. TANDEM PLAY – I use this when one of the dogs is too leash reactive to be able to do a parallel walk, even at a distance. We often use this with shelter dogs who we want to let play with other dogs but are so leash reactive that it would take months working on the leash reactivity before allowing them to get the much-needed play with other dogs. Reactivity on leash is not necessarily indicative of off leash behavior.
Equipment needed: A large, preferably neutral yard such as a Sniffspot or large room with some sort of barrier in the middle, dogs on leashes and harnesses, and possibly muzzles and long lines (see below).
TOOLS TO USE – if we are unsure of how one or both of the dogs will react, I will often use long lines and basket muzzles. A long line gives the dog freedom of movement with no leash tension but a “handle” for the humans to grab if needed. It is crucial that a dog be conditioned to a muzzle before using during introductions. I do NOT want to slap a muzzle on a dog and then toss him in with other dogs. Use a basket muzzle (not cloth) so the dog can get treats through it, drink, pant and play. A fantastic and comprehensive resource for muzzle training is the Muzzle Up Project website.
Sniffspot is like Airbnb, but for off leash dog spaces. Anyone can earn money from sharing their yard as an off leash dog space. Anyone can find the perfect nearby off leash space for their pup to play in.
You can learn more about how it works at www.sniffspot.com.
You can learn more about hosting here.
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By: Kristin Rosenbach
Owner - Wagnificent K9 Truffle Dogs, LLC
Freelance Truffle Hunter & Teacher
Reiki Master Teacher
When I made the decision to begin truffle hunting, I never imagined how much our lives would change.
I became fascinated with truffles after tasting them on a trip to Italy. I joked that I was going to teach the dogs to find truffles. One day, in a random internet search, I discovered that they grow where I live, here in the Pacific Northwest. I decided that it was meant to be. And I’ve never looked back. I learned everything I could about truffles and scent detection. The adventure began.
During that time, Callie, my Border Collie, was injured in an agility accident and would be on restricted activity for several months. We needed an activity to keep her happy while being compliant with her restrictions. Truffle hunting is a scent detection activity where a handler and dog work in partnership to locate underground gourmet fungi called truffles. It was perfect! Little did I know that learning to truffle hunt would not only satisfy her mentally and emotionally during her recovery, but it was also going to change our relationship.
Many years ago, I made an agreement with Callie to stop using the term “reactive” because it feels limiting to me and I want the two of us to evolve in our partnership. I stopped seeing her as reactive and began respecting her discomfort around other dogs by protecting her space. Gradually, she became more accepting of less space and I, perhaps more importantly, became less charged by OUR triggers. We both understood each other better. We both saw the world as a less scary place.
Part of that process for us involved learning to find truffles. It was an activity we could do without the stress of being around other people or dogs. We could connect in a way that was much deeper than ever before. One person and one dog, hands and paws in the dirt, and surrounded by the soothing energy of nature. We made up our own rules and learned our own language, one that is perfect and unique to only us.
As the years went by, I began noticing significant changes in our ability to cope with suburban challenges, recover from stressful events, communicate with each other, and respond to the other’s needs. I owe this partnership that I cherish so much to the discoveries we made while learning to find buried treasures that only a dog’s nose can find.
Here is why I believe truffle hunting is a great activity for reactive dogs and their owners:
Each truffle hunt is unique so you and your dog will be continually developing your communication skills while diving deeper into your relationship and understanding of one another.
I’ve been truffle hunting with Callie for 8 years now and we continue to experience shifts in our relationship as we grow. We come back from every hunt filthy, exhausted, and happy.
You can learn more about truffle hunting with your dog and get started for free through my masterclass series on the podcast What The Dog Nose. I’ll be releasing new lessons during the 2018-2019 fall and winter truffle seasons. I encourage you to choose the best learning environment for you and your dog and that is why I’m making these masterclass lessons free.
Wagnificent K9 Truffle Dogs, LLC
“Shifting the way people relate to and partner with animals.”
Sniffspot launches website and mobile app to provide private land for reactive dog exercise and enrichment
SEATTLE, October 17, 2018 – Sniffspot, the marketplace that provides private land for reactive dog exercise and enrichment, has announced the release of their website and mobile apps on iOS and Android. Through this website and app, reactive dog owners can find the ultimate solution for exercise and fun for their dogs.
“Dog ownership is becoming more urban, but it’s really hard to own a reactive dog in a city,” said Sniffspot founder David Adams. “Exercise is one of the hardest things. Most folks take dog exercise in the city for granted, but it’s really hard to find a place to exercise a reactive dog. Sniffspot provides any easy way to find and visit private off leash areas that are safe, clean and fun for dogs to exercise.”
75% of dog owners report that their dog has some reactivity with 22% reporting that their dog is always or usually reactive. Some experts believe that reactivity is growing especially in urban dogs, who need to contend with constant invasive stimuli. Despite the prevalence of reactivity, reactive dog owners are often made to feel alone and there is a dearth of reliable support options for them.
Having a safe area to play and sniff is essential to having a healthy dog. Research shows that dogs get up to 3x better exercise off leash than on leash. First, off leash dogs can run and play, which, similar to humans jogging, burns more calories for them. Second, and more importantly, sniffing new areas is an important part of a dog’s mental exercise and reduces overall anxiety and hyperactivity.
Public dog parks are core parts of city infrastructure, but their free and open nature can also be a limitation. These spots are not private, so they are not an option for reactive dogs. There is no screening of dogs entering these spots to ensure they are vaccinated and free of parasites. There are no enforced requirements for owners to closely supervise their dogs, which can result in dog altercations, dog injury and has even resulted in dog fatalities. There have also been cases of contamination, where dog feces, diseases or other poisons make dogs visiting these public dog parks sick.
Sniffspot partners with local land- and homeowners in the Seattle area and across the US to provide safe and fun private play areas for dogs. Options vary from the rolling hills in our fully fenced, five-acre Country Pasture Getaway to the 175 acre PaJo Ranch in Monroe, WA. There are also many fully fenced yards inside Seattle itself. Sniffspot especially caters to reactive dog owners, whose dogs are often fearful and hence need private spaces to play. Each sniff spot listing provides information on fencing, privacy and our reviews include a section focused on whether the sniff spot would work well for reactive dogs. In addition, hosts can certify whether they have experience with reactive dogs.
As of today, these “sniff spots” are now all easily accessible through a website and mobile apps on iOS and Android. The website and apps include simple log in, detailed search filters including mapping, and booking in just three clicks. This update is one more step on the journey of Sniffspot working to make the world a more reactive dog friendly place.
Download our iOS app
Download our Android app
Browse our new web app
Many folks in the Sniffspot community are looking for more enrichment options for reactive pups. We did some research to find the most interesting enrichment options for reactive dogs by 1) asking reactive dog owners in the area, and 2) asking some local trainers for input to make sure these are the highest quality options for you (see the end of the article for more information on the trainers that reviewed this article).
For those of you not familiar with canine enrichment, enrichment is about providing activities for dogs that stimulates their brains and their bodies. By enriching your dog, you can make them happier and healthier. Specifically for reactive dogs, enrichment can help them with focusing on positive stimuli rather than negative stimuli, and reduce reactivity.
We recommend some local options for getting started with these, but you don’t need to take classes or work with a trainer to get started. You can also get great resources online, for instance, the Canine Enrichment Facebook Group.
1. Try truffle hunting
This may seem strange to you, but truffle hunting is actually a popular outlet for reactive dogs because of the concentration required, game aspect and being alone in the woods! Kristin Rosenbach at Wagnificent K9 is a good resource in the Seattle area for this!
2. Recycle things into dog toys
You can really do anything you can imagine here. We recommend empty cardboard milk cartons with peanut butter for an easy everyday option, but use your imagination. Make sure it is safe and there are no pieces that could tear off and cause issues if swallowed. Here are some more ideas.
3. Try nosework
Nosework is a sport where dogs need to find a hidden object using smell and alert their handler. It’s popular for reactive dogs because it is generally solo and it teaches concentration. A local trainer we recommend for this is Erica Wells at Dogs Day Out.
4. Try out a snuffle mat
A snuffle mat is a mat with rows of fleece strips where treats can be hidden for the dogs to find over time. Reactive dog owners are raving about how much their dogs love them! You can find these to order on many online outlets.
5. Give them a sandbox to dig in
Some dogs love digging, but most dogs don’t get to do it very often. Give them free rein to dig to their heart’s content by creating a sandbox for them. You need the yard space to cordon off a small area for the sandbox. Or you can visit one of our wooded or farm sniff spots, like Dormant Logging Land, to let your dog dig all they want.
6. Take your pup swimming
Swimming is an amazing way for dogs to find a new way to exercise and explore. Give them time to get used to the water and get comfortable. Make sure to always swim in a safe area and use a doggie life preserver if appropriate. Check out some of our most popular sniff spots for areas to swim, like Pajo Ranch.
7. Have fun with a flirt pole
Flirt poles are like fishing poles for dogs, except instead of a hook at the end, there is a dog toy. They’re great for teaching self-control to dogs that have a hard time focusing, because they allow you to control the toy. And they are just a lot of fun to give your pup a work out. You can read more about them here.
8. Try sheep herding
Ever wondered whether your dog would be good at herding? Well, you can now find out! Many of the highest energy dog breeds actually have a history in herding and this can be a very productive way to get their energy out. In fact, many herding breeds tend to be more reactive than other breeds. You can try herding out with your pup at Fido’s Farm, located just south of Olympia.
9. Try canine parkour
This is a great activity for reactive dogs in urban environments. Parkour can help to focus pups on their activity, so they are less focused on scary things in their surroundings. You can read more about parkour here. We also have sniff spots with parkour equipment, like Puppy Parkour in Montlake Terrace.
Of course, our local sniff spots also offer myriad opportunities for enrichment for your pup. Check them out here!
Trainers that reviewed this article
There is so much misinformation out there, we want to make sure we only provide the highest quality information to our community. We have all of our articles reviewed by qualified, positive-only trainers. The trainers that review our content are reviewed by other trainers to ensure that we have the best quality filters on our content.
These are the trainers that reviewed this article:
Lori Stevens (CPBC, CPDT-KA, CCFT, SAMP) is an animal behavior consultant, a professional dog trainer, a canine fitness trainer, an animal massage practitioner, and a senior Tellington TTouch® Training practitioner. She continually studies the interactions among animal behavior, movement, learning, fitness, and health. She uses intimidation-free, scientific, and innovative methods, in an educational environment, to improve the health, behavior, performance, and fitness of animals. Lori's most recent of three DVDs By Tawzer Dog Videos is co-presented with Kathy Sdao and called 'The Gift of a Gray Muzzle: Active Care for Senior Dogs' --it focuses on improving the life of our aging dogs. Lori gives workshops worldwide and has a private practice in Seattle, WA. She also teaches online classes at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy.
Lori gets joy from helping others help their dogs whether for competition or daily life. She enjoys hiking, training, and playing with Cassie, her Australian Shepherd.
Read more about Lori Stevens at SeattleTTouch.com
Eric Sueltenfuss is a Certified Canine Specialist through the Northwest School of Canine Studies. He is dedicated to furthering his knowledge through continuing education courses and trainings. He has studied animal learning theory and a broad range of science-based training techniques and practical applications.
Bridge The Bark is part of a community of Force-Free practitioners, dedicated to changing the world of canine training.
Read more about Eric here.
Photography is a key element to help a host truly showcase their Sniff spot and attract new guests.
Although location is the first attribute in a guest search, it will be that thumbnail that lures in a potential guest.
Photography needs to show available space, amenities, scale and most of all a fun place for you and your dog.
The following guide will help you to take amazing photos of your sniff spot.
You can also hire an affordable Sniffspot approved professional photographer to make your listing the most attractive that it can be. Learn more here.
Photography for smaller spots
Small spaces will be the most common and rented Sniff spots within the community. Making sure you are showing clear images that showcase the entire area is key.
Wide angle shots that show all aspects of the available area.
Shoot from a corner - this technique shows a broad range of space and adds dimensionality to the photo. Shooting flat can make a space seem smaller than in real life, while corners help give a sense of true perspective.
Photography for large spots
Large spaces are for the adventurous, and the images should help support this.
Large wide open shots showcasing just how vast the Sniff spot is. We want to show everything that is possible and all the fun that can be had.
Highlighting aspects such as creeks, woodlands, tracks are a great way for future guests to see and plan their visit.
Time to set yourself apart from the rest. This is where you can show what makes your Sniff spot a higher quality space.
Amenities can be for both the owners and the dogs. From benches for guests through to dog agility training equipment.
Dogs are encouraged in secondary images and we recommend having shots of them running wild and enjoying the space.
If the Sniff spot has amenities this is another great opportunity to show them off.
These shots can be guest submitted to help show a variance in dog breeds to we are not being selective.