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Sally G.
Sally G., Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 9640
Experience:  Service /assistance dog trainer,Therapy dog evaluator and trainer, AKC evaluator, pet first aide and member of PAS Animal Response Team.
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My dog goes outside sniffing the air and put her tail right

Customer Question

My dog goes outside sniffing the air and put her tail right between her back legs she struts around the garden and looks scared. We thought she didn't like the smells of BBQ but it keeps happening and its as if she is looking for a smell to freak her out. How can we stop this?
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. Have you looked to see if there is a wound on their foot?
Customer: no she does not have any wound on her she is 10 years old lab cross
JA: What is the dog's name?
Customer: Kia
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Kia?
Customer: Not she is very active loving dog she is walked 4 times a day when she is out on a walk she is fine
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Sally G. replied 2 months ago.

Hello and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I have been in the dog field for 25 years. I am a Therapy Dog & AKC Evaluator/trainer/ as well as an assistance/service dog trainer, specializing in behavior. It will be my pleasure to help you today. It may take a few minutes for me to type a personal response or type questions regarding your situation. Your patience is very much appreciated.

When did this start to happen?

Did you notice anything different in the area when this happened?

Is there anything new in the home, people ,pets, etc?

Do you ever notice other odd behaviors when not in the garden?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
We have not changed anything in the house or garden she plays happy until the early evening when she starts sniffing the air then starts freaking out. Which is why we have assumed it BBQ or cooking meat smells that is distressing her. If we cook roast lamb in the house she doesn't like it she puts her tails between her leg and goes off to another part of the house. Although she will eat some of the cooked lamb with not issues. How can we stop this?
Expert:  Sally G. replied 2 months ago.

I wonder if it coincides with another animal or insect coming out at that time of night, or is she associating something that happened when you were cooking with the smell in the air.

In either case , given her age, you have to decide how important it is to change. Aside from her wanting to leave the area, is it disrupting her life necessities? If it is not then I would not do too much at this time to try to make her change because overall you could make things worse.

However you can try the steps of desensitizing by making that place a good place to be in at that specific time of night.

You can try to have her make it through the area before she has the time to stop and smell, this keeps her mind moving forward. I would put her on leash and give a command such as heel, and reward that heel with a special treat that she will only get at this time.

You can then try laying some of that treat on the ground through the area so she concentrates on that smell and follows that path with her nose to the ground looking for the next treat. It is possible that once she does this on her own a few times, she will break the cycle.

The other possibility that I wonder about given her age, is if she is starting to go through canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) or sundowners which will have the dog show strange behaviors.

CCD is not usually noticed too much by the owner when it starts, but usually where there is a drastic change in behavior or when the dog seems to forget its potty routine and begins to go inside the hoe is when the owner notices it.

I would try the above suggestions and then if there is no change with this or you notice other odd behavior talk to your vet about CCD.