Updated: Jun 5, 2022
To a dog, there is no such thing as “fresh air.”
Every breath is full of information—in fact, what every dog knows about the world comes mostly through their nose.
So take a breath (through the nose, pulease..) and let me take you on a journey of smells..
NICE TO SNIFF YOU
“Come on, hurry, we are going to be late. We have to walk fast; I don’t have time for you to sniff. Let’s GOOOO!”
Does this sound like your typical morning walk? You’re hustling to clock your daily route with your dog, and all he wants to do is sniff. While it may slow you down, it turns out that your dog might get more out of “reading” the morning pee-mail than from walking a longer distance without stopping to sniff.
Or does your dog 'great' every visitor with a sniff in the crotch ? So embarrassing for all parties involved—except for the one doing the sniffing.
WHY DO DOGS SNIFF ?
For dogs, they explore and ‘see’ the world principally through their noses.
"The sense of smell in all dogs is their primary doorway to the world around them."
According to Dr. Alexandra Horowicz, canine researcher and author of Being a Dog: Following a Dog into the World of Smell, dogs have 50 times as many scent receptors as humans. They have approximately 300 million scent receptors in their noses, and an additional organ called the vemoronasal organ above the roof of their mouths and under their noses. So while your dog is licking the ground and tasting the air, he is acquiring extremely detailed information through his superior olfactory organ.
Humans have only around 5 million scent receptors in our noses, but some breeds have over 100 million.
Another incredible fact she shares with us: dogs smell separately with each nostril – they smell ‘in stereo’. This allows them to quickly determine the direction a particular smell has come from.
SNIFFING IS GOOD FOR YOUR DOG
It’s good for their health. The act of sniffing lowers a dog’s pulse rate. Studies showed that this was more effective when on a longer lead and even more so when loose. The more intense the sniffing, the more the pulse rate drops. They experienced lower pulse rates when sniffing, whatever their age, size or gender.
Dogs who aren’t allowed to sniff on walks may have higher stress and anxiety levels than dogs who get to sniff whenever they like. They might be over-excitable or reactive. They may be constantly alert, looking out for things with their eyes. Sniffing is calming and can help lower this stress.
HOW CAN YOU HELP YOUR DOG ?
First, make your dog’s walks enjoyable by allowing more chances to sniff. Hydrants and tree trunks aren’t something to rush past or avoid. They are important sources of information for your dog. However, you don’t want to spend your entire walk sniffing the same tree. Use your “leave it” cue to tell your dog when it’s time to move on. Better yet, reward short stretches of loose-leash walking or heeling with frequent sniff breaks. Teach a “go sniff” cue when it’s time for the break, so your dog knows it’s okay to relax and catch some odors.
Let dogs use what their mommas gave ‘em. They have noses that are as important to them as our eyes are to us.
To your dog, that morning walk is actually going something like this:
You: We’re late.
DOG: Wait.. waaait... this is AMAZING info.. !
You: Let’s GO.
DOG: But, you have no idea! The Boxer from down the street is expecting a litter! I read it in the daily Pee Mails..
SNIFFING FOR SENIOR DOGS AT HOME
Let’s remember too, that sniffing is all the more important for older dogs or dogs that are recuperating or have a health condition with restricted mobility.
Give them toys and games or even a snuffle mat so they can sniff out their treats. (this can even be an old towl you use with some treats hidden inside.. Don't worry, your dog will sniff them out.
LET your dog sniff, they need it for their health. You will notice they sleep and dream deeper if they get the chance to sniff more (I notice it when Grigri get's the chance to sniff.. they dream more vivid)
a dog mom, waiting till "very slow reader"-Grigri is done reading his pee mail..