Why Do Dogs Sniff?

Why do dogs sniff
Why Do Dogs Sniff?


Why do dogs sniff?

A lot of times when we walk our dogs and they stop to sniff some invisible scent, we tug on the leash and say “come on, bud.” We have things to do and can’t stand around all day while our dog smells every blade of grass in the park! However, sniffing while out for a walk is super important for dogs. While to us it may seem like there’s no real reason for it, smelling is actually very important to the way dogs experience the world around them. We have to remember that while we rely heavily on our vision, dogs rely more heavily on their olfactory sense and that is the key to why dogs sniff.

For us, our sense of smell can give us a general idea of what’s going on: someone is cooking nearby, a sewer pipe has burst, or spring flowers are in bloom. But for dogs, their sense of smell can give them a very detailed analysis of what has happened in a particular area: who has been there, how long it has been since anyone passed by, possible weather changes, or if there are any threats they need to be aware of. Think about working dogs who use their sense of smell to locate bombs, fugitives, and missing persons, or to detect certain types of cancers. This type of detection takes a pretty powerful nose, and since dogs have significantly more scent receptors than us, they’re the pups for the job!

Giving your dog have a bit of freedom to smell is their form of mental exercise. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should let your dog take charge and control the walk, going and sniffing wherever they please. Finding a balance between stopping to sniff and continuing to walk is important to giving your dog a truly enriching experience. Not every walk needs to be one filled with constant stops, but it is a crucial part of dogs’ communication with one another.

Try setting aside a couple of times each week to take your dog out on a ‘scent walk’. Let your dog choose the path (within reason) and let them stop and smell the roses, so to speak, as often and for as long as they want. You’ll likely see a difference in your dog’s attitude and behavior. Dogs are usually happier when they know what’s going on around them. It’s also a good opportunity for you to learn more about why your dog sniffs certain things. Are they super busy, running from tree to tree trying to sniff anything they can find in as short amount of time as possible, or do they find one spot and breathe it in deeply, taking time to ponder what exactly it is they’ve discovered?

Let us know in the comments below if you’ve ever tried a scent walk and how you liked it!

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