There are some days when you just want to get on with the walk because you have to get to work. Your beloved pooch on the other hand, just wants to sniff. Here we look at the importance of sniffing for your dog, why your dog might sniff everything on a walk, and what they get out of it.
The anatomy of a dog’s nose
First it’s important to understand the difference between our noses and a dogs nose. A dog’s nose has up to 300 million receptors unlike a human who has up to 5 million. This makes their noses incredibly sensitive to smell. In fact so sensitive, they can detect odours as dilute as a teaspoon of sugar in two Olympic sizes swimming pools! That is why they are expert assistance dogs detecting tiny changes in odour that indicate a diabetic patient has low blood sugar levels or that a cancer sample is negative or positive. Find out more about Medical Detection Dogs and the work of their amazing dogs’ noses here. And here‘s the collar (and matching lead) we give all their accredited assistance dogs.
Why does my dog sniff?
Imagine going on a walk blindfolded. Not being able to see your glorious surroundings. Impressive buildings that would make you gasp at their grandeur; stunning flowers that remind us how beautiful nature is. This is what it is like for your dog on a walk who cannot sniff. Yes, they are getting exercise, but there is an important element missing for them. When your dog sniffs a tree where other dogs have been, he can tell about how long ago it was, what they ate, and their gender. For dog’s it’s like catching up on the local gossip!
Is sniffing good for my dog?
Allowing your dog time and opportunity to sniff is incredibly good for him. He uses mental energy when he sniffs. From his early sniffing as a puppy, it takes time and practice to work out what the smells mean. As you or I might enjoy a crossword or a video game, your dog gets similar mental stimulation from sniffing. He learns what the smells tell him. This is another reason why it’s great to vary your dog’s walks so he can be exposed to new smells and new stimulations. In summary, sniffing is very good for your dog. Walking your dog is important for his physical well-being but so is sniffing as it tires him out mentally too. It keeps him mentally engaged, reducing the risk of early cognitive decline.
And other dogs?
You’ve probably figured out that since dogs can’t talk to each other (we don’t think!), they can get a lot of information from each other by sniffing. It’s one of the first things dogs do when they get together – if permissions have been granted! Although Hooch would sometimes be a bit too keen and get a bit of a telling off from another dog for going in for the sniff too presumptuously!
In summary, your dog has an amazing nose and when allowed to use it regularly and freely on his walks, he is keeping himself happy, healthy and knowledgeable.
Check out our other health blogs here.