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For Goodness Sakes, Let Them Sniff!

Why dogs need time to sniff & smell while out and about.

sniffing

The importance of giving dogs time to smell the roses.

French dog trainers Cristina and Aurélien Budzinski did a study called “At the Heart of the Walk” which has offered some very interesting insight as to what is happening beneath the surface when dogs go on walks. 
They found that the more intensely dogs sniffed, the lower their pulses. This information coincides with Dr. Alexandra Horowitz’ belief that excessive negative behaviors like anxiety/aggression/barking is often caused by a lack of information, due to inadequate opportunity to smell out the situation...literally.

According to Kate Bigger, President of Performance Scent Dogs Inc., scent work is “the ultimate test of our willingness to suspend our need to control our dog’s actions and help our dog’s be successful as they navigate the invisible world of smell.” 

Imagine walking into someone’s house who has been baking. The smell hits you, and you know that delicious baked goods are just around the corner. You might even be able to detect what kind of baked goods... "chocolate chip cookies?" your nose tells you. Yum! Now, imagine you’re a dog.  You walk into said house and can smell not just something baking but also the individual ingredients: chocolate chips, flour, baking soda, egg, butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and whatever other  ingredients were used. And that’s just what’s in the cookies let alone thousands of other "smellable" details.

To put it another way, the human nose contains about 5 million olfactory sensors, while certain types of dogs have as many as 300 million olfactory receptors!

Unlike humans, dogs have a special scent organ called the vomeronasal organ (A.K.A. Jacobson’s organ), located between the roof of the mouth and the bottom of nasal passage. 
The vomeronasal organ specializes in detecting pheromones. 
The portion of a dog’s brain that is dedicated to smell is roughly 40 times larger than that of a human! 
1/8 of a dog’s brain is dedicated solely to interpreting odor!  




I’m not suggesting that EVERY outing with your dog has to be a “scent walk" but my hope is to help people have a better understanding of the huge role that scent plays in our furry companions lives. 
So, let them check the pee-mail, get the daily gossip around the fire-hydrant, whatever, but for goodness sakes, let them sniff!

The next time you take your dog for a walk, ask yourself, how would your dog rate YOU on your walks? 

*Fun fact:

“Your dog’s nose has a pattern of ridges and dimples that, in combination with the outline of its nostril openings, make up a "nose-print" believed to be as individual and unique as a human’s fingerprints.”       Neat!
(“Understand a Dog’s Sense of Smell,” by dog psychology expert and author Stanley Coren and dog trainer Sarah Hodgson.) 





Resources:
Melissa Locker, “The Importance of Letting Dog’s Sniff,” Southern Living, March 25, 2020
Stephanie Gibeault, “Why Does My Dog Sniff Everything?,” American Kennel Club, November 07, 2019
Melissa McCue-McGrath, “The Importance of Letting Your Dog Sniff,” The Farmer’s Dog, March 22, 2017
Victoria Schade, “The Importance of Scent Walks for Dogs,” PetMD, September 14, 2020
Dr. Karen Becker, “Common Mistakes Owners Make When Walking Their Dogs,” Healthy Pets, January 27, 2021

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