Why your dog’s sense of smell is so important…
We’ve all been there, you’re on a dog walk and your pup is getting distracted smelling every single bush, street light or bin he passes. You may respond by nudging your dog along or pulling him away but it’s so important to let your dog smell and sniff and here’s why…
Your dog’s smell is his superpower!
Your dog’s smell is how he gets a unique take and insight on his environment. Remember, that all the time they are sniffing, they are almost being detectives and discovering what has occurred in that particular environment, who has passed by, who lives there and a basic timeline of all occurrences in that area. A sniff is essentially your dog processing information and his way of being a fantastic dog Detective.
Dogs can detect cancer and illness, dangerous explosives, drugs and even lost or missing people. One dog in the news even sniffed out rot in an 18th Century building refurbishment! Dogs can do this all with their supreme power of smell, plus they have a magic part of their brains that helps them process what the distinctive smells mean. Think of it as how we process the world around us by using our eyes and our vision to process what is happening. Taking away your dog’s opportunity to stop and smell would be like somebody asking you to go for a walk wearing a blindfold!
Sniffing and smelling- the numbers
Did you know that a dog’s sense of smell is up to 100,000 times better than a humans? Dogs have 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses (we have around 6 million) plus the part of their brains that analyses smell is huge! Dogs also use their sense of smell like a compass, finding their way home and recognising their loved ones purely based on smell.
Giving your dog time and space to sniff
As dog owners, it really is important to give our dogs the time and space to sniff! Only five minutes spent fully sniffing can tire your dog out as much as an hour’s exercise! They aren’t only using their noses but their brains too which can relax them and make them much more low maintenance and calmer when they are outside and back home.
If your dog is hyper and excitable and starts his walk uncontrollable and over excited, pulling frantically at his lead, time spent sniffing and using his nose to explore his environment can help majorly to control and redirect all of that excess energy. At the beginning of a walk, let your pup set the pace by having a good long sniff to investigate his setting.
Help for worried or reactive dogs
If your precious pup is worried or reactive, letting them sniff and smell is so good for them and can help them destress and feel less worried about the situations they are in. Think of it as letting them gather the evidence they need to assess a situation and feel safe in their environment. They are essentially smelling the historical scents of a place so they know if they can feel at ease. Weather changes and environmental changes can also affect what your dog sniffs and make it a new experience each time. For more information on how to help train an anxious or reactive dog, please visit our website to check out our training courses
Top tips for helping your dog enjoy his ‘sniff walk’
1.The first five minutes of a walk are really important for your dog to get a take on what is happening in his environment, so let him have a slow start, sniffing everything and try not to rush him. Remember, this is making him calmer and happier and is incredibly enriching for him
2. Opt for a longer lead so he can really explore with his nose. This will be so stimulating and enriching for him.
3. When visiting a new area or doing a new walk- remember that your dog will be excited to investigate the new smells with his nose. Let him spend longer figuring out his surroundings by sniffing as much as possible. Don’t tug on his lead or hurry him.
4. Even if you do the same walk constantly with your dog, it will still be super stimulating for him, even if he has done it 100 times. A new dog may have urinated in the area, next door’s cat may have walked past the hedgerows since yesterday, it is all brand new information to process for your dog! Your pup will find out way more from the environment by sniffing than we ever could.
5. Take time out to let your dog have a pure sniff walk. Let him decide the direction and take as long as he needs to sniff every scent. Don’t see this as a waste of time on a walk! It is so important for your dog’s body and mind.
6. Be mindful and watch your dog as he sniffs. You can find out what stimulates him and calms him and you will have a much happier, peaceful and more self assured dog at the end of it!
Let him stop and smell the roses (and everything else!)