“Why does my dog sniff so much?” “Why does my dog sniff the same thing every single time they pass it?” “Do all dogs insist on getting their snout right in the tail area of every new dog they meet?”
These are the types of questions that emerge when you’re taking your pup out for their morning potty break. Chances are, you just want them do their business so you can return inside for your morning caffeine. What’s more, the sooner they finish, the sooner they can enjoy their doggy breakfast. Despite your wishes, though, your pupper insists on sniffing every stick, stone, and sign post they can find.
So, why exactly do dogs do this? Should we be giving them their time to smell things out, or can we maybe convince them to hurry it up, especially when we’re ready to move on? In this article, we’ll answer all your doggy olfactory questions!
“Why does my dog sniff everything they find?”
Why do dogs sniff? For the same reason why we humans open our eyes in the morning—it’s the way they experience the world.
Actually, that’s not a very good comparison. Because even though our eyesight is pretty good, a dog’s sense of smell is phenomenal. Some estimates claim that dogs can smell anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 times as well as their two-legged companions. In other words, that they smell things as far as 20km away!
And when they can get their snout up close and personal to a leaf or a tree stump, that’s when dogs can really get a feel for the world around them. To understand how it works, you have to know a bit more about doggie neurology. Our four-legged friends have a much larger portion of their brain devoted to their olfactory sense—about an eighth of their brain capacity goes to their sense of smell. That means that they don’t simply smell the objects around them, they analyse them.
Consider something like a stick that your pup picked up at the dog park. With a couple whiffs, they may smell the last person who picked up that stick and threw it for their dog. They may pick up the scent of all the interesting insects that crawled on the stick. There may be other smells that they can’t quite place, but want to figure out what that familiar scent may be—similarly to how we may try to remember the artist of a song we haven’t heard for a while.
You can take a closer look at your dog’s smelling organ by reading our article, 4 Mind-Blowing Facts About Your Dog’s Senses.
“Why does my dog sniff other dogs?”
The general rundown of how a dog’s sense of smell works is impressive. But, when you start asking “Why does my dog sniff other dogs,” the answers are even more fascinating!
You may know by now that dogs smell each other as a kind of greeting. But just how much information this quick sniff can provide is surprising.
When dogs smell each other, they can find out crucial data, such as the other pup’s health status, age, and sex. This information can tell them whether a new dog is friendly, hostile, or sick. And it could even tell them whether that pooch is looking for a mate. So, you can see that this initial sniff is much more than a human’s handshake. It’s more like a super quick first date!
“Why does my dog sniff me?”
You’ve probably noticed your dog sniffing around your ankles and hands after you just got home from another Pet Owner’s house. But, it’s not just when you’re sporting another animal’s scent that your dog wants to whiff you.
In fact, our dogs are smelling us all the time. According to some studies, dogs can smell human emotions, like stress and fear. And, their sense of smell is so powerful, that dogs are even being used to sniff out certain medical conditions, like various forms of cancer.
You may feel a bit uncomfortable having your pup’s snout constantly poking around. Remember, though, that it’s a gesture of love. They’re just checking in and making sure you’re okay.
“Is sniffing necessary for our dogs?”
Okay, so we know that dogs are good at smelling. But do they really need to smell every single fence post that they pass?
But, if we want to give our pups the mental stimulation they need to be happy and healthy, then we should give our doggos the chance to smell to their heart’s content! Sniffing provides mental stimulation and a sense of wellbeing for our dogs. It allows them to explore and understand the world around them, which is necessary for confidence.
So, if we want our dogs to be relaxed, confident, and content, we will think of their smelling sessions as necessary. And, the next step will be to ensure we give our pups plenty of safe opportunities to follow their snouts.
“How can I make sure my dog doesn’t run off when they smell something interesting?”
You want your pup to be able to live out their scent-tracking dreams while still keeping them safe. If you have a dog who tends to run after a scent without a thought to the world around them, then you’ll want to have some safety measures in place.
On the one hand, you can consider allowing them to sniff it out in enclosed areas. The dog park, for instance, is full of enticing smells that are sure to keep your pup sniffing for as long as you’ll let them.
If you want your doggo to be off leash in more open areas, then, you’ll have to find a way to overpower that drive to follow the scent. Dogs should always be well-trained in recall when they’re going to be off leash, especially if they’re prone to following their nose. You might also rely on a dog whistle or their favourite toy to regain their attention. And, if you can’t trust your pup to come back on command, then you might invest in an extra long leash that will allow them to sniff without pulling your arm all the time.
“Can I train my dog to sniff better?”
Of course! Training your dog to hone their sniffing skills is akin to you taking up piano lessons or learning how to surf. It will be a great opportunity for exercise and mental enrichment for you pup.
Take a look at our article, How to Train Your Dog’s Sense of Smell, for some fun at-home scent training sessions. And, as your doggo starts to dominate your at-home smelling challenges, you might consider signing them up for tracking training with a professional.
The next time you take your doggo out for a walk, marvel at their incredible sense of smell!
Sure, when it’s cold out and you just want to get back inside for your morning coffee, you might want your pup to stop sniffing everything. But now that you know just how essential it is for your doggo to smell the world around them, why not give them a few extra minutes to sniff their surroundings? And if you have a doggo who really loves sniffing, make sure that their friendly Dog Walker knows to give them some dedicated smelling time on their walks.
Do you have some interesting answers to the question, “Why does my dog sniff?” Let us know about your dog’s amazing sense of smell!