Why does my dog need to smell everything during our walks?
Taking your dog for a walk is seldom a straightforward, quick walk around the block. No pole, bush or street corner will go unsniffed. What is so fascinating about that particular pole? What are all these other smells they are picking up on during your walks?
Walking the same round every day
As a dog owner, you probably walk the same round every day, through your neighbourhood or a nearby park. You see the same trees, bushes and houses every day. Maybe you even keep meeting the same dogs and owners that go for walkies when you do. Perhaps you think it’s a wee bit dull or maybe you relish the routine. Whatever the case, at least it gets you moving and you can see your dog enjoying the walk, and they may even launch a protest when you diverge from your regular route.
So, let’s take a look at this walk from your dog’s point of view. While you’re seeing the same every day, your pup is having loads of different experiences. They ‘see’ the world with their nose and the scents of this world change always. But how come dogs have such a keen sense of smell?
A superior nose
A canine nose is a much more complex organ than a human nose. The first difference is that dogs can use each nostril separately. That means they smell in stereo, which is why they can locate precisely where a smell is coming from. In addition, dogs cannot breathe in and out through the same hole, as we humans do. The air flows out the side of the nose, and this air flow collects traces of scent in the nose, which is why they pick up scents much better than we do.
Brain analysis shows that the area that stores and analyses scents is relatively large in a doggy brain. They possess a vast library of scents. When they walk past a tree, they don’t only know what type of tree it is (although probably not their names…), but they also know which birds and insects are currently residing in that tree. They also smell every recent passer-by that has left a trace of their scent. They’ll not only know what they had for dinner but also their state of minds and whether they are healthy or sick. That’s because dogs can pick up hormones of other dogs and animals, and humans. That’s why a dog always knows whether someone is friendly or aggressive, or if someone is sick or expecting.
Let them have at it
Back to walkies. A tree isn’t just a tree as far as your pooch is concerned. It is a world of information, that will tell them something new every day. By smelling, they will know exactly what’s what in the neighbourhood. So, give your dog a moment to sniff the trees, poles and cars. Gathering this info is essential to them, and it helps them train their olfactory organ.
What’s a daily routine to you is a fresh trip full of new experiences to them. Remind yourself of that next time your pooch is immersed in an endless sniffing session. You may feel it’s taking way too long, but your dog will probably feel it’s not nearly long enough.