We all know what it's like when you run your dog out for a walk and he stops to sniff every few steps. The thrilling feeling of victory when you get the pee + poo and can go back inside. Especially now that it's getting colder out, our inclination can be to rush the walks. We are here to tell you to slow your roll and let your furry friend take it all in. There actually are benefits to it!
Dogs can smell up to 100,000 times better than humans. Smelling is how dogs interact with the world. According to Dr. Jennifer Coates DVM, dogs devote 40 times more brain volume to decoding smells than humans do. It's near impossible for us to relate to a dog's sensitivity to scent. The closest equivalent would be to human site. Dogs use smell to understand their environment. Dogs need to sniff in the same way that they need exercise and socialization.
Dogs can be trained to sniff out bedbugs, bombs, solve crimes and sniff out diseases. It's almost incomprehensible for humans to understand how much those cute noses can do.
It can be embarrassing when your pooch immediately smells another's dog nether region. Try looking at it like a human handshake. It's their way of figuring out if a dog is male or female, if their familiar, friendly, if they are near or far etc... Essentially, smelling a dog's butt puts your dog at ease. Even dogs who live together often smell each other's rumps. It's just them saying "yup, you're still my sister". Just like when your significant other starts using a different shampoo or perfume and your first thought is "you don't smell like you". Dogs do the exact same thing.
Not every walk has to be a scent exploration but sometimes you want to build in time for your dog to explore the world. Dr. Gabrielle Fadl, DVM, Bond Vet says, "We should allow our dogs to be 'nosey,' and investigate the world around them. Sniffing is the way they parse information." That said, sniffing can also be a way for a dog to show he is nervous or stressed. Make sure to supervise walks, stay off your phone and pay attention. Dr. Fadl suggests, "Green and grassy parks are heaven on earth for our canine companions. Parks with large meadows, lawns, or even gardens can offer an interesting and safe place for dog's to use their mastery sniffing abilities." But "please be aware of potential insects, plants, or flowers that could pose a risk to your pet".
You can also use your dogs sense of smell as a game. Try scattering kibble across a grassy lawn or through the house. Allowing your dog to search for food is fun for them and is a great way to exercise both their brains and their bodies.