Dogs possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to about six million in humans. And the part of a dog’s brain that is devoted to analyzing smells is, proportionally speaking, 40 times greater than ours. Dogs understand the world through their nose. Dogs can be trained to sniff out cancer, drugs, bombs, find lost persons and almost anything else we want to train them to find. When a dog meets another dog, they sniff each other to learn about one another. A dog’s nose is quite amazing, and we humans have benefited much from their prized asset.
Pet Parent Question: “I have always wondered why my dog sniffs so much on our walks. Should I let him sniff or limit the time he spends sniffing?”
Answer: Once we understand the value of the dog’s nose, it is easier to understand much of their behavior. Dog’s sniff everything to analyze if it is safe or just to learn about it. I let my dogs sniff a lot on the walks. I see it as reading their newspaper about what dogs have been walking the trail lately. A dog sniffs another dog’s urine and can tell whether that dog is stressed or happy. Dog’s hate having a blow dryer forcing hot air on their faces, but they love hanging their head out the window of the car not for the breeze in their face, but rather for the bouquet of smells they are receiving.
Donna Chicone is an award-winning author, TEDx speaker and advocate for dogs. She lives in Woodbury. You might find her engaged in pet-assisted therapy work. superpetparent.com