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The Power of your dogs' nose!

Have you ever stopped and really looked at your dogs nose? A dogs' nose is their fingerprint. Did you know that Dogs' noses have more than 200 million scent receptors, compared to nearly 6 million in humans. Furthermore, dogs sniff 5-10 times a second, where as humans only once every 1.5 seconds.

For dogs smell is a vital role in their life. It is how they experience the world, and is crucial for their animal welfare.


In dogs, the air they breathe is directed to the nose in two seperate streams- the respiratory stream and the olfactory stream.


A study (Canine smell preferences, 2022) has shown that dogs are more likely to interact with the scent of lavender. Evidence has shown that lavender can affect both humans and dogs by lowering their heart rate, as well as increasing the rest and sitting time. Similar results were also achieved with Shelter dogs. The shelter dogs that were exposed to lavender were calmer, and they also saw similar results with the use of Chamomile fragrance. However, peppermint and rosemary increases free radical scavenging activity and decreases cortisol (stress hormone) in saliva, which results in more relaxed, happy dogs.


Just like in humans, dogs also can be triggered by smells of a previous memory. These odours can evoke emotional memories, In addition it has been demonstrated that people and even dogs with PTSD have major recollections of negative experiences. Therefore, it is vital that we take note of the odours that are present and are used around our house/surroundings, as they can be a trigger for your dog, causing behavioural issues, and emotional stress. There is nothing worse than seeing your dog stressed.


Smells should also be used as a major component of your dogs enrichment program. The enrichment of your dogs environment is vital for improving your dogs' welfare and overall well being. Just think back to the times during Covid lockdown when we were not allowed outside, visits to the park, beach, shops, or friends house were prohibited. Everyone went stir crazy. The most exciting part of our day was when Phil our Postman arrived, or a delivery came. For some dogs that is their constant life. During Covid to cope with this boredom cooking became something you looked forward to doing.

Why is that you say? Well, just the smell of a great home cooked meal, such as the smell of bacon cooking, or onions on the hot plate suddenly builds, excitement, joy and conversation. People begin to enjoy the experience without even knowing it, thus showing the power of smells in all of us. So imagine experience for a dog who has a far surperior nose and sense of smell.


So how can you add more odour enrichment for your dogs you ask?

  • snuffle matts

  • scatter feed

  • nose work

  • take them on a new walk and let them sniff

  • add interesting new scent to their bedding

  • hide and seek

  • scent trails

  • cup game (which cup has the treat under it)



Benefits of letting your dog sniff and use their nose


A study from the Applied Animal Behaviour Science Journal 2019 suggest by letting your dog sniff, it makes your dog feel more optimistic, and the sniffing offers an opportunity for your dog to make more of their own choices and engage in naturally enriching behaviours, become mentally stimulated, gain confidence, and in the end be more relaxed and tired.

  • Sniffing supports anxious dogs- by slowing down your fast paced walks and letting your dog have mindful sniffs can lower their pulse rate, and increase dopamine. This will boost their mood, and create and well rounded confident dog. It is all about finding a safe, calm place to let your dog sniff, and let their guard down. This can help reduce the amount of stress in their overall lives. Just think how much we enjoy a walk to relax when we are stressed.

  • Sniff walks require patients and time given by their owners as apposed to a cardio walk with your dog (fast paced, high level of fitness, not much sniffing). Dogs can get a lot of sniffing done in about 20-30mins and can be just as tired as an hour walk without sniffing.

  • Stimulates their mind.

  • It's fun!

  • Burns built up energy, and this reduces destructive behaviour in your homes/backyards.

  • Helps them to become more relaxed and settled.

Why do Dog's Sniff more during and after windy weather?


Have you every noticed your dog stops to smell more on a windy day, or the day after a windy day? The reason for this is because all of these new and exciting smells have been blown into their usual walking route. For a dog this is so exciting, they get to smell new animals, plants, food and people they would normally not encounter. These new smells provide your dog with the opportunity of gathering further information about the individual dog such as what they have been eating, and where they have been. It is the dogs' way to catch up on the local news and gossip.


Shadow enjoying her snuffle matt



https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/12/12/1488


https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/applied-animal-behaviour-science/issues


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