Let Your Dog Sniff on Walks
We are extremely pet friendly so we are all about your fur babies health and happiness here at Kitterman Woods. Getting your fur baby out the door for his/her daily exercise will always be a step in the right direction.
While you’re busy looking at the scenery, your dog’s nose is working overtime. They walk a few feet before stopping to sniff, and then they take a few more steps to find something else worth smelling. It’s tempting to tug on the leash to keep them moving in a forward direction, but a worthwhile dog walk isn’t always measured in miles or minutes. Every now and then, it’s important to let your dog stop and smell the roses…and the fire hydrants, and that bush, and maybe even that fence post way over there.
While humans are mostly visual creatures, dogs are all about smells.
3 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Your Dog’s Sense Of Smell
#1 – Parts Per Trillion
James Walker, former director of the Sensory Research Institute at Florida State University, estimates that a dog’s sense of smell 10,000 to 100,000 times more acute than ours. Putting this into perspective, we’ll assume that a dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 times better. If we apply this to vision, it means that what we can clearly see at 1/3 of a mile a dog can see at 3,000 miles. Dogs can also detect certain odors in parts per trillion. Say we notice a teaspoon of sugar in our coffee; a dog would notice a teaspoon of sugar in one million gallons of water. That’s pretty amazing!
#2 – Special Architecture
Dogs possess 300 million olfactory receptors, compared to our measly 6 million, and their noses function very differently from our own. When dogs inhale, the airflow is split into two different paths – one for respiration and one specifically for olfaction. Their olfactory receptors then filter through this air and distinguish unique scents. The way dogs exhale also allows them to sniff almost continuously, and the way the air leaves a dog’s nose actually helps bring new scents in. Further, dogs can move their nostrils independently and even determine which nostril a scent entered. This way, dogs can determine the direction of a scent with high accuracy.
#3 – Distinguishing Magic
It’s one thing that dogs can distinguish actual scents among infinite distractions, but it’s another that we can teach them to enjoy scenting so much. Search and rescue dogs remain focused on their tasks, or assigned scents, regardless of everything else around them. Think about a dog in the wilderness searching for a lost child. This dog will not only be able to physically distinguish between the smells of the forest, the animals and the missing child, he’ll be able to tell which way the child’s scent moves and make the conscious decision to lead his handlers in that direction.
All dogs need regular exercise to stay physically healthy. Going on walks is especially important for high-energy dogs. A long walk or run seems like the only way to deplete a young dog’s abundance of energy, but physical exercise isn’t the only way to satisfy their needs. Sniffing a particular scent and then interpreting the accompanying information is the canine version of a mental work out. They won’t be running miles or building up muscles, but being mentally engaged is equally important.
Getting your dog to exercise their brain will stave off cognitive decline once they reach old age and keep them from chewing up your shoes when they’re young and eager for entertainment. A walk where they’re allowed to sniff until they’re mentally content is the perfect opportunity to address both your dog’s physical and mental needs.
If you only have time for a quick trip down the road and back, do your dog a favor and focus on mental enrichment instead of distance traveled. Depending on your dog’s abilities, a 15-minute walk won’t do much to tire them out physically, but that same amount of time spent sniffing and processing scents will satisfy their need for mental enrichment.