Dogs have an incredible sense of smell.
And on walks, they love to take advantage of it by sniffing around and investigating everything they encounter.
But is letting your dog sniff on walks really such a good idea?
There are benefits to allowing your dog to explore the world through their nose. Dogs use their sense of smell to learn about their surroundings and take in information just like we do with our eyesight. Allowing your dog to stop and sniff frequently on walks gives them a chance to do just that.
Second, dogs also use sniffing as a way to relieve stress.
When dogs are anxious or stressed, they often engage in what’s known as self-soothing behaviour, which includes activities like licking their lips, yawning, and sniffing.
So if your dog seems a bit stressed on walks, letting them stop and take a good sniff may help them to feel better.
Dogs enjoy sniffing on walks
When you take your dog out walking, one of his favourite things to do, is to sniff.
It’s one of his key motivators and how he takes in information about the world around him.
Think about it from your dog’s perspective, everything smells new and interesting, so of course he wants to stop and investigate as much as possible.
Sniffing is normal for dogs
Sniffing is perfectly normal for dogs.
Not only does it provide them with information about the environment but it also offers mental stimulation.
It helps your dog to maintain his well being and can prevent boredom and reduce the risks of problem behaviour.
You should give your dog every opportunity to sniff when he is out walking as they will get so much more satisfaction and enjoyment.
You’ll also find that your dog is more relaxed when he gets home and more likely to settle down to sleep.
Take your time and let your dog explore
On your next walk, take your time and let your dog stop to sniff as much as he wants.
You might be surprised at how much more enjoyable the walk is for both of you when you let him follow his nose.
Try to vary the location and get away from crowded areas to keep the walk interesting, both for you and your dog.
Get away from tarmac and let your dog run on grass and similar natural surfaces where he can get his nose down and really sniff to his heart’s content.
Sniffing is an important part of dog communication
Dogs use their sense of smell for communication.
They can pick up all sorts of information about other dogs from sniffing, such as whether they are friendly or not.
Your dog sniffs the lamppost to find out what other dogs have passed by, checking for scent marks which can provide him with the neighbourhood news.
Sniffing is also how dogs greet each other and get to know one another and often sniffs of each other’s bottoms are exchanged as these are generally the smelliest areas that provide the most details.
So if you see another dog on your walk, don’t be too quick to pull your dog away.
Let them sniff and say hello, as long as the other dog is happy for them to do so.
What else are dogs sniffing on walks?
It can be almost anything.
The power of your dog’s nose is simply beyond human comprehension and he can smell things that you cannot imagine, for example, it is said that dogs can smell their owners from 20 km away when conditions are right.
Most likely your dog will be smelling:
Other dogs that have passed that way
Wild animals such as birds, rabbits, deer and others
People that have walked along that route
He will sniff foliage on trees and bushes where animals and people have brushed against
He will raise his nose and sniff the air, smelling things drifting by on the wind from distant objects, creatures and locations
Should I let my puppy sniff on walks?
Absolutely. As soon as it is safe to take your puppy out he will need to learn about the world around him.
His main method of learning is by his sense of smell and you should look to take him to as many different places as possible to explore.
Smells at the beach will be different from smells in the forest or town and he will develop mentally through being able to experience these different types of environments.
Allow your puppy to meet other dogs and people too, providing that it is safe for him to do so.
Take every opportunity to allow your puppy to sniff and develop his understanding of the world.
You should definitely let your dog sniff on walks as it is normal for dogs and offers many benefits.
It helps to keep them mentally stimulated, can prevent boredom and reduce problem behaviours.
Sniffing is also an important part of dog communication and they use their sense of smell to greet other dogs and to find out information about their neighbourhood.
So next time you’re out walking, take your time, let your dog sniff and enjoy the walk more yourself too.
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