The importance of allowing your dog to sniff

The above TEDEd video helps us to understand how our dogs ‘see the world’

Dog’s don’t have the same vision as us, they don’t see the world the way we do. In fact their noses do a lot of the ‘seeing’ for them.

Their damp noses enable them to catch particles of smell on the breeze or on objects around them.

Did you know that they can smell individually with each nostril then enable them to determine the direction of the smell.

Dog’s noses have a separate areas for ‘smell’ which is different to the breathing channel, this allows them to focus some of the particles which ‘smell’ into this area where there are a high number of ‘olfactory receptors’ which register the odour and send it to the brain for processing.

Dogs have approximately 300 million of these olfactory receptors, compared to the 5 million we have as humans. (that’s 60 times more than us!).

Did you know that dogs exhale through slits at the side of their nose, rather than back out of the main channel through which they inhale, this allows them to continually inhale and build up the concentration of ‘smell particles’ by not pushing them back out as they exhale which is what humans do.

The olfactory system takes up much more room in a dog’s brain than it does in our brains, in fact up to 40 times more, which allows dogs to remember and differentiate many more smells than us, even if the concentration of the odour up to 100 million times less than we can even detect.

Every thing around dogs will have a unique smell; people, trees, rubbish bins, birds, insects etc. each will have an individual smell and also the dog will be able to tell which direction it is going in.

Dogs have a second olfactory system called the vomeronasal organ, it sits just above the roof of the mouth and enables them to detect hormones being released by animals (including us).
It helps them to detect friendly or hostile animals and they can also ‘read’ our emotional state.

Dogs can smell things that were there in the past not just in the now they can recreate a ‘story’ through their noses.

We’ve all watched our dogs as they undertake the process of “doggie peemail”, sending messages to each other on structures such as trees and lamp posts. This really is how dogs share messages, emotions and understand what is happening in the world.

We need to remember that whatever state we are in, the dog will be able to smell this and they will react accordingly.

Stressed? Your dog will know. Sad? your dog will have read this and may well ‘comfort’ you.

With training, they are able to detect smells that we could never imagine to, which is how dogs can detect cancer, drugs, landmines etc.

So the next time your dog is wanting to stop and sniff, remember that to your dog this is their life line, their sight, their understanding, it is what brings life and colour to their world and just stop and let them tap into their olfactory abilities and understand what is going on in the world around them, a world beyond our eyes that we can only dream to experience.

Published by Herdwick & Goose Limited

Founder and Programme Director of Animal Osteopathy International (Herdwick & Goose Limited)

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