The walk together could be so relaxed – if you didn’t have to stop every few meters and wait for your dog because he is sniffing a bush again. Or on a garden fence. Or the dust. A stone. But why is it like that?
It is part of everyday life with a dog – even if it definitely belongs to the annoying part: Your dog reliably thwarts your plans to “just take a short walk” by sniffing every tree, stone and blade of grass. The temptation is great to just roll your eyes in exasperation and simply pull your four-legged friend on.
But that’s exactly what you should avoid – because the sense of smell is extremely important for dogs: They perceive their surroundings even more than through the eyes. This is why our four-legged friends love to go nose-first on exploration tours.
Veterinarian Dr. Andrea Tu: “The sense of smell is one of the most pronounced senses in dogs, and their sense of smell is far superior to that of humans”, she tells “The Dodo”.
Your dog sniffs for orientation and communication
Smells not only help your dog to explore its surroundings – they are also an important part of its social behavior and communication with other animals or other species. That is why so many dogs sniff each other’s buttocks first, and even the human step is rarely safe from inquisitive dog noses .
Dogs’ sense of smell actually develops in the womb – that’s why they mainly recognize their mother by her scent. Dogs take in significantly more information about their environment than we do by sniffing. And they just have a lot of fun!
That is why you should let your dog sniff in peace
The big role that smells play for dogs makes it clear that you shouldn’t move your dog on immediately if he wants to sniff extensively while going for a walk. “Let your dog sniff as much as possible on roses, grass, stones and on the ground,” advises vet Dr. Do. “That’s half the fun for him when walking.”
She compares the behavior as follows: In many ways it is hardly any different than when we scroll through the Internet and social media for hours to gather the information of the day and the lives of others in our community.
This is how your dog’s sense of smell works
The mucous membrane in the nose, with which we humans can smell, is about five to 13 square centimeters and contains five million receptors. Compared to dogs, this is negligible: dogs have a 387 to 432 square centimeter olfactory mucous membrane with 220 million to two billion (!) Receptors. “That’s why their sense of smell is 50 to 1,000 times better than that of humans.”
If your dog can’t sniff enough, you can also stimulate his sense of smell with nose work – but extensive sniffing during the walk is not a substitute for this.