Canine expert reveals five reasons why you should let your dog sniff for a healthier, happier pup

Dog sniffing in a grassy field
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When it comes to walking the dog, we often have a destination in mind, a route to follow, and a schedule to keep. But what if we told you that taking the time to allow your dog to sniff around during your walks could significantly benefit their overall well-being?

We all want what's best for our dogs, from providing them with the best dog treats to ensuring their happiness and fulfillment. But sometimes, it's the simplest activities that can make the biggest difference. 

While it might seem like a simple pleasure for your pup, the act of sniffing is one of the best ways to have more fun with your dog on walks. It can have meaningful effects on their mental and physical health, making it an essential part of a happy and healthy dog's life.

Melissa Goodman, a certified dog trainer who trained at the Victoria Stilwell Academy For Dog Training & Behavior, recently took to the Mission Pawsitive Instagram to share five compelling reasons why allowing your dog to sniff is an essential part of their routine.

In her video, Goodman breaks down the five key benefits of letting your dog indulge in their olfactory senses:

1) It's Tiring Mental Exercise

Sniffing engages your dog's brain like nothing else. Goodman emphasizes this in her post, "Letting your dog sniff is one of the best things you can do for them. Did you know 20 minutes of sniffing equates to roughly an hour of physical exercise?"

If you need evidence of this, read this dog owner's experience: I tried a 45-minute 'sniffari', and it tired out my border collie more than a two-hour hike.

2) Lowers Heart Rate 

Goodman notes in the video that allowing your dog to sniff lowers their heart rate, promoting a sense of calmness. This reduction in heart rate can help reduce nervousness and anxiety in dogs. This leads us to the next benefit...

3) Reduces Stress

Sniffing has a calming effect on dogs, highlights Goodman in the Mission Pawsitive post. It can help them unwind and alleviate stress, making it a valuable tool for anxious pups.

4) Dogs See the World Through Their Nose

Dogs are incredibly scent-oriented animals. They explore, learn, and understand their surroundings primarily through their sense of smell. Restricting their ability to sniff is akin to denying them a significant part of their sensory experience.

5) Releases Dopamine to Their Brain 

The act of sniffing releases dopamine in your dog's brain, the "feel-good" neurotransmitter. This means that sniffing not only makes them happy but also reinforces their desire to explore and engage with their environment.

So, the next time you're out for a walk with your pooch, consider allowing them to take the lead, quite literally.

Jessica Downey
Staff Writer

With over a year of writing for PetsRadar, Jessica is a seasoned pet writer. She joined the team after writing for the sister site, Fit&Well for a year. Growing up with a lively rescue lurcher kindled her love for animal behavior and care. Jessica holds a journalism degree from Cardiff University and has authored articles for renowned publications, including LiveScience, Runner's World, The Evening Express, and Tom's Guide. Throughout her career in journalism she has forged connections with experts in the field, like behaviorists, trainers, and vets. Through her writing, Jessica aims to empower pet owners with accurate information to enhance their furry companions' lives.