We've all been there — you've had a busy day and still have multiple things you need to cross off your to-do list and all your dog wants to do on your evening walk is meander along having a good sniff!
The slow pace can feel frustrating at times, however, as much as you might not feel like doing so, it’s important to let your dog sniff around at least when you aren’t in a rush.
Just like a desire to play with the best puppy toys, sniffing is a natural behavior for canines, and one that can have plenty of benefits — and expert trainer Zak George has explained more in a recent Instagram post.
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George describes sniffing as a “window into your dog’s world’, as it’s a way for them to interpret their environment — much as we humans, with our superior eyesight, might have a look around to take in our surroundings instead.
He acknowledges that it’s not always possible to let your dog sniff to their heart’s content whenever they want, but says, “On your regular outings with your dog, try to shift your mindset from the ‘annoyance’ of sniffing now that you know about its vital role in your dog’s life.”
As he says, sniffing isn’t merely a habit, but a “journey into a rich sensory world”. And while it’s important to train your dog to leave things, for example, to keep them safe, it’s important to encourage sniffing.
Your pup has 300 million olfactory receptors, he explains. This means that dogs have a far superior sense of smell to humans, who boast only a few million in comparison. As a result, sniffing and smelling things is a huge part of a dog’s life, and is important for their mental and physical health.
In George’s video, he shows a dog sniffing some moss on a rock, and explains that it might carry scents from animals and “natural elements that have interacted with them over time,” like pollen and rainwater. It might be of absolutely zero interest to us, but our dogs find it stimulating.
And what about giving your dog the chance to sniff when they’re at home? Are snuffle mats good for dogs, for example? Well, the answer is absolutely. Tthey can be a great way to give your dog some physical and mental stimulation, and let them use their nose and that excellent sense of smell to get some tasty food!
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Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.