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How Can Sniffing Improve Your Dog’s Life?

Our dogs make no secret of how much they love to use their noses and have a good sniff.

Some dogs make a very respectable career out of their nose power, detecting drugs or explosives. Others though, put their noses to much more embarrassing use, crotch sniffing visitors or poking it where it’s really not wanted!

So why is sniffing so important to your pet? And what can you do to fulfill their sniffing needs without any embarrassment? 

As humans our primary sense is our sight, but for our dogs, smell is their primary sense. They learn most about their environments through sniffing and smell. The way something smells gives a dog more information than how something looks, sounds or tastes.

Your dog can identify smells at least 1000 times better than you can, pretty awesome! 

Cartoon of a dog sniffing the ground
Sniffing is a great stress reliever. ©Zigzag

It’s therefore pretty clear how important sniffing is to our four-legged friends. Walks aren’t just about stretching their legs. A walk is a great time for them to exercise their noses too and use their sniffing power to learn all about their local area and other dogs within it. Sniffing allows your dog to collect all sorts of information about the other dogs in the area such as their sex, age and size. 

Sniffing is a great stress reliever. When dogs sniff their heart rate goes down. This means it’s naturally calming and soothing and helps relieve any stress or anxiety that your dog may be feeling.

Processing all that information is pretty tiring for a dog and especially for young dogs and puppies. Allowing your dogs to have a good sniffy walk is a great form of mental, as well as physical, exercise. If long walks aren’t possible or are limited at the moment, factor in some sniffy games at home or shorter walks involving more nose work.

Just like you prioritize walking your dog, you should also make sniffing a regular activity. Allowing your dog to have a regular outlet for sniffing will put a stop to those less desirable and/or embarrassing moments! Here are our top tips for more sniffing time:

  • Allow your dog time to check their pee-mails, so less pounding the sidewalks and more sniffing time on walks or in the park.
  • Snuffle mats – hiding treats in a snuffle mat is a great sniffing game.
  • Set up scent trails at home using trails of treats. 
  • Play hide-and-seek games hiding treats or a favorite toy. 
  • A sandpit with hidden treasures is great for keen diggers as well as keen sniffers!
  • Try rolled up tea towels, with hidden treats, tied in a knot.
  • Use dog friendly essential oils, such as lavender, to get their noses really engaged. 

So there you have it, getting creative with sniffing activities will help enrich dogs’ lives, relieve stresses, help tire them out and, best of all, putting that nose to good work will prevent it going self-employed and landing in someone’s crotch, so it saves you blushes too!

About the Author

Lisa Milleret, Diploma in Companion Animal Behaviour (DipCAPBT Hons), ICAN Certified Animal Behaviourist is part of the Zigzag Puppy App Experts Team. Lisa grew up with a love for all animals but she always had a particular affinity with dogs and horses. She began studying with COAPE in 2007 and took the plunge in setting up her animal behavior practice in 2012 following completion of the level 5 diploma qualification. She has also worked with many rescue organizations including local dogs’ homes and breed specific rescues for beagles and basset hounds and she has a particular interest in teaching dog safety to children within schools.

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Zigzag  is a puppy training app with a difference, rather than focusing solely on obedience we take puppy guardians on a journey through Life Skills and important developmental stages, to hopefully give them happy, confident and well-behaved puppies, with an understanding that puppies and dogs aren’t robots, they have big feelings, and that’s ok!

Zigzag is a Pet Professional Guild Corporate Partner.

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