A Dogs Sense of Smell

A dog’s sense of smell is one of the most amazing things on this planet. From the moment a dog is born, they have the ability to use their nose to smell the world around them. They also use that ability to find their mother’s milk.

As dogs get older they use their smelling abilities in incredible ways. Dogs can smell things that have happened in the past, such as who or what has been there. This varies from dog to dog, but some dogs can smell what has been there up to one week ago. Amazing right?

Dogs’ noses can also smell things that we can’t see. They have a special gland for this, it’s called the vomeronasal organ and is located above the roof of the mouth. They use this gland to smell hormones that all living beings give off, and it can help the dog to identify if a scent has come from a friend or foe.

Humans can benefit from this amazing ability in many things such as search and rescue, scent detection and much more. Dogs can alert humans to medical episodes before they even happen! All thanks to that trusty scent gland that picks up on the change in smell that the body gives off.

Your dog doesn’t need to be a highly-trained working dog to reap the benefits of scent work. By simply scattering their food around your yard you can get their noses hard at work. This can turn an otherwise lazy meal in a bowl into an opportunity to stimulate your dog's senses and mind. What makes this sort of enrichment even better, is that it’s both a natural instinct for them, and will make them mentally tired. Just 10 minutes of scent work is roughly the equivalent of a 1-hour walk.

Meeting a dog’s mental needs is just as important as meeting their physical needs. This is especially important for working breeds that physically could go all day.

Written by Kim McLean – Canine Educator at Doggy Daycare

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