Have you ever wondered why dogs spend so much time sniffing? Taking your dog for a walk may take much longer than usual if he suddenly finds an interesting scent and feels the need to follow it. This is because a daily walk, particularly first thing in the morning when there may be a variety of fresh scents available, can provide your dog with all the daily news he requires – a bit like taking a look at the morning paper!
Dogs rely heavily on their sense of smell to communicate with other dogs, as they have around twenty-five times more scent receptors than humans. Humans, on the other hand, tend to communicate more with their eyesight and sense of hearing, as these are their stronger senses.
Sniffing other dogs is almost like a greeting, and sniffing the rear end of their fellow canines will reveal a wealth of information. Scent glands are situated under the tail and by sniffing the area a dog can receive all the information it requires – from whether the dog is male or female, to whether it is friendly and in the mood to play. Sniffing humans can also reveal important information to your dog and can inform it of your recent activities and emotions at that time.
A dog’s nose is specially designed for scent and the longer it is, the better its sense of smell will be. This is why certain breeds of dogs, such as Bloodhounds and Spaniels, are used for tracking down the scent of missing people, drugs and detecting bombs – hence their name “scent hounds”. The long ears of these dogs actually drag along the floor and stir up more scent molecules for the dog to inhale. As a dog sniffs, scent particles are wafted around ready for the dog to inhale and store in various parts of the brain – these can then be visited at any time during the dog’s life.
The outside of a dog’s nose is always kept moist and this is also designed for maximum scent retrieval. The dampness of the nose works almost like a piece of Velcro and helps to attract and then stick the molecules onto the nose. These can then travel up the nostrils to relay important information to the dog.
Next time you take your dog for a walk, you will be able to understand its vital need to sniff and perhaps even find yourself pondering over its retrieval of daily news. However, this is perhaps not an activity that would go down well in the human world and it does tend to give a whole new meaning to the word “nosey”!