Frustrating Stops During Our Daily Walks

Why Does My Dog Sniff Everything

Is your dog driving you nuts by sniffing everything on walks? The American Kennel Club explains, “…their noses are far more powerful than ours. Humans have only 5–6 million scent receptors in our noses. Depending on the breed, dogs have up to 100 million or more scent receptors in their noses. And those terrific trackers we know as Bloodhounds have 300 million!”

This means your walks should include sniffing time for your dog. Here are some keys to keep in mind.

Environmental Exploration

Asking a dog not to sniff on a walk is like asking a human not to look. While humans use their vision to take in everything around them (primarily), dogs use their noses for the same purpose. As they sniff, they are collecting information about who or what has been in their area. They can identify other animals as well as humans. Because dogs also serve as great protectors, gaining this information is important.

Favorite Smells

If you’ve noticed your dog rubbing its ear against the ground or an object, they are leaving their scent for others to find. However, dogs will sometimes rub their ears against the ground to “take a smell with them” that they especially like. Having that scent near their ears ensures they can keep the smell close. Don’t worry too much about this. Most of these smells won’t be detectable to human noses. You are more likely just to smell the ground or grass.

PLEASE NOTE: This behavior can also be a sign of allergies or even more serious conditions. If it persists, contact your veterinarian. 

Marking Pathways

Just like people who go running in their neighborhood work out pathways, they plan to take, dogs will begin to recognize their daily walk routine(s). By marking and sniffing, they are becoming familiar with the pathway as well as communicating with other animals. The American Kennel Club states, “Marking is not the same as a dog relieving itself – it is leaving small amounts of urine on items (trees, bushes, couch) to leave a ‘calling card’ and to say ‘this is mine.’ ” Most often in a neighborhood with many dogs, it’s more of a calling card than a claim to territorial exclusivity.

Walking your dog is healthy for both you and your companion. Take time for your dog to know the neighborhood, communicate, and develop their regular spots along the pathway. However, don’t allow sniffing to eliminate the healthy aspect of a good walk. Your furry friend needs to know when it’s okay to explore and when it’s time to stay on task.

Our advice? Enjoy your walk and consider what communications are being passed along through sniffing, marking, and barking.


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