For years I have been encouraging fellow dog parents to allow their dogs to sniff more frequently when out on walks. A dog’s sense of smell is their most powerful sense, and humans don’t exactly understand how important it is that a dog use their nose. Recently I saw an image on the Dog Decoder Facebook page which referred to “sniffaris” – a walk where you allow your dog to enjoy sniffing. Jill Breitner explains that a “sniffari” is far more enriching for a pup than a 30 minute walk at heel. But why? In this post I delve into why it’s important to let your dog sniff.
Why It’s Important To Let Your Dog Sniff
Dogs sniff. It’s just what they do. Dog’s sniff because that’s how they “read.” Their sense of smell allows them to “see” the world differently than we do as humans. Has your dog ever started crying when you get to a fun destination like a special park? They aren’t seeing it – they are smelling it.
Sniffing is the most mentally stimulating activity for a dog. Sure, walks are important for exercise, but dogs aren’t reaping all the benefits unless they are allowed to sniff as well. A dog getting mental exercise is just as important as a physical workout.
Pet parents seem to get annoyed when a dog stops to sniff frequently. I admit that I used to be that person because you just want to walk and get home. But then I realized that it’s not all about me when I take my dog on a walk – ultimately it’s about THEM. So why not let them do it their way? I take Wynston out on walks for his benefit, and I want to be sure that it’s truly worth our time. Wynston sniffs and marks a lot, but by the time we get home I know he’s gotten an enriching workout in, both mentally and physically. When Wynston stops to sniff and pee on something, I say he’s checking out a sweet Facebook post, or reading his “wee-mails.” 😉
Since dogs lead with a sense of smell, it’s also important to switch up your walk routine. Let your dog lead you down a new path. Let them take you where their nose is bringing them. It makes walk time more fun and interesting for everyone! Walking the same loop over and over and over again gets monotonous for all involved. So next time you take your dog on a walk, give them the chance to discover a new route with their working nose.
Ideas for Allowing Your Dog to Sniff Without Getting Frustrated
- Take a separate walk for yourself if you need to: If you’re taking your dog out on a walk for your exercise as well, consider taking one by yourself. This way you are getting adequate exercise and you don’t get frustrated when your dog stops.
- Be mindful: Leave your phone at home when you take your dog on “sniffaris.” Be mindful of the fact that your dog is enjoying all of the messages that the world is conveying to him.
- Take a new route: Don’t keep going on the same walk every. single. day. Switch it up! Check out a new path, go left instead of right, discover a new park. Your dog will get endless mental stimulation from all the new smells.
- Remember the importance: If you find yourself getting irritated when your dog is stopping a lot to sniff, remember how important it is that they do so. It’s an incredibly enriching and necessary activity for your pup.
Other Reasons Why It’s Important to Let Your Dog Sniff
- It’s important to let your dog sniff so they do not become bored, stressed or anxious.
- It’s important to let your dog sniff because this is how they communicate with other dogs and animals.
- It’s important to let your dog sniff because it’s the best mental stimulation.
- It’s important to let your dog sniff because it’s natural.
- It’s important to let your dog sniff because it’s how they connect with the world.
- It’s important to let your dog sniff because it enriches their lives.
I always let Wynston sniff on walks, at events and when we travel. It’s important for him, and it means a lot to me as a dog mom. Are you guilty of getting frustrated when your dog sniffs too much? Perhaps there’s a compromise and you can allow your dog at least one “sniffari” a day. Whatever your situation is, please start allowing your dog to sniff more often!