Why is Scent Important for Dogs?
Written by Tobias Roberts
Any dog owner knows that the moment one steps out the door for the daily walk around the block with your favorite furry friend, your dog's nose starts working at a mile a minute. There is a whole world of smells, odors, aromas, and scents to be explored, discovered, and….yes, peed on. For us humans, our sense of smell is generally one of the least developed. We tend to rely more on our vision and hearing.
Dogs, however, "see" the world and experiment with it through scent. Dogs' super-charged sense of smell allows them to interact with their environment through their noses in a way that we can't quite understand. Below, we'll look at the importance of scent for dogs and some favorite scents for your canine friend.
The Importance of Scent for Dogs
So why does your dog insist on stopping every couple of feet to smell a patch of grass, a mailbox, a strange flower, a piece of garbage lying on the road, and virtually everything else? Your dog's nose is a mighty organ. Whereas our noses only have about six million scent receptors, dogs have hundreds of millions of scent receptors in their noses. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that a dog will dedicate 40 times more brain volume to decoding smells than we humans do.
Essentially, dogs have a relationship with scent that our brains quite literally cannot comprehend. If we compare the amount of brain space dedicated to smell, your dog's sense of smell might be compared to how we use and rely on our sense of sight.
As your dog sniffs everything around them, they gather a unique, in-depth context of their environment, including information regarding other animals and humans that have traveled that route before them. A dog's sense of smell allows them to "see" back into time to understand who (or what) was in their vicinity beforehand.
Furthermore, dogs have a powerful "scent memory," which allows them to remember certain scents over many years. That's how your dog seemingly recognizes a friend from the dog park who she hasn't seen (or smelled) for several months. When dogs are away from their favorite playmate for long periods, they can perceive changes in odors to learn about where the other dog went, what they ate, and other activities.
Perhaps even more incredible, dogs may use their sense of smell to predict upcoming weather changes! A dog's nose is more sensitive to the drop in barometric pressure and the shift in the static electric field that comes before weather changes--which means your dog may also be able to predict when a thunderstorm is brewing.
What are a Dog's Favorite Smells?
Given the wide range of capabilities that come with your dog's sense of smell, dog parents need to be patient during their walks to allow their dogs to thoroughly engage with their world. When you only have twenty minutes for a walk before needing to leave for work, it can be frustrating when your furry friend decides it needs to stop to sniff every five feet. Thus, it is important to organize your time to allow for a special, relaxed "scent walk." During a scent walk, pet parents should simply let their dog stop for a sniff and stay engaged with that smell for as long as they want. This will allow your dog to engage their nose more thoroughly, thus absorbing the world around them more deeply.
Furthermore, a scent walk is an excellent way to learn what scents your dog prefers. Many pet products today tend to have intense fragrances and aromas mainly designed to appeal to the dog parent rather than the dogs themselves.
As any pet parent knows, dogs tend to prefer strong, animal-derived smells that we might find offensive. Animal feces from wild, carnivorous animals offer dogs a scent sensation they enjoy. Similarly, your dog may show a strange penchant for the scent of dead animal carcasses. Many animal experts think this slightly revolting behavior is a likely a holdover from wolves (your dog's ancestors), who will roll around in feces and dead things to mask their odor on a hunt.
If poop and dead animals are the odors and scents that your dog prefers, you will probably draw a line about satisfying these preferences, especially inside the home. Fortunately, dogs also have a fondness for more "tolerable" odors.
According to one recent academic study, "There is a need to differentiate between canine and human smell preferences. As there is limited scientific data related to canine smell preferences, this study aimed to verify dogs' reactions to selected scents, which can also be appealing to humans. Our study shows that dogs were more likely to interact with the scents of blueberry, blackberry, mint, rose, lavender, and linalol." In fact, the scents of lavender and coconut might even help your dog calm down and improve their sleep.
How Can Project Hive Pet Company Help you Satisfy your Dog's Sense of Smell?
As a pet parent, the best thing you can do to allow your dog to fully develop their sense of smell is to let them have time to sniff away. Be patient during your scent walks and observe your canine friend interacting with the endless world of smells they encounter. You should also avoid strongly scented shampoos, toys, and other strongly scented cosmetic products that might be agreeable to you, but may be unpleasant or overwhelming to your dog.
Project Hive Pet Company is another resource for pet owners looking for healthy and innovative toys and snacks that allow their dogs to engage with the smells they most enjoy. All dog toys we make are BPA-free, latex-free, phthalate-free, non-toxic, and made in the USA. Instead of smelling like synthetic plastics, our new line of dog toys incorporates pleasing aromas that dogs love: lavender, vanilla, coconut, mango, and wild berry.
Furthermore, if you are looking for dog treats, all of our treats are Non-GMO Project Verified and completely vegetarian. Our treats also contain no artificial colors or flavors and are naturally preserved, reducing our reliance on unhealthy synthetic chemicals. The treats are made with ground peanuts and a touch of organic honey, so they smell good too! Check out our online store to find the best toys and treats for your dog that will help them fully develop their remarkable sense of smell. Which aroma will be your dog's favorite?