We all know that dogs love to sniff… To be honest it can be a little annoying when we’re out for a quick walk around the block before work, or when they are getting a little bit too friendly with your house guests crotch.
Us humans are very visual and we sometimes don’t fully understand the importance of smell to our dogs…
Ever dropped a treat on the floor and watched as your dog searches about for the treat that is plain sight? Your dog is so busy sniffing about and using their nose they are not even bothered about using their eyes to find it.
Put two dogs together and the first thing they’ll do is go in for a bum sniff to find out all that essential information about each other.
It is estimated that dogs are 10,000 to 100,000 times more accurate when it comes to sniffing then we humans are. They have between 200-300 million olfactory receptors compared to our mere 5 million. Not only this though they have a special organ (the vomeronasal organ) which is thought to processes pheromone smells and dogs devote 30 times more brain space to the processing of this scent information. That means that sniffing isn’t just a physical thing that a dog does it is also using their brain, so can be tiring for them both mentally and physically.
Dog’s have the equipment for smelling – the slits on the side of their nose allow for old air to exit from the side as fresh clean air comes in through the central nostrils, this means new air and scent can be drawn in without it coming into contact with older scent. They can independently move each nostril, meaning that they can more easily distinguish the direction a scent is coming from. Dog’s separate this air with around 88% going for respiration and the other 12% being taken on a separate route for scent analysis.
In scentwork classes, dogs and handlers are taught to work together using the dog’s nose to locate a target scent. Challenge and complexity can be added to this as there may be multiple finds (or even no finds out at all), and the handler and dog team need to ‘clear’ the area working in a systematic manner. Handlers will need to observe their dog closely and at advanced levels may need to support their dogs in locating the source of the scent. Target odours may be a specific scent like catnip or clove (it’s the same skills as drug detection dogs use), or we may even use a specific food.
Unlike many dog sports, scentwork doesn’t involve expensive bits of equipment and kit. What you need is very limited so not only is it cheap, but it also means you can pretty much do it anywhere.
Research has also proven that dogs that do scentwork have a more positive outlook on life and are generally more optimistic, you can read more about this here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168159118304325
You can learn the basics of scentwork from just one lesson… be warned though, once you see the joy on your dog’s face you may just get the bug…The great thing about it is that you can take it as far as you want. To find out more about group classes or 121s email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Did you know a dog’s nose print is as individual as a human’s finger print?