Cats and Dogs
Article Rating
1 звезда2 звезды3 звезды4 звезды5 звезд

Does smelling things tire dogs out?

3 Surprising Reasons to Let your Dog Sniff

Does your dog stop at every post on the street and every tree in the park? Are you constantly moving him on to get your morning walk over and done with so that you can get on with your day?

Scent and a dog’s sense of smell both play such essential parts in their lives that we do them a disservice if we don’t let them indulge.

Seeing the world through a dog’s nose

While we use our eyes to make sense of our surroundings, our dogs use their nose. Compared to the puny five million olfactory receptors in a human nose, our dogs have between 125–300 hundred million, which goes some way to explain why they love to sniff so much.

Not only do our dogs have more scent receptors in their nose, but they can use their nostrils independently to sample two smells at once.

In fact, a dog’s sense of smell is so sophisticated that as he samples an odor, he is distilling it into its individual components. So, while we smell freshly baked bread, our dogs smell yeast, oil, flour, salt, etc.

While dogs appear to sniff almost continuously without taking a breath, they are using their unique ability to separate the in breath into two separate channels as it enters the nose.

The first channel takes a portion of the air into the lungs and the second channel carries the rest into an olfactory recess for identification, enabling the dog to sniff and breathe at the same time.

The surprising benefits of sniffing

  1. It makes your dog happy

Scent goes directly to the limbic system of a dog’s brain. The limbic system is a primitive part of the brain that is responsible for a dog’s emotions and other behavioral systems.

As our dogs sniff, it activates this area of the brain, creating an emotional landscape for our dogs. What’s more, the limbic system is responsible for a dog’s ability to learn and remember which, in part, is why using smelly treats such as cheese works so well when training your dog.

  1. It tires your dog

While we generally think of exercise as being strictly physical, mental workouts are often more effective at tiring out dogs.

The effort it takes to sort and identify individual elements of an odor requires a lot of work. It’s a little like us trying to solve a tough logic problem—the required mental energy is tiring.

  1. It’s a bonding opportunity

We tend to train our dogs to do the things we want—which is good. But allowing a dog to engage in an activity that allows him to do something that he wants to do can also provide us with a great bonding experience.

Whether it’s formal scent work in a class or playing a “find it” game at home by hiding some tasty treats, your dog will love it.

Working with your dog to help him investigate a scent trail is the perfect way to engage with your dog in a game that he can control.

Don’t turn your nose up at something smelly

Sniffing is such a vital part of your dog’s world that depriving him of the opportunity to do so is a little like being blindfolded while trying to watch your favorite movie—while you can get a sense of what’s going on, you miss a big chunk of the story.

While you might not have the time to give your dog unrestricted access to every smell, even setting aside a short section of every walk where he can indulge his nose can keep your dog content.

Practical Paw is written by Kim and Mike, with inspiration provided by our own dog, Theo (the happy ginger chap in the photo). Whether you are brand new to sharing your life with a dog or an experienced dog parent we are here to offer you a Practical Paw on all things dogs.

We believe in positive reinforcement, kindness and respect to our animals. It is our aim to promote the well-being and best practice for dog lovers for all aspects of being a responsible dog owner.

Search our shop

New snacks on sale now for a limited time! Use code NEW for 15% off.

Should I Let My Dog Sniff On A Walk?

  • December 28, 2021
  • 3 min read

Getting a new puppy comes with a whole lot of questions. Am I feeding them enough? What can they eat? And why does my dog sniff everything? We know that getting a new puppy can just as worrying as it is exciting. We just want to make sure that our puppy is happy and healthy and do everything that we can to keep them safe.

Taking your puppy on their first walk is such an exciting moment, popping them in the brand new shiny collar and harness. But soon enough, they’re sticking their head into bushes, lampposts and everything in between!

We might want to tug them away but should you let your dog sniff on walks?

Dog Sniff

Keeping Dogs Mentally Stimulated

As we all know, dogs have an incredible sense of smell so letting your dog sniff on walks to utilise that sense of smell will help with their mental stimulation as they are free to explore and discover new things.

A puppy’s sense of smell is how they explore the new world around them and learn. Humans have only around 5 million scent receptors in our noses, but some dog breeds have over 100 million.

It is said that a dog would be able to sniff out a single drop of blood from an area as large as an Olympic-sized swimming pool.


Letting dogs sniff and explore will help to mentally stimulate your dog meaning that they will be more tired and relaxed after a walk.

Keeping dogs mentally stimulated is best for their own wellbeing and it can reduce the chances of any behavioural problems such as problems with biting.

Another great way to keep them mentally enriched is through interactive dog toys such as Lickimats or Strategy Games. By keeping their brain entertained, dogs feel calmer and less anxious.

Give Your Dog Choices On Walks

Lots of dog owners want to tire their dogs out with fast walks or by allowing their dogs to chase around the dog park.

Whilst this provides good exercise your dog, it may not be as mentally enriching as you first thought.

Fast walking does not allow your dog to sniff and explore whilst dog parks can be overly stimulating, especially if your dog is nervous around other dogs.

By slowing down on walks and allowing your dog to sniff and learn, it will be a much more rewarding experience.

Dog sniffing on walk

Walk somewhere peaceful where you can let your dog off the lead or use a tracking leash lead. These are long to allow for freedom and distance when training.

Dogs Sniff To Communicate

Dogs use smell to figure out scents. It may be annoying when they stop every metre or so but dogs can tell from a sniff whether another dog has been there, whether it is male or female or even if it is a dog that they know!

And of course, dogs sniff other dogs in a greeting. Just as we hoomans use a handshake to meet and greet, dogs will sniff as each dog has their own distinct smell.

Dog sniffing mat

Dogs may also sniff the ground to let the other dog know that they are not a threat. By not pulling them away, you will allow both dogs to feel more comfortable.

If you’ve got a new puppy, check out our Puppy Club for help and advice and join for 10% off puppy products for your pup’s first 6 months!

Link to main publication