Since you have a million things to do and places to be, you might find your pup’s leisurely air a little annoying. Every dog owner is probably familiar with the struggle of tugging on the leash as your dog stops to smell the roses a little too long, or for the twentieth time on the same walk. However, science shows that the time your dog takes to smell their surroundings may be more beneficial than what meets the eye, or more precisely, the nose. Here are three reasons why you might want to set aside some sniffing time on your next walk with your dog.
The 3 Reasons You Should Let Your Dog Sniff on Walks
1. Sniffing on Walks Lets Them Fully Engage with Their Surroundings
While we might see a patch of grass, your dog is scouring through a virtual “encyclo-pee-dia” of interesting scents. The canine’s sense of smell is the strongest sense they possess. According to the VCA Hospitals, your dog’s sense of smell ranges between 1,000 and 10,000 times more powerful than yours! Your dog can pick up on anything from another dog in heat to the tracks of the postal worker’s shoes.
2. The Slow Practice Allows Them to Take a Deep Breath
Sniffing has a calming effect on canines. In fact, this joint study by the Laboratory of Research in Canine Ethology in Paris, France, and Barnard College in New York City compared the attitudes of dogs who were made to walk with a human side by side, and those who were allowed to stop and sniff freely. After two weeks, they found that the dogs who were granted the freedom to sniff had more positive biases than the group who had to hustle. Sniffing may improve your dog’s mood similar to getting a breath of fresh air outdoors.
3. It Engages Them Mentally
Letting your dog immerse themselves in the walking trail works a little like a treat puzzle. It gives your dog’s brain something to ponder, which is good for their mental health. Sniffing is hard work since they’re focusing so intensely while breathing vigorously. According to dog trainer Staci Lemke, even if you only walk for 20 minutes, your dog may be as tired as they would have been pacing at your side for an hour.
Taking a long sniff may seem like a waste of time to us humans. After all, isn’t exercise the point of walking the dog in the first place? Like humans, however, a dog’s mental health is just as important as their physical health. Sniffing on walks allows them to literally take a breath. Not only is it relaxing, but it also keeps them informed of the world around them, and is probably one of the main highlights of their day. Of course, dogs still need to exercise their leg muscles too. You might consider incorporating some “sniff breaks” into their exercise time to show your pup some love.
Featured Image courtesy of Pixabay