A dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times more powerful than ours. To put this in terms we can better understand, let’s start with the equivalent comparison in our sense of vision. If you can see something a third of a mile away, your dog can see it 3,000 miles away. Or in terms of taste, if you can taste a teaspoon of sugar in a cup of tea, your dog could taste a teaspoon of sugar in a million gallons of water – that’s two Olympic-sized pool’s worth of water.
Let’s, for a moment, consider the skill involved in tracking a missing person. The dog is first given the target scent, such as an item of clothing belonging to the missing person. He then sets to work following that scent. Along the way he’ll smell a myriad of odors – a rabbit hiding in the undergrowth, some cat urine, or deer scat perhaps – but he stays focused on the target scent, which is truly incredible.
True stories abound about dogs and their unbelievable sniffing powers.
Dogs can also sniff out a person wearing or carrying explosives. They can sniff out drugs even when those drugs are sealed in air-tight canisters and surrounded by other smells.
Our bodies betray our emotions in olfactory ways. Human skin is covered in sweat glands and sebaceous glands that secrete different biochemical scents when we are happy, anxious or sad. A dog can pick up the different smell of these hormones and be affected by them.
In a study, participating people were asked to watch a movie. Some watched a scary movie (The Shining) while others watched a happy movie (Jungle Book). Swabs were taken of each person’s skin secretions after the movie.
A group of participating golden retrievers were each presented with a swab. Those presented with a swab from a person who watched The Shining showed signs of distress. They did not interact with strangers and sought comfort and reassurance from their owners. Those presented with a swab from a person who had watched Jungle Book were more relaxed, wagging their tails and confidently interacting with strangers.
There are six key factors;
Dogs read the local gossip through their noses, and write their own messages in their urine, so don’t be tempted to drag him away from an interesting hotspot of odors. This is his chance to read the canine community board.
There are sports you and your dog can play that celebrate the sense of smell. Scent work (sometimes called ‘nose work’) involves your dog being given a target scent to find. Normally this is a cotton swab doused in essential oil hidden in a pot. In the sport of tracking trial, your dog must follow a scent trail to find certain articles.
Vitamin A is associated with healthy sensory cells in a dog’s nose and brain. Give your dog vegetables (especially carrots and sweet potato), eggs and organ meats such as chicken, which are all good sources of vitamin A. Providing a healthy wholesome diet for your dog will keep him sniffing away for years.
Keep your dog in prefect health with our free WAGSTA walkies, weight and wellness tracker! Join the pack and create the optimal healthy lifestyle for your dog!
Create the optimal healthy lifestyle for your dog with WAGSTA walkies, weight and wellness. Learn more now.