Why You Should Let Your Dog Sniff on Their Walk

Walking your dog is an essential part of good pet care. However, if you keep your dog on a short leash, your pup could be missing out on the best part of the walk. A dog’s sniffing habits are not just about the pleasure of a delightful odor, but about developing one of their primary senses, getting important information about the world around them, and improving their cognitive abilities. If your dog is stalling at the tree trunk or lamp post, tugging on the leash and forcing them along could be taking away the most pleasurable and edifying part of their outing.

Here are five reasons why you should make sniffing a priority for your dog’s walk:

#1. It’s their dominant sense.

When it comes to our five human senses, the sense of sight is the most dominant. Our brain relies heavily on what we see to process and learn about our surroundings. For dogs, however, the prevailing sense is their smell. From one sniff, they can learn if any dogs have passed, how long ago, if it was a dog they know, what their gender is, what it’s eaten, and even what mood they were in when they passed. So, when your dog is dwelling at the fire hydrant, remember that it’s just like us hanging out at the water cooler catching up on the office gossip.  

#2. It tires them out.

While giving your dog a good work out on their walk can help to expend their excess energy and keep them from being overly rambunctious at home, sniffing also helps towards tiring them out. Sniffing challenges their brain, reduces stress, calms their nerves, and prepares them for a good dog nap. If you do go in for an active and/or highly sociable walk or park visit, follow it up with a sniff session to relax your dog from the high stimulation. 

#3. It empowers them.

Dogs rarely get any say in what they do. Their diet, their home, when they go outside, where they go—it is all entirely up to their owners. However, letting them take over their walks can be an opportunity to give them a sense of control, build confidence, and make their walks more satisfying. Slowing down, letting them linger on smells, and leading by scent will make for a more engaging, relaxing, and beneficial walk.

#4. It’s mentally stimulating.

In the same way you enjoy puzzles, reading, or other mentally stimulating activities, dogs like to challenge their brains through their sniffers. It is, after all, the channel they use to learn about and understand the world around them. Allowing them to work on their sense of smell can enhance their cognitive abilities and keep their minds sharp.

#5. It makes them happy.

Dogs love sniffing—so let them sniff! Encouraging your dog to put their snout first can elevate their mood and grow their confidence. It may even help to decrease other less desirable behaviors like barking, chewing, or worrying about where you’re at.

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