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Walkies are a relaxing time for both the dog and the owner in question, but there are times when our dog may do things that bring us out of the zone with excessive sniffing being one of them.

But, is it really that bad?

I’d personally say no. It’s one of your dog’s main ways of interacting with the world around him and being out somewhere that isn’t his own territory is always going to make him do it.

It doesn’t matter how hard you try to train it out, the instinct will always be present.

And it’s not a bad one. For dogs, it’s an actual benefit, especially for ones that don’t have the luxury to interact with a lot of other animals, but why is it good to let them do it?

Let’s find out.

1. It’s How Your Dog Interacts With Other Dogs And The Wildlife Around Him

two dogs sniffing each other in a walktwo dogs sniffing each other in a walk

A dog’s olfactory senses are incredibly potent, with well over 100 million receptors compared to our 6 and with the part of the brain devoted to it being 40 times larger than ours.[1]

Needless to say theirs is incredibly advanced and can help them sense a wide number of things compared to what we use it for.

It’s so strong that they can sense the current mood of the person leaving said scent.

Their particular interest during a walk would be to find out whether a female dog is in heat or how many different dogs frequent the area they’re walking around.

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They get to tell whether these dogs are potential rivals or simply future friends.

This is also why they pee on nearly every tree they can get their paws on, to leave their own scent, not just for the sake of territory, but to announce their presence to other doggos.

For them, sniffing is like tapping into the internet of the animal world, offering them a wide array of information that they sift through.

That’s why it takes them so long to linger around one particular area, sniffing it up for minutes at a time in some cases.

2. It Gives The Dog A More Positive Attitude

dog on a leash sniffing grassdog on a leash sniffing grass

While it may sound like a ridiculous claim, allowing your pet to sniff makes him feel more independent, like the leash isn’t there and that he’s exploring on his own.[2]

So, give the leash some slack and let him lead a little. It’ll improve his mood tremendously and you’ll have a happier doggo for it.

3. It Makes Him Feel Less Restrained

chihuahua dog sniffing the grass in the parkchihuahua dog sniffing the grass in the park

Tying into the earlier two and for dogs who have no access to a proper yard, this one is very important.

Our canine companions can get a little stir crazy if they’re cooped up in the house for too long.

Those with the luxury of a yard get a place to unwind while apartment doggos don’t.

They get to be surrounded by these natural scents which are important to any pooch, whereas the indoor pupper doesn’t get the luxury of exploring new smells all too often.

That’s why sniff walks are crucial, both for their physical and mental health.

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What Makes For The Ideal Sniff Walk?

golden retriever sniffing around while walkinggolden retriever sniffing around while walking

It doesn’t take much, just make sure you have enough spare time for your dog to get all his sniffing done.

Other than that, you’re going to want to let him sniff at every stop to his heart’s content and to let him lead the way to where he wants to go.

All you need to do is keep him safe from any potential dangers like not letting him run into traffic or bother other people.

An extra thing that you can do is opt for a harness instead of a collar to attach your leash to.

He won’t feel as constrained and it’ll be easier for him to let loose when he doesn’t feel the pressure around his neck.

What’s The Benefit Of A Sniff-Walk As Opposed To A Regular One?

dog sniffing grass in the parkdog sniffing grass in the park

Simple, the dogs get to feel more autonomous, more in control of their own day and overall actions.

It won’t just make them feel more optimistic, as stated before, but will help relieve any potential anxiety that may form from too much time indoors.

Also, the goal of it isn’t to just let your dog do his #1s and #2s, but to allow him to flex his legs and explore rather than be taken down the same exact route every time.

They also tend to move at a steadier pace, they’re more relaxed than regular walkies, allowing both you and your dog to chill and get in the zone.

In Conclusion

While I know that your dog constantly breaking the pace of the walk to stop and sniff up every other tree may feel annoying, it’s a therapeutic experience for him.

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It allows him to get in touch with other dogs in a way that only dogs know how, through the sense of smell, be it picking one up or leaving one behind.

It’s a brief period of time in the day where he gets to feel in charge which can help bolster his confidence and overall optimism.

Let him have half an hour to an hour of him-time and you’ll see just how much better behaved and friendly he’ll be back home..

Allow him to take the lead and follow along. Try and take it slow yourself too.

Who knows, you may find that it’ll end up being a positive and relaxing experience for you as well and it can become an excellent way for you to de-stress.

Until next time, pet parents.

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[1] Agata K.-K., Martyna W., Mikołaj Z., Julia M., Katarzyna B., Michał D. (August, 2021.), Canine Olfaction: Physiology, Behavior, and Possibilities for Practical Applications, DOI

[2] C.Duranton, A. Horowitz, (December, 2018.), Let me sniff! Nosework induces positive judgment bias in pet dogs, DOI

By Andy Marcus

Hello, my name is Andy Marcus, and I am a passionate dog lover and enthusiast. For me, there is nothing quite like the joy and love that a furry friend can bring into our lives. I have spent years studying and learning about dogs, and have made it my mission to share my knowledge and expertise with others through my website. Through my website, I aim to provide comprehensive information and resources for dog owners and enthusiasts. Whether it's training tips, health and nutrition advice, or insights into dog behavior, I strive to create a platform that is accessible and useful to everyone who loves dogs.

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