Updated: Feb 8
Your dog nose .......and they can teach you through scent work.
They are sniffing all the time anyway, scent work makes you a team, decreases mischief, builds confidence and can even be competitive. In summary it makes your dog happy.
What professional dogs can do - celeb dog sniffers if you will
With training dogs can sniff out loads of different chemicals - drugs, pursue suspects, ID suspects, even find missing people. They can even detect diseases- Covid, diabetes to maleria and even stress hormones for PTSD assistance dogs. We teach pet dogs like yours to find rubber the size of a piece of rice or novel objects that smell like catnip.
Pet dogs -We've taught dogs to indicate fox poo to prevent them rolling, find antlers in the forest or truffles and to recall on the smell of a squirrel. In class weve taught dogs to search for scented articles to solve murder misery style fun classes, vehicle searches
The dog’s olfactory (sniffing) system is more sensitive than anything we can replicate with modern technology! Mind Blown.
Lets add a little more geekie ness to this :-
Dogs noses are vastly superior to our own, being between 10,000 to 100,000 times more acute than ours. For every scent receptor a human has, a dog has about 50. And the part of a dog's brain that is devoted to analyzing smells is about 40 times greater than ours. Some dogs can smell a single drop of liquid in 2 Olympic-size swimming pools (Horowitz). I cant even tell which tea I've sugared and have to taste it to check. The Olfactory bulb accounts for one eighth of the dog’s brain.
"There's the black lab stray from the streets of Seattle that can detect floating orca scat from up to a mile away across the choppy waters of Puget Sound"
New smelly things win
Dogs also have a trait called neophilia, which means they are attracted to new and interesting odors. New smelly things win (sound familiar) - we can struggle with this ever day. Scent work is a structured activity to get your dog an outlet for this need. An enjoyable way to use their nose rather than ignore recalls and pull on the lead.
Scentwork is a natural behaviour for a dog and essential in hunting and finding prey - all dogs can partake. Next time your out with your dog watch them scent. Dogs can wiggle their nose - allowing them to tell the direction of the smell by informing them which nostril the sniff arrived in. We breath and smell out of the same airway - pushing the smell back out. Dogs have slits the air is directed through and air swirls out via this second route. This helps them absorb new odors into their nose. Importantly they can sniff nearly continuously. We smell an odor and it fades quickly - dogs noses dont switch off. They sniff when they are sleeping too - Deri always smell the biscuit jar opening.
If your dog zig and zags across the field - they are reading their emails, watching the news and catching up on their social medias all at the same time.
Tracking dogs can tell the direction of travel, as the most recent tracks smell different to older steps.
Search dogs can be seen sniffing in a continuous stream of air for up to 40 seconds, spanning at least 30 respiratory cycles - this is exhausting. A tired dog is a happy dog.
Another reason dogs can be distracted is other dogs - they have a specific organ and commuter system to check on the status of others - gender, health, mood, diet, age etc Thats a huge amount of interesting info. Other odors dont get mixed up with these chemical messages as they go to a separate area of the brain. If this is in action and your not part of the conversation then your dog wont be able to hear you. Training scent work adds you to the conversation - helpful for training other skills.
Scentwork is when a dog uses its sense of smell to identify and locate a scent which it has been trained to detect. Its so much more than this. Il continue.
Dogs' noses also function quite differently than our own. When we inhale, we smell and breathe through the same airways within our nose - forcing out any incoming odors . When dogs inhale, a fold of tissue just inside their nostril helps to separate these two functions - to breath and smell. When dogs exhale, the spent air exits through the slits in the sides of their noses processing all the smells. 12% of air is only ever smelt and never reaches the lungs- its solely to gain info about their surroundings.
Similar to us odors elicit emotional responses - confession I love the smell of pet shops, coffee and rosemary. A simple scent can host complex meanings, memories and emotional links. This can be more true for our dogs. Odor memories are more likely to be single learned events - memories that last a lifetime. In our behaviour work we can use scent work to condition positive emotions reducing fear and phobias. This is why I love nose work.
The club your dog wants to join - scent club
In scent club we teach dogs and owner teams to utilize this natural ability. There are two different types active and passive searchers. Active where your dog identifies a hidden item and brings it back to you without your guidance. And passive where your dog identifies and indicate an odor by freezing - like police dogs indicating a bomb (in our case tiny pieces of kong, no bombs).
We operate a blended online and in person class (when restrictions allow) teaching skills at home and having monthly meets - searching woodlands, car searches, sports grounds and many more real life scenarios. All the benefits of in person and online lessons.
Its ideal for all dogs - but have seen great benefit for older dogs, young pups, adolescent dogs, reactive dogs, clingy dogs or dogs with OCD tenancies (as I said it suits all dogs).
email us to see when we next enroll - firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember whilst we SEE the world, our dogs SMELL it.
If you have enjoyed scent work with your dog share your experiences in the comments