Do you know the amazing benefits you can provide for your dog just by tapping into its nose?
What do dog noses have that humans don't?
Dogs possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to about six million in us. And the part of a dog's brain that is devoted to analysing smells is about 40 times greater than ours. Dogs also have something called neophilia, which means they are attracted to new and interesting odours.
Dogs possess a sense of smell many times more sensitive than even the most advanced man-made instrument. Powerful enough to detect substances at concentrations of one part per trillion—a single drop of liquid in 20 Olympic-size swimming pools.
With training, dogs can sniff out bombs and drugs, pursue suspects, and find dead bodies. And more and more, they’re being used experimentally to detect human disease—cancer, diabetes, tuberculosis, and now, malaria—from smell alone.
1. A dog’s nose has two functions—smelling and breathing.
A canine’s nose has the ability to separate air. A portion goes directly to the olfactory sensing area (which distinguishes scents), while the other portion is dedicated to breathing.
2. Dogs have the ability to breathe in and out at the same time.
“When sniffing, dogs’ noses are designed so that air can move in and out at the same time, creating a continuous circulation of air, unlike humans who have to either breathe in or out only.”
3. Dogs have a special organ that gives them a “second” sense of smell.
A dog’s vomeronasal organ helps them detect pheromones, which are chemicals that animals release that affect other members of the same species. This organ plays an important role in reproduction and other aspects of canine physiology and behaviour.
4. Dogs smell in 3-D.
Dogs can smell separately with each nostril. Just as our eyes compile two slightly different views of the world, and our brain combines them to form a 3-D picture, a dog’s brain uses the different odour profiles from each nostril to determine exactly where smelly objects are located.
5. Dogs can smell the passage of time.
Dogs can detect the tiny reductions in the concentrations of odour molecules that occur over short periods of time. This allows tracking dogs to quickly determine which direction a person or animal has gone in by sniffing the ground.
6. Dogs' noses have evolved to help them survive.
According to Dr. David C. Dorman, DVM, PhD, DABVT, DABT, professor of toxicology at North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine, dogs have used their noses to assist with major life events since the beginning of time.
“Evolutionarily, a dog’s sense of smell helps them find a mate, offspring, and food, and avoid predators,” he says.
7. Dogs can smell up to 100,000 times better than humans.
Dr. Nappier puts this titbit into perspective with an awe-inspiring analogy. “A dog's sense of smell is its most powerful sense,” he says. “It is so sensitive that [dogs can] detect the equivalent of a 1/2 a teaspoon of sugar in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.”
8. Some breeds have a better sense of smell than others.
Some dogs, like Pugs, that have short faces (also known as brachycephalic dogs), may have some airway compromise that could affect their sense of smell.
9. Putting your dog's nose to work increases your dog's optimism!
According to a study, allowing dogs to spend more time using their noses through fun nosework activities makes them more optimistic. By allowing dogs more "foraging" time, their welfare is therefore improved.
10. Dogs detect individual scents.
Dogs can distinguish the scent of individuals, both dogs and people. They can tell the difference between individual family members, even identical twins, purely by smell. Dogs can tell from sniffing a tree or lamppost when a dog has passed, who it is and what status they have – male/female. The can be trained to detect individual scents and compete in competitions. I have a strong interest in scent training, so let me know if you're interested in learning more.
11. Dogs may be able to tell the passage of time with their noses.
Alexandra Horowitz in the fabulous book: Being a Dog, Following the Dog Into a World of Smell claims, "As each day wears a new smell, its hours mark changes
in odours that your dog can notice. Dogs smell time. The past is underfoot; the odours of yesterday have come to rest on the ground."
It is, therefore, possible that dogs may predict their owner's arrival from a long day at work from how long the owner's scent concentration lingers since he leaves the house. Researchers suggest that after dog owners leave the house, their smell lingers for some time. There's a possibility that the scent decays slowly over the day, and around a certain time, dogs associate a specific amount of scent with when the owner should be unlocking the door.
12. A puppy's nose can interfere with potty training.
If you fail to clean up properly soiled areas using the right products, this may come back and bite you. Patricia McConnell in her book "Way to go! How to housetrain a dog of any age " claims: Any scent left behind says: "this is your bathroom" just as those universal bathroom signs found scattered around in any public place. Make sure to use an enzyme-base cleaner to clean up your puppy's accidents to prevent this "bathroom sign" effect!
13. Dogs have slits at the side of their noses for a reason.
While the interior part of the dog's nostrils is meant to take in air, the exterior slits found on both sides of the dog's nostrils allow air to escape every time the dog exhales. The exhaled air flows out of those slits creating a swirl of air which lifts more particles of odour off the sniffed surfaces allowing them to be suctioned for further investigation.
14. Dogs may use sniffing as a calming signal.
The term "calming signal" was coined by Norwegian dog trainer Turid Rugaas to describe special signals dogs use to communicate with each other. Sniffing the ground is one of them. It is often seen when dogs see another dog approaching and want to signal no threat.
And this is just the start of the amazingness of a dogs nose!
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