The whole concept of ‘going for a walk’ automatically conjures up images of travelling, covering large distances, getting an ache in your legs.
But is this really what gets your dog excited?
In some cases, yes, it is… but in most, the dog doesn’t actually look to cover that much ground. To the dog, it’s a matter of quality over quantity.
So, how can we make our walks more suited to our dogs?
The answer is simple: SNIFFING!
The dog’s most powerful sense is its sense of smell. In terms of physiology, they have 50 times as many smell receptors as we do, with a similarly enlarged part of the brain to process these! If we apply that to more tangible things, an average dog can detect as little as a teaspoon of sugar in two whole Olympic-sized swimming pools combined. To really hammer the point home, if we saw this same difference in terms of vision, a dog would be able to see something that we can see at 1/3 of a mile away at a whopping 3,000 miles away!
So, we have to ask ourselves, why did the dog evolve to have such a strong sniffer?
It all fits in with how any senses came to evolve: survival. The prehistoric ancestors of our furry best friends developed their sense of smell to better hunt down prey, ensuring they could eat dinner. This means that sniffing is a natural behaviour – something that dogs do instinctively and are highly motivated to do.
But sniffing doesn’t just tell them where potential prey is (read: ‘where the rabbits and squirrels are!’). Sniffing tells dogs all sorts of information, such who passed through that area, how long ago, and what they were feeling at that time.
When it comes down to it, in order to really see the world around them, dogs need to smell the world around them.
So next time you take your dog for their routine walk, why not let them dawdle? Let them sniff. You may not get as many steps in, but your dog will happier for it.
Author: Alyssa Ralph, Your Dog’s Club Guru