One activity that all Germans shepherds can do is go sniffing. While this might seem like a no brainer, it’s an often-overlooked outlet to burn off mental and physical energy.
If you’ve spent any time around German shepherds, you know they love to sniff and excel at scent work. While all dogs can detect scents 10,000 to 100,000 times better than humans, German shepherds are especially adept and that’s why they are used so often for scent detection jobs, such as drug and bomb detection, tracking, search and rescue, and much more.
Why Should You Let Your Dog Sniff?
Dogs have 300 million olfactory receptors in their nose compared to our measly 6 million. But their skill goes much deeper than just their sense of smell. Dogs are actually hardwired to enjoy detecting new smells. In their brain, they have something called a neophilia, which attracts them to new and interesting scents and odors.
In a 2008 study published in Animal Cognition, researchers discovered dogs preferred new scents and objects over familiar ones. Seventeen dogs were used and familiarized with two different objects. Each dog was then given their choice of 3 toys, including one they had never seen before. The unfamiliar toy was chosen first in 38 out of 50 tests.
if you want to improve your dog’s life, next time your dog is taking their time sniffing everything in sight, you might consider allowing them to literally stop and smell the roses. By doing so, you’re meeting an innate need that they have that is also very fulfilling.
Benefits of Allowing your Dog to Sniff
There are many reasons why you should allow your dog to sniff their surroundings while on walks and engage in scent detection games. Along with your dog really enjoying it, some more tangible benefits of allowing your dog to sniff include:
• Provides mental stimulation.
• Improves training and behavior.
• Enhances the benefits of physical exercise.
• Allows them to get to know their environment.
• Exploring with their nose is interesting and entertaining.
• Reduces stress and is calming.
• Improves wellbeing by allowing them to practice a natural behavior.
• Reduces cognitive decline by stimulating the brain.
• Allows them some freedom to explore their environment.
• Burns off excess energy.
• Enhances their life.
How to Keep Your Dog Happily Sniffing
Your dog longs to smell the world and has been born with the nose to do it. There are endless ways you can meet its need to discover new scents to help keep life exciting for them. Some ideas include:
• Rotate toys so they don’t become overly familiar.
• Put new scents on toys such as rolling them in grass, leaves, or adding a drop of dog friendly essential oil, such as lavender.
• Hiding toys and other objects and teaching your dog to find it.
• Hiding treats and teaching your dog to search for them.
• Hide objects in empty containers, such as a box, and allow your dog to find it.
• Place drops of essential oil on cotton balls and train your dog to find them.
• Borrow a toy from a friend with a dog and allow your dog to discover it.
• Go for a walk in a new place.
• Allow your dog leisure time to sniff while on outings.
• Hide toys outdoors and take your dog on a toy detecting walk, like an Easter egg hunt.
• Teach your dog to find an object hidden among other objects, such as toys.
• Play hide and seek with your dog.
• Buy or make some dog puzzles.
• Get involved in AKC Scent Work.
• Join the Barn Hunt Association.
No matter what scent games you choose to engage your dog in, one of the easiest is to get outside and go exploring. There is nothing to buy and the world provides the entertainment. Some common sense and caution must be used to keep your dog safe but there are endless places to explore, even if it’s just a new neighborhood or park.
Your dog will love being allowed the freedom to sniff and play scent games. By encouraging this behavior, you’ll improve your dog’s life, reduce stress and anxiety, and have more fun with your pet. It will also help calm your dog by burning off some excess energy while stimulating their mind.
So, next time you feel pressure because all your dog wants to do on their walk is sniff everything, allow time just for that. Make it a training opportunity by teaching them a sniff command. Your dog will have fun and return home a more content pup.
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