A dog’s nose is more complicated than we, humans, can comprehend. In the book ‘Unleashing Your Dog: A Field Guide to Giving Your Canine Companion the Best Life Possible’ by Dr. Jessica Pierce and Dr. Mark Bekoff, they discuss pooches’ all five senses and how humans can do to help the animals maximize their sensors.
For dogs, one thing we should remember is that their approach to life can be summed up as “sniff first, ask questions later.” 33 percent of the time, dogs have their noses pinned to the ground, or even in body parts that people think are disgusting and inappropriate – take for example, groins and butts.
In an article for Psychology Today, Dr. Bekoff wrote that it’s easier for dogs to detect odors when it’s wet due to glands that produce an oily fluid. When dogs sniff, the air makes its way to anside route and enters the olfactory recess, located farthest bck in the nostril, and contains genes for olfactory receptors, which then absorbs odorants. Once the odorants passed the olfactory receptors, they are transformed into an electrical signal that travels to the olfactory center of the brain where the information is interpreted.
A dog’ nose is 100,000 to 1 million times more sensitive than that of human’s (imagine bloodhounds are 10 to 100 million times more sensitive!). Also, a dog’s part of the brain that processes smells is seven times larger than humans.
Dogs have a wing-like flap in each of their nostrils which help determine the direction of the airstream in and out of their noses. The air they exhaled flows backward and away from the odor being sniffed, preventing both odors from mixing.
When dogs sniff unfamiliar smells to them that were not dangerous, they use their right nostril first then switched to the left nostril to sniff at the odors again. When they become familiar with the odors, the left side of their brains would take over. This means that the left and right side of their brains take in different kinds of information from the odot they smell. Right side of the brain is associated with intense feelings, such as aggression, flight behavior and fear.
Here are a few things that Dr. Bekoff also includes in his article, reminding humans on how to help their dogs have the best life possible by sniffing to their noses’ content.
1. A dog’s walk is for them to unleash their nose and let them sniff and snort to their nostrils’ content
“Surely, when dogs have rushed along, they don’t get to savor and properly assess and process various odors, and who knows what this does to them. This form of sensory deprivation might be devastating since they lose detailed information about their social and nonsocial worlds. When we’re absorbed in an activity, we don’t like being rushed along before we’re finished savoring whatever there is to enjoy,” wrote Dr. Bekoff.
2. A dog’s legendary nose is a work of art and they need to use it
Dr. Bekoff said that like any of a dog’s sense organs, like thebheart, muscles and lungs, all of them needs to be exercised once in a while.
“It’s really not that difficult to allow dogs to be dogs and when they’re able to exercise their senses we can learn a lot about what they want and need. By becoming fluent in dog it not only improves their lives but also can improve the social bonds we form with them, relationships that require mutual and reciprocal respect and tolerance; a win-win for all,” he said.