It’s here. Summer. My least favorite season. As a kid, I dreaded what lie ahead in this season… outdoor tennis camps, sticky beach vacations, and too many sunburns to count. It’s no surprise that I decided to switch to indoor activities in my adult life. There’s one thing though that can’t be avoided and that’s walking my dog.
The good news is, Rawlings doesn’t require multiple long walks a day, she’s pretty mellow. We usually can walk her three times per day for about 15 minutes each. It might not sound like a lot, but what we do on our walks is important; we let her sniff to her heart’s content.
A dog’s sense of smell
You’re probably aware that dogs have a much more advanced scent system than we do. Depending on the breed, their sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times more acute than ours. To put this into perspective, a dog could recognize a teaspoon of sugar in two Olympic sized pools. Hot damn.
Dogs have six times as many olfactory receptors as humans. Whereas we have six million, dogs have 200 million receptors. They also have a much larger portion of their brain devoted to smell than we do. Oh, and they have an organ called the Jacobson’s organ which serves as a secondary olfactory system. All this is to say, our canine friends can smell really, really well.
Why they smell
On a walk, dogs use smell to make sense of the world around them. You know how dogs smell one another’s butt? Well, they can tell what the other dog ate that day, their sex, if they were/are pregnant, the dog’s mood, and if the other dog is ill. Can you imagine learning all of that by smelling new people? What a world that would be.
When walking around the neighborhood, dogs use scent clues to piece together what’s happening. They can smell who has been where, what dogs are in the area, and all sorts of daily gossip. It’s like catching up on your favorite website each day. Commonly called “pee-mail,” dogs can communicate through smelling and leaving behind their own messages.
Take a scent walk
Usually, when we are told we need to walk our dog, we think we need to take them out to potty and exercise. While of course exercise is important, the mental stimulation a dog gets from sniffing is just as important if not more so than the physical aspect. It can tire out a dog more to go on a “smell walk” than a regular walk.
Smell walks are pretty much how they sound, you let your dog’s nose be the guide of the walk. They can choose the direction and route of the walk. They’ll wander from scent to scent tiring themselves out. It takes a lot of mental work for dogs to sort, process, and identify certain smells. It’s like us trying to solve a puzzle, it’s a mental workout that can be quite exhausting.
Dogs that are allowed to stop and smell the roses on walks are more likely to be mentally stimulated and less stressed. Allowing for scent walks can often help decrease unwanted behaviors.
How we walk
Rawlings is a Greyhound and as a former race dog, most people assume she is very active with lots of energy. Thankfully that couldn’t be further from the truth. So, luckily, she doesn’t need to go miles to be tired. She sleeps a good 22 hours per day.
We are sure to change up our walks with Rawlings though. When I have more time to let her wander, we go for a scent walk and I let her lead us where she wants to go. I can always tell when she wants to pick a new route. When I’m more strapped for time, we’ll set out on a more physical, fast-paced walk.
It’s really all about changing it up. And as it gets hotter, make sure you’re taking more short walks vs longer ones to avoid overheating. You can also make plenty of time for indoor enrichment activities!
Sasha – This stunning girl came to Anti-Cruelty Society after her owner passed away. She reportedly lived with children and gets along great with her current 25 lb foster sibling. She loves sniffing all the world has to offer so this post is perfect for any potential adopters out there!
This other sweet boy has since been adopted! Congrats buddy!