A Dog's Sense of Smell

Friday, December 13, 2019 12:30:00 PM America/Los_Angeles

We already know dogs are the best. They keep us safe, make us happy when we’re feeling blue, and love us constantly and unconditionally. But did you know how truly unique a dog’s sense of smell really is? Evolution has blessed canines with superior olfactory abilities. A dog’s nose has almost supernatural powers that can be used to help their man friends, find their way across large tracts of land, or identify unknown creatures. How do these amazing instruments work, and how can dog owners use that knowledge to train their furry friend to use an indoor dog potty?

The Science Behind Dogs' Sense of Smell

Dogs use their noses like we use our eyes. The information they receive through their noses helps their brain form a complete picture of the world around them. Compared to human nostrils, a dog’s nose contains up to 60 times more turbinates These cells are responsible for collecting information from the air.

How do you use your sense of smell? Most of us are able to sniff out the source of unpleasant smells or identify foods and plants scents. Depending on their breed, dogs gather up to 60 times more information from these things than you do. The canine brain devotes 40% more space to analyzing and storing data from smells. If he could talk, your dog might be able to tell you exactly how long that rotten egg was laying behind the stove or accurately identify the last thing you ate. A dog’s nose has a number of other unusual abilities.

  • Dog nose prints are as unique as a human’s fingerprints. Some dog owners are using nose prints as a way to identify their pets.
  • Independent muscles control each nostril. Your dog can wiggle one nostril without moving the other.
  • Dogs have slits on the sides of their nostrils. These allow them to inhale through the main nostril while exhaling through the sides.

The structure of dog noses supports a variety of abilities. These abilities make them excellent detectives. Dogs use their talented noses to help people sniff out harmful substances, dangerous criminals, and survivors of major catastrophes.

 Using Dogs' Sense of Smell for Potty Training

 Pup parents can use the power of dogs' sense of smell for housebreaking purposes. A dog’s delicate olfactory abilities make it easy to teach your dog where it’s okay to go and what areas are off-limits.

  • Place your pee pad alternative, such as Bark Potty, in the same spot every time. If you must move their location, do it incrementally. Shift the position of the dog potty a little each time or so until it reaches the spot you want it to inhabit. This will leave a trail of scent that your dog can follow if they become confused or forget the new location of their pet potty.
  • If your pooch chooses an inappropriate spot to do their business, use unpleasant scents to drive them away from the area. Sharp smells like citrus fruit, vinegar, spicy peppers, or ammonia overpower the dog’s nose and will force them to find a less fragrant place. Use a diffuser or add a few drops of essential oil to your regular cleaning products or room spray. Choose scents that you actually enjoy for an extra bonus.
  • Some pups, especially rescue dogs or those that have been rehomed, have anxiety issues around toilet training. Make them feel comfortable in their potty space with familiar toys or even treats. The smells of these items will evoke happy feelings in the dog’s mind, making it more likely that they will go in the designated area.

These methods are especially useful for pet parents who rely on an indoor potty for dogs. Using dogs' sense of smell decreases the chance of accidents or defiant toileting behaviors.

Random Dog Nose Facts

  • Your dog probably thinks of you as a smell. Even with all the fragrances and cosmetics we use in our daily grooming, each person has a unique smell based on their body chemistry. Underneath your morning splash of aftershave and that new jasmine body wash is a smell that is unlike any other. Your dog’s brain can tune into that scent and follow it like a trail. That’s why your dog can sniff you out in a crowd or easily catch up if they get lost during a long hike.
  • Dogs may be able to smell our emotions. Strong emotions like fear, anger, and surprise cause physiological changes in our bodies. These changes produce hormones. As these hormones pass through our bloodstream, some of them are released through the skin. Dogs can detect the hormones you secrete. Their highly-developed olfactory-processing abilities may allow them to associate certain combinations of hormones with human behaviors like hitting, crying, or other emotional habits.
  • Your dog’s pee isn’t just a waste product. It’s also a way for them to communicate with their own kind. Dogs produce hormones that, when mixed with urine, allows communications to be left on any tree, fence post, or potty.
  • Dogs sniff longer and deeper when they find something they are interested in. An investigating dog can inhale over 5 times per second. This allows the dog to take in more information about the object’s origins, components, and purpose.
Best of all, dogs' sense of smell offers endless opportunities for fun games. Hide treats under furniture and watch your pooch have a ball finding them all. Take your dog to the park and introduce them to all the glorious smells of flowers, grasses, and small tree animals. Or simply allow your dog to lead with his nose during your next walk. Understanding a dog’s sense of smell can be the key to opening up new adventures with your pet.