If you have been a dog parent for any length of time, you’ve probably experienced a mishap with your dog’s sense of smell. Dogs love things that smell, and they especially love things that smell unpleasant to their human parents. And when they find something that they really, really want to smell, they will stop, drop and roll in the delicious scent. This usually takes the form of a dead animal, manure or garbage, and it inevitably happens just after they’ve had a nice bath in a fragrant shampoo. So, why do dogs love smelly stuff?
Our domesticated pooches are descendants of wild dogs. Though they have become pets, some of their natural instincts remain with them. A major reason dogs love to find the most odorous things and then smother their fur with these noxious smells is to help them hide. One of our biggest NuVet fans, Kya, enjoys rolling in deer feces at home. Like her Siberian Husky ancestors, she uses this tactic to help mask her doggie scent and keep the local coyotes off her trail. Unlike her forefathers, however, Kya has human parents to protect her when she’s out in the big, scary backyard. If your dog is like Kya, he probably is attempting the same maneuver. While it’s frustrating, he really can’t help it; training is key to stopping this behavior.
Even the best-trained dogs generally can’t take a walk without stopping to sniff every blade of grass on the excursion. This stopping and starting can be frustrating for the human on the other end of the leash, but it serves a purpose for your fluffy friend. When your dog stops to smell every place that another dog has been, it serves as a sort of calling card. The different smells of urine and feces can tell your dog what kind of animal was there before, and whether it is friend or foe. And let’s face it, sometimes dogs just like to stop and smell the roses and everything else. So, while humans may think these smells are disgusting, our dogs aren’t just being cantankerous when they stop to smell defiled grass, or worse yet, lay down and roll around in it. Your pooch is on a mission.
Studies have shown that dogs can’t see as well as humans, but their sense of smell is highly sensitive. The military trusts the noses of dogs to sniff out bombs and keep our troops safe in combat environments. It is important to keep your dog in good health so his sense of smell stays sharp.