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3 Health Benefits of Sniffing for your Dog - Rafferty -

Sniffing is what dogs were designed to do.

Your dog’s nose is incredible! With 15 times more olfactory sensory receptors, dog noses are up to 100,000 times more sensitive than ours!

Dogs breathe in and out simultaneously, inhaling through the front of their nostrils, and expelling air through the sides. This creates a swirl of airflow around their nose that helps scents become even more concentrated. This is why dogs will often sniff the same spot for a long time. The more they sniff, the more intense the scent becomes!

TED-Ed has a great video detailing how dogs can “see” with their noses–even into the past.

Health Benefits of Sniffing for Dogs

Because their sense of smell is utterly complex, it’s easy to see why dogs are so obsessed with sniffing. But sniffing can provide lots of health benefits, too.

1. Sniffing helps dogs fight depression.

A 2019 study found that sniffing helps dogs feel more optimistic. Allowing your dog to use their nose can help him feel more confident and happier with his life!


2. Sniffing helps dogs drain energy.

Sniffing exercises the brain and can drain as much energy as a training session. So if you need to tire out your pup, a 20 minute meandering walk allowing her t0 smell all the smells may be even more effective than a 20 minute brisk walk.


3. Sniffing may help prevent heart disease.

Sniffing has also been shown to lower a dog’s pulse, even while they are actively walking. The lower your dog’s heart rate, the less stress is being put on the muscle. Sniffing can actually help improve your dog’s cardiovascular health!


Take Action

So what can you do to take advantage of all the benefits of sniffing?

Take some extra time on your walks and hikes to slow down and allow your dog to sniff as much as they want to. It’s an easy and free way to improve their health right away!

Obviously, new smells will be more interesting to your pup than the same old smells that are always in your yard or along your walking path. You can add new smells to your dog’s environment, or even take them to a completely different environment.


The easiest way to find new smells is to go for a walk or hike in a place your dog has never been. SniffSpot makes it easy to find new, private places to take your dog to play and sniff. Analogous to Airbnb, you can “rent” a host’s yard for a specified amount of time, usually by the hour. Some yards are fully fenced, some have pools or ponds for the dogs to swim in, and some even have activities and agility courses.

Find SniffSpots near you now, and get a $5 credit when you sign up!

Scent Work

You can make your own home or yard more interesting for your dog by introducing new smells for them to sniff. This nosework kit can help you do just that with full instructions for 3 different scent work games. This kit would be a fun way to bond and spend quality time with your dog!

If your dog really enjoys the nosework games, you can take scent work a step further. The American Kennel Club also offers scent work classes and competitions for all breeds of dogs. You can find a local scent work class here.


Sniffing and Your Dog

Do you take slow walks specifically to let your dog sniff? Have you ever done scent work with your pup? Leave a comment and let me know what activities you do to exercise your dog’s nose.

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