The Sniffari – Why You Should Let Your Dog Sniff on Their Walks

sniffari - let your dog sniff on their walks

You know your dog loves going on a walk. And you love walking your pup, too! But have you ever wondered what they smell and why they sniff so much during a walk? In this article, we will discuss why sniffing is so important when it comes to walks. We’ll also talk about what dogs smell and how they interpret scents. In addition, you can find out ways on making the most of your dog’s walk by allowing them to stop for a few extra sniffs! 

What is a Sniffari? In general terms a sniffari is a where you take your dog on a walk and they can spend as much time sniffing around as they like. The walk may only be very short, but by letting your dog sniff everything they will burn as many calories as if they have been on a long walk and mentally will be very satisfied.

What’s so special about sniffing?

Dogs are known as “scent hounds” because they have a very powerful sense of smell. It’s estimated that their nose is up to 100,000 times more sensitive than ours. So naturally you can imagine all the things your dog smells on walks – from trees and grass to other dogs, cats, birds and people. This is why it’s so important to let your dog sniff on their walk.

Sniffing helps dogs learn about the world around them and keeps them mentally stimulated. It also helps them burn off extra energy when they’re out for a walk or run in an open space, which is great news if you have a hyperactive pup!

And don’t forget that all smells are not equal to your dog’s sensitive nose – they can differentiate between each scent. For example, there could be three different scents of trees nearby: pine, oak and cedar. Your dog knows how these trees smell individually rather than just one “tree” smell because they detect subtle nuances between the notes in each tree’s unique chemical composition.

What is a snuffle mat?
What is a snuffle mat?

What do dogs smell on walks?

Dogs use their other senses (hearing, sight, touch) to create an image of the world around them – but it’s mainly created through scent! They take in smells from everything they encounter such as trees, grasses…even another dog if your pup gets too close and has a sniff fest with whatever passed by. As you know only too well: not every sniff fest is friendly. So just keep that in mind when letting your pooch get up-close and personal with strangers during walk time. Your best bet for keeping everyone safe while out walking is making sure your dog sees the other dog before they sniff it so there won’t be any surprises.

I like to stick to the mantra of ‘sniff, sniff, go’. That way Dolly gets to have quick hello and then move on as she can suddenly lunge at the other dog, especially if it’s big and black (that’s another story).

How do dogs interpret smells? 

Dogs have a sense of smell that is far greater than ours, so they rely on it to navigate their world and understand what’s going on around them. Dogs can decipher different scents from each other even when mixed together! 

They use these scents to learn all about the environment. Your dog is sniffing all the little pees that previous dogs left behind too. That means your pup will know if an animal passed by recently (daytime), how old this scent is (how long ago did it happen?), whether it was male or female, why the pooch who left the scent behind was there at that moment etc… This gives your dog insight into their behaviour and mood. It’s the doggy equivalent of ’email’ or ‘pee-mail’ as I call it!

In addition, other dogs have a dominance hierarchy that is determined by scent marking left behind on objects or trails in their territory (the area in which they live and roam). So during a walk, your dog can determine who is the dominant dog by smelling their pee!

Dogs will sometimes smell the same thing over and over again on their walk, but that’s what makes it interesting for them. One of my little Pekingese dogs loves smelling tree bark, while the other one always finds something new to sniff out in the bushes. When they smell something new, they go crazy with excitement because there are so many things for them to explore.

Let Your Dog Sniff More During Walks

So why should you let your dog smell more on walks ? Well…letting your dog sniff takes away some of their pent-up energy and helps them relax, plus they get to explore and learn about their surroundings at the same time.

Sniffing is also a great way to socialise your pup with other dogs – but you must be careful, as not all sniffing interactions are friendly! Always keep an eye on what’s going down between your dog and any other dog that they sniff. You don’t want them fighting or playing too roughly so if it seems like there will be trouble ahead, call them back right away before things escalate.

Never let your dog run up to another dog. Many dogs are anxious and do not like strange dogs approaching. Even if you think your dog is friendly, put your dog back on the leash when you see another dog. If you see a dog wearing yellow, then do not approach them at all and give them plenty of space. Yellow is the colour adopted by anxious dog owners to let you know their dog has issues. Find out more about dogs wearing yellow on this website: My Anxious Dog.

The Benefits of Letting Dogs Smell When On A Walk

For dogs, smell is the most important sense they use to navigate their world – it’s like sight is for humans (except we can see farther). All of the information your pup gets from his nose has a lot to do with how they react to different things. Take sniff walks with your pooch more often – not just once or twice a day – and you’ll start to see a difference in their behaviour and overall wellbeing.

There are many benefits that come with letting your pup take more time smelling during their walk. For example, owners who allow their pups to spend ample time smelling while on walks often report having calmer animals upon returning home after work (although our best advice would be making sure they get lots of exercise before you leave for work). In addition, dogs who spend more time sniffing on walks are often less likely to bark or get into mischief at home.

Just remember not every environment will be suited for an extended period of smelling (such as extremely crowded areas where other dogs might be scared by a large smelly dog coming too close!). However, most pups enjoy spending extra time taking in new smells during their walk.

How To Go On A Sniffari Walk With Your Dog

We take our pooches out for walks and let them smell more often than usual (without interfering) around interesting smells they spot along their path such as grasses, trees, flowers…and even another dog.

1. Grab a bag of treats, your dog’s leash, and a map. 

2. Find the nearest park or trail that is safe for dogs to sniff around. 

3. Walk at least one mile in any direction with your pup. 

4. Give them plenty of opportunities to sniff out interesting scents along the way. 

5. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a detour off the beaten path.

What is a snuffle mat?

Safety Tips for the perfect sniff walk with your dog

Before you head out on your sniff walk, make sure to keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Keep your dog on the leash. ( Here’s my guide to loose leash walking.)
  2. Give other people and their dogs space.( Remember my ‘sniff, sniff, go’ mantra.)
  3. Stay aware of environmental risks in your area.
  4. Steer clear of wildlife and don’t let your dog sniff a dead animal…it could be carrying disease.
  5. Make sure your pet is protected against fleas, ticks, and other parasites with up-to-date vaccinations.
  6. Take your time. Remember that you’re there to enjoy the walk, so have fun!
  7. Do a post-sniffari body check of your dog for ticks, grass seeds and injuries.
sniffari why dogs should sniff on walks
Meeting livestock is a good experience to socialise your dog. Always keep your dog on the lead.

The Benefits of Scent Walks

After reading this article, you should know that letting your dog sniff on walks can help take away some of their pent-up energy and helps them relax. It’s also a great way to socialise with other dogs in the area so long as you keep an eye out for any potential trouble.

  • Dogs love it.
  • It’s good for their mental health and relieves boredom. 
  • Your dog will be more relaxed around other dogs.
  • Sniffing can make your dog feel better.
  • Sniffing can make your dog feel more tired.
  • Sniffing is an important part of doggy communication.
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