Your Dogs number one Sense-Olfactory Senses!
Ok, so we’ve discussed other senses the last few days and how they can affect our training. Now let’s talk about our number one sense. As a hound dog myself, I can tell you all the smells out there tell me so much about the world around me! It is once again our PRIMARY scent!
Think about it we sniff other dogs butts whenever we meet, even if we already know that dog. It tells us so much who the dog is, and where they’ve been- if they’ve been on our turf, etc. Are they healthy or not, you get the idea. If you humans used your olfactory senses like we do the world would be a different place!
Our sense of smell is so much more superior to that of you humans.
The Olfactory receptor cells are the main reason why dogs supersede the human sense of smell. This is first of all true because of the fact we have so many more than humans! Get this:
Humans have 5 MILLION
Whereas dogs have between 125 and 220 MILLION receptor cells!
And we must mention the cilia (those tiny hairs protruding out into the nasal cavity. Each cell is coated in mucous, together help to trap scent particles. Humans cells each have 6-8 cilia, whereas we have 100 to 150 cilia!
And finally the olfactory cells connect to nerve endings leading to the olfactory lobe, a structure in the brain. In humans it is the size of a pea. In us, this is the size of a walnut. So this obviously means much more brainpower is devoted to scent in dogs.
Humans can smell a scent within a room and eventually the smell will go away while it really is still around. Whereas dogs can smell the smell and the scent will be around for them for hours or days. We can also separate smells into components and choose one to concentrate on.
So what does it all mean for humans, how can we use this for training purposes?
To begin humans have used dogs to locate and hunt game. Although sighthounds use their eyes, most dogs use their noses. Police use canine to track down criminals as well as victims of disaster. Search and Rescue animals use their noses to search out and rescue individuals. They have drug sniffing dogs as well. Dogs also are used to find termites and other varmints.
Fun Game to play with your dog:
The shell game: Take a few cups or bowls and turn them upside down and place a treat under the cup or bowl and let your dog sniff it out. Reward your dog when he or she had found it. Before you hide the treat, let your dog see it and sniff it, then hide it without your dog seeing you do so, and then tell your dog to go find it!
When training your dog use sniffing as a reward for accomplishing other things. When your dog does something particularly well go and work on the track! Or take your dog for a walk and let your dog sniff- we call these sniff walks instead of just walks or runs!
DO NOT TRY TO DETER SUCH A NATURAL BEHAVIOR AS SNIFFING PLEASE!
Ok so the next time your dog goes to sniff another dog let them as long as there is no aggressive growls, barks, or lunging to attack involved of course. Because now we know that we can use this as their reward for doing something good.
Until tomorrow have a happy and healthy tail waggin’ day!