Now that cooler temperatures are here, I love going for a brisk walk to enjoy the sights and sounds in my neighborhood. I want to share that experience with my dog as well. She gets so excited when I bring out her leash because she knows we are headed out for an adventure.
Racing to a standstill
As we take off down the street, I start moving at a good pace when suddenly she stops to sniff the shrubs we are passing. My cardio just came to a standstill as she takes in every conceivable bit of information she possibly can. My goal was to get in a mile or two of exercise with my girl. Hers was to keep up-to-date on all the goings on from the scents of people, other pets and critters that have traveled through our route.
A dog’s mental workout
I used to get frustrated when my dog would break my stride. I figured that she wanted to move as much as I did and when she would stop, I would find myself tugging on her leash saying, “let’s go!” She would get frustrated because she wasn’t able to do what she really wanted to do. What I came to know is that sniffing is my dog’s way of getting a mental workout.
Using their sense of smell
Humans and dogs have entirely different reasons for a walk. We walk for exercise, walk with friends and spend a lot of energy looking around at what is going on around us. Dogs walk with the intention of learning all they can about their environment using their sense of smell. Understanding this can make walk time with your pooch more enjoyable for both of you.
A dog’s sense of smell is her most powerful resource and primary mode of investigating and understanding her world. A dog’s nose can detect scents as much as 100,000 times more effectively than the human’s.
“The effort it takes for a dog to sort and identify individual elements of an odor requires a lot of work. It’s a little like us trying to solve a tough logic problem – the required mental energy is tiring. Mental exercise can keep your puppy from chewing your shoes and eager for entertainment and can help keep your older dog from experiencing cognitive decline as they age.”
—The Continental Kennel Club
A satisfying walk for your dog
Although a 15-minute walk may not tire your dog out physically, that same amount of time spent sniffing and processing scents will satisfy their need for mental enrichment. So, grab the leash and go for a good sniff!
Pat Blaney is the owner of Wagz ‘n Whiskerz Pet Sitting. Where there’s no place like home. We get it. Pets are family.