Drugs, Truffles, and Bums: The Science Behind Why Dogs Compulsively Sniff


Hey there, 

Doggy Dan here 🙂

Today I’m going to talk about your dog’s superpower…her sense of smell!

Did you know that dogs can smell 10,000 to 100,000 times better than we can?!

That’s truly amazing…

They pick up on so many things that our noses can’t even smell.

Which might be why your dog always has his nose to the ground on your daily walks! And tries to sniff every person or animal that comes into your house!

While it may be bothersome that your dog constantly sniffs your guests, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. What they smell reveals a lot about their surroundings. They can tell where they are based on how a place smells, while we rely on sight to tell us that.

And so many dogs have “working noses.” They are trained to use their nose for sniffing out drugs at the train station or bombs in airports or even missing people.

Do you ever wonder why dogs smell everything (and everyone)?
Let’s dive into the reason why your dog sniffs ALL THE TIME.

Your Dog’s Nose: Their Window To The World


When we’re trying to decide between two things, we humans typically use our vision to decide. We look at two pairs of shoes, for example, to figure out which pair we want to buy. 

A dog’s primary sense is their sense of smell. The scent of a person, animal, or object reveals a lot of information to a dog.

Just take a look at how dogs say hello to each other.

They smell each other (and their bums too)!

Everything that a dog understands about their surroundings is given to them from their snout. 

Through just a little sniff, dogs can tell if they’ve met that dog, or person, before, and where they’ve been, and they can even sniff out medical issues (we’ll get to that in a bit). 

Since they rely so heavily on smells, it’s no wonder that they’re compulsively smelling everything! 

And their anatomy reveals just how important the sense of smell is to a dog…

Dogs Are Just Wired for Smell


A dog’s genetic makeup and internal organs reveal just how much smell means to them.

They actually even have an organ that’s solely dedicated to helping them smell! 

It’s called the vomeronasal organ (or Jacobson’s organ), and it sits at the bottom of the nasal passage near the roof of the mouth. This organ has receptors that are used for detecting pheromones, which help dogs communicate with one another. 

Even their brain shows us how they process smells. A dog’s brain has a larger olfactory cortex than humans. In fact, it’s 40 times larger than ours! This helps them process and understand smells at a much better rate than people.

Can you really blame them for sniffing all your friends? They’re just doing what comes naturally to them.

A Dog’s Nose Can Do Amazing Things


Aside from just interpreting the world around them, many dogs are trained to use their nose for a specific purpose. 

Because their heightened sense of smell can do so much good!

A dog’s nose can help find missing children, sniff out drugs or bombs, and even hunt for truffles in the woods. 

Dogs can even sniff out medical conditions like low blood sugar (a critical lifeline for someone who has diabetes) and even cancer. 

It’s truly remarkable what dogs are able to smell!

And while dogs do practical things with their ability to pick up a scent, they also do weird things like sniff people’s bums.

How embarrassing is it when a guest enters your home and your dog immediately runs up to smell their rear end?!

While it might leave you apologising for your dog’s behaviour, your furry friend is gathering lots of information in that one simple act. 

By smelling a person’s bum, a dog can tell:

  • If they’ve met that person before
  • If they are male or female
  • Where they’ve recently been
  • Even what they might have eaten
  • And so much more!

So while you might find it a bit awkward, your dog is actually greeting your guest the best way he knows how!

This can become troublesome when your dog disregards your direction when they pick up an interesting scent.

What to Do When Your Dog Ignores You To Follow Their Nose


While it’s important to let your dog investigate using his sense of smell (which fulfills his natural instinct to sniff), it can become an issue when your dog compulsively follows his nose instead of listening to you. 

If you find your dog running away from you to investigate a smell at the dog park or spending a little too much time sniffing your friends’ bums, a little training might go a long way!

I’m certainly not advocating that you prevent your dog from sniffing, but she should always look to you for guidance and follow your lead even if her nose is pulling her in a different direction. 

So how do you try to train a dog when he is overwhelmed with so many interesting scents?

The same way you train them when there are other distractions like squirrels or food nearby…

You need to speak his language and win your dog’s mind!

And you can do that with my Dog Calming Code™ program. This program focuses on building your relationship with your dog in a kind and gentle way. 

Once you learn to communicate in a way that they understand, you can train them to listen to you, no matter what is going on around them. 

So even if their nose is telling them to smell that person’s bum, they’ll look to you for direction. This is when you can invite them to sniff your guest’s hand instead of their rear to say hello.

It all stems from building a solid foundation with your dog first, and you can’t do that when she’s out of control and chasing whatever smell comes her way. You first need to get her to a calm state, which is what my Dog Calming Code™ teaches. 

The things a dog can understand and find using their nose is extraordinary. 

Learn how to train them without curbing their natural instinct to smell with a little help from the Dog Calming Code™.


Smell ya later 😆

~Doggy Dan

Doggy Dan

Doggy Dan is the founder of The Online Dog Trainer, a wildly successful online training program for dog owners. His goal is to continue to share his unique approach to dog training with like-minded people who wish to make a difference in the world of dogs. His training methods focus on creating and building the connection between dogs and dog owners, and are shared and used around the world.

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