Although a dog’s brain is just one-tenth the size of a human brain, the part of the dog’s brain that is devoted to analyzing smells is forty times greater than that of a human's. A dog’s sense of smell is therefore estimated to be a hundred thousand times better than ours.
Dogs use their nose in all kinds of incredible ways. Although it may seem revolting to humans, dogs sniff each other’s anogenital area because this activity gives dogs a lot of information about who they are smelling. A dog can tell the age, sex, reproductive status, and health of the other dog just by smelling these areas.
Can dogs smell fear?
Human sweat carries odors that change depending on the concentration of hormones in the body. When a person is stressed or fearful, adrenaline is released into the bloodstream, which elevates the heart rate and sweat production. The stress chemicals released when a human is in a state of alarm, along with body tension and shallow breathing, is easily detected by a dog.
Smell and Emotions
In dogs, scent goes straight to the limbic system that regulates mood and drives emotions and memory. By using food when teaching, you can harness a dog’s powerful sense of smell to help her learn and achieve emotional stability—an important part of sensory education. Food is an important part of the learning process and can help nervous and anxious dogs overcome their fears.
Using other scents, such as synthetic dog-appeasing pheromone or lavender, helps lessen anxiety by promoting feelings of calm, while putting a shirt with your scent on it in your dog’s bed can help her cope during your absence.
Encouraging your dog to learn by using scent work to improve her mental and physical state is a way of utilizing sense of smell to encourage her to perform tasks that enrich her life, and help overcome any emotional issues she may have.
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Articles from Victoria Stilwell
- Why I’m Not a Purely Positive Dog Trainer
- Becoming a Dog Trainer
- Social Bullying
- Does Your Dog Respect You?
- Differences Between Male and Female Dogs