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Stop and smell the mailboxes - Dogs do talk on walks

Neko checks for pee-mail
Deb Monroe, CPDT-KA

It is freezing cold and the last thing you want is a mile long walk with Fido. You just want him to do his business so you can get back inside and defrost. He’s got different ideas and forges ahead moving methodically from mailbox to mailbox, snow bank to snow bank taking careful stock of who has visited that location last and leaving his own message of pee-mail. Your dog’s nose-brain connection is exponential compared to your own. As a matter of fact he “sees” smell as if it is a thing. You see a fire hydrant. Fido sees a pee-mail from Joe Boxer posted on the side of the hydrant and he just has to stop and read it.

Fun facts

  • Dogs sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times more acute than humans, depending on breed
  • Dogs have 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to about six million in humans
  • The dog's brain that is devoted to analyzing smells is 40 times greater than humans
  • When dogs inhale, airflow splits into two different flow paths, one for olfaction and one for respiration unlike humans that have only one path for inhalation and exhalation

Heel boy!

Everyone wants to be that owner/dog couple walking down the street leisurely together. No leash pulling, no straining – just a soft loop of a leash that droops between dog and owner. Taking in the sights and smells; stopping to chat with a neighbor or two, maybe stopping along the way to play a game of fetch. Sound idyllic doesn’t it? Even when it is sunny outside we don’t often take this kind of time to actually enjoy walks with our dogs using the time to nurture a connection between us. Too often we treat walking the dog as a task on our to-do list, not a point of leisure. By this we force our dogs to rush past these invisible points of connection between him and other pets in the neighborhood. We stress ourselves as we pull and prod out dogs to hurry up and move on. Our dogs lose out because their primary vision is scent and we have blinded them.

"Let's suppose they're just 10,000 times better. If you make the analogy to vision, what you and I can see at a third of a mile, a dog could see more than 3,000 miles away and still see as well." -James Walker, former director of the Sensory Research Institute at Florida State University

Get help and love to walk your dog again

If walking your dog is a test of your patience tap into the resources of the Pet Professional Guild. During your search for a professional positive reinforcement dog trainer in your area, look through the dog owner resources available on their website including videos, scholarly articles and suggested reading on many topics ranging from surviving puppyhood to dog learning theory.

The Pet Professional Guild is unique as it is the only professional pet industry member association that advocates for force-free dog training and pet care and requires that its members adhere to its “Guiding Principles” including that no shock, no pain, no choke, no fear, no physical force, no physical molding, no compulsion based methods are employed to train or care for a pet.

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