the power is immense! a small body part, granted, but a dog’s nose has such talent – more than we could ever dream of having. in constant motion, the nose of a dog has 300 million olfactory receptors allowing it to smell 10,000 – 100,000 times better than us mere mortals. it can smell the past, present and future, find lost items (and people) over vast distances and save lives. and it’s just a nose!
so what does this mean for those of us who share a home with a dog’s nose?
they know your specific smell
that’s right – you are one stinky person. and just like a fingerprint, your specific smell is a unique identifier. having nothing to do with your choice of perfume, deodorant or detergent, your body secretes it’s own odor that your dog knows is completely you. in fact, to your dog, you’re pretty much just one big smell.
from one of our favorite books, Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horowitz –
“Humans stink. The human armpit is one of the most profound source of odor produced by any animal; our breath is a confusing melody os smells; our genitals reek. The organ that covers our body – our skin – is itself covered in sweat and sebaceous glands, which are regularly churning out fluid and oils holding our particular brand of scent.”
they can smell emotions
maybe. the jury’s still out on this one, but some scientific research indicates that dogs can identify the scents of adrenaline and cortisol that are triggered by our fight or flight response. as strong emotions overwhelm you, your heart rate increases, your blood rushes and all the chemicals that go along with stress, anxiety and fear rise more quickly to the skin’s surface. this may be why your dog always knows when to stand a little closer and stay a little longer.
they can smell illness
cancer, epilepsy, narcolepsy, migraines and diabetes, dogs’ keen sense of smell has saved many lives due to their ability to detect variations in hormone and chemical levels in the human body. the stories are endless and are proven out by study after study: dogs can detect cancer with up to 95% accuracy, can alert their owners when a seizure or migraine is about to strike and can detect even small decreases in blood sugar levels.
they can smell when you are almost home
your dog can smell you coming. because dogs use their nose to smell what is coming towards them on a breeze, they can tell who they will meet, what adventures lie just up ahead and who’s already been there. Again from Inside of a Dog: “Their perception of time includes not just the scene currently happening, but also a snatch of the just-happened and the up-ahead. The present has a shadow of the past and a ring of the future about it.”
they are comforted by your smell
your distinct scent smells like love. it is home to them and a comfort to them when they are alone, scared, anxious or just ready to rest. no wonder they will choose to nap on a pile of laundry rather than their own bed! see how creating a bed stuffed with your clothes can be the perfect resting place for your dog. it’s all about the nose!