Do you ever wonder how your dog seems to know things that you don't? They can tell when someone is coming to the door before the doorbell rings. How does your dog know where the food is, even when it is behind a door? What is a dog's sense of smell actually like?
Dogs are such interesting animals and they have amazing ways of navigating their world. They are experts at predicting threats. How do they do that? Is a dog's sense of smell so good that they could even smell a mouse?
Signs of a Dog Smelling a Mouse
If you're wondering how strong a dog's sense of smell is, you can know that it is definitely the strongest of their five senses. Some people think that dogs have a sixth sense, but they actually have an amazing ability to smell finite things from far distances.You might associate mice with cats because their rivalry is widely known. However, dogs also have a connection to mice. In fact, many small dogs were originally bred to track down rodents around properties. Dogs use their powerful smelling abilities to detect when a mouse is near. When they detect that something is interesting, whether it is a predator or a dog park, you'll see them start sniffing excessively.
For example, you might notice that your dog gets especially riled up about squirrels or birds that scamper by outside. This reaction is typically one of barking, jumping up, pawing at the door, or trying to get your attention. If this is something your dog does, you can expect the same reaction when they are smelling a mouse.
They might run around in circles or even run behind you for protection. It all depends on your dog's breed and personality type. Some dogs are even specifically trained to smell certain things, including mice!
History of Dogs' Sense of Smell
The beginning of the beautiful friendship between human and dog began many, many years ago. As a matter of fact, dogs evolved from wolves. The process began over 15,000 years ago when wolf and man roamed the wide open independently of each other.
Something interesting happened, however. The humans would eat their food and then throw it behind them. The wolves found this food and collected the leftovers for themselves. Over time, the wolves were not so skittish and the humans also grew more comfortable.
Wolves would go closer and closer to the humans who were providing this source of food. In return, wolves helped protect the community from predators. Wolves and humans teamed up to get even better at hunting. Humans had the tools and wolves had the sense of smell.
As wolves evolved into dogs, they kept the qualities from wolves that helped them and they shed the qualities that did not benefit them. In order to best grow and learn, dogs grew to be very intuitive so that they could predict situations and be of more service to their humans.
One of the strongest skills that dogs developed was their very keen sense of smell. Dogs were bred to perform a number of specific tasks. Many of these tasks include things that require a great sense of smell. Dogs make excellent hunters because they use their sense of smell to track down prey. Even small dogs were originally bred to help track down small rodents around the property.
The Science Behind a Dog's Sense of Smell
Humans and dogs actually have noses with similar structures. However, dogs have a much larger area that picks up scents than humans do. In fact, dogs have at least 100 million olfactory receptors which help them pick up very subtle and specific scents. Humans have just 6 million olfactory receptors! So, dogs can definitely pick up on smells, or even traces of smells, very easily.
Dogs are so good at finding things because they are able to smell the trace of a smell for up to 24 hours after the object has left. This is why so many dogs make such good hunting and search workers.
Training a Dog to Smell a Mouse
Dogs are very smart animals. They can learn quickly and they are very observant. They are eager to put their minds to good use. It's the human's job to help them grow intellectually. When you train your dog, you are not only exercising their mind, you are also developing a stronger bond with them.
A positive training session goes a long way and when it is done regularly, it produces great results. You are sure to have a well-trained dog when you provide praise and not punishment. Using treats or praise as a motivator is a great place to start. You can also reward your dog for following your commands by treating them to their favorite activity such as fetch or tug-o-war.
It is very common to train dogs to find different things. This practice is called "tracking." You can train your dog to track with a few simple things. The first step in tracking is teaching your dog to fetch. You can do this by rewarding your dog with treats or praise each time they fetch the object you have thrown. Over time, your dog will grow to love a good game of fetch.
Fetch is a great way to warm up during any training session. You can also pick your dog's favorite game or activity to get them in good spirits for training. Choose the object you want to train your dog with. It should be something your dog is familiar with such as their favorite toy.
At first, you will place the toy where your dog can see it. Instruct your dog to wait, and then say "find it," or "seek," to indicate that your dog should get the toy now. When your dog has mastered that, you can move on to letting your dog sniff the toy and then hiding it close by where they can't see it. Over time, you can get more and more advanced with hiding the object and having your dog find it.
Written by a Corgi lover Simone DeAngelis
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 04/03/2018, edited: 04/06/2020