This is a deeper question than it first appears. Of course, with their super-sensitive snouts, dogs can smell farts (no matter from whom they originate from), but the brain-teaser is whether dogs are aware of a concept of 'self' and, therefore, if the fart belongs to them or not.
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Signs a Dog Smells Their Own Fart
If you were to watch a dog who has just smelt there own fart, you would see the dog sniff the air with flared nostrils. They may flehmen, which is to say that they peel back the upper lip so that scent particles can reach the vomeronasal organ. The latter is a set of chemoreceptors that are especially sensitive to odor particles and can give the dog a much more details scent picture of what the smell is, how fresh it is, and who it originated from.
Depending on the dog's diet and how bad the flatulence smells (highly fermentable diets contain a high percentage of cereals or soy produce worse smells and great volumes of odor), the dog may decide to leave the area for some fresh air. Some dogs will amble slowly away, almost as if they're not trying to draw attention to themselves, whilst others can run away as if assaulted. Indeed, the latter does reinforce the debate about whether the dog perceives the bad smell as 'self' or something from someone else.
- Jumping up
- Ears drop
- Remaining asleep
- Raising the upper lip
- Sniffing deeply
- Turning their head towards their back end
History of Dogs Smelling Their Own Farts
All dogs have a hugely sensitive sense of smell. In fact, the average dog's sense of smell is a million times more sensitive than a human's. It makes sense that for time immemorial dogs have been able to smell their own farts.
Indeed, some breeds will be even more acutely aware of the odor than others. Just how useful this is we can only wonder, but when dogs live with such smelly beings as people, with our perfumes, air fresheners, and tobacco smoke, smelling farts may not be their greatest problem.
Science of Dogs Smelling Their Own Farts
However, did the dog realize it was their odor or just something that mysteriously appeared in the air? This hinges on whether dogs have a perception of 'self' or not. Most behaviorists err towards the opinion that dogs lack a sense of self. They reached this conclusion after carefully devised experiments designed to highlight if any animal has self-awareness.
An example of such a test is showing the animal their reflection in the mirror. Most dogs react as if an unfamiliar dog is staring back at them. They may growl or play bow to invite a game, but generally, do not show self-examinatory behaviors such as people do when looking in the mirror. In short, most dogs do not register this is their reflection.
To take things a step further, scientists painted a red spot on the subject's forehead. Primates and dolphins, when regarding their reflection with a red mark on, try to touch or rub their own heads as if to confirm what they're seeing is correct. This shows a degree of self-awareness.
However, apply the same red dot to a dog's forehead and on seeing their reflection, they fail to investigate the mark. Hence, researchers conclude, dogs lack self-awareness.
Hence we may conclude that whilst a dog can physically smell the odor of their own fart, they remain blissfully ignorant that the smell came from them.
Training a Dog to Smell Their Own Farts
Reward-based training methods will get this effect. First, start by getting the dog to look up sharply. You can do this by making a sudden high-pitched noise. As the dog looks up, say, "Yes" in an excited voice and give them a treat. Repeat this a few times and when the dog is regularly responding by looking up, add a cue word such as "Fart."
Repeat this. When you can say the cue word and the dog looks up sharply, you have put this action on cue.
Now it's time to add in the walking away part. Once the dog looks up on cue, use a treat to lure them forward a few steps. Then say "yes", and give the treat. Keep repeating this, so that the dog adds the two actions (looking up and walking away) together for the one command "Fart."
How to React to a Dog Smelling Their Own Fart:
If your dog is regularly flatulent, then you need to reconsider their diet.
Check out their food and, if necessary, switch to one with less fermentable content, such as soy or pulses.
Look for a food where the majority of the protein is from animal, rather than plant, sources.