What Can Dogs Not Smell?

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Introduction

Dogs have all five senses, just like humans. Some people think dogs might have a sixth sense because they seem so intuitive. How can dogs detect so many things? How do dogs know when people are scared? Do they really have a sixth sense? 

Dogs use a very strong sense of smell to help them navigate their world. They have very strong noses. How much can dogs smell? Can they smell better than humans? If dogs can smell so much, is there anything they can't smell? What kinds of things do dogs smell? More importantly, what can dogs not smell? 

Signs of Dogs Smelling

There really isn't anything a dog can't smell! 

Dogs have an impeccable sense of smell. Some breeds can smell up to 100 million times more than humans. No matter the breed, dogs definitely have a very powerful sense of smell. You'll certainly notice that your dog is smelling something especially interesting when he becomes more alert. He may put his nose in the air in order to pick up more scents. This will guide your dog in making a decision about whether or not to pursue the scent or let it pass. 

If your dog smells something unusual and feels threatened, he may go hide in a safe place until he is sure the area is safe. Sometimes he may hide behind his owner and cower if he is feeling fearful. A dog can tell when people are scared because they can smell the production of sweat coming from the nervous person. Depending on a dog's breed and personality, he will react differently. Some dogs may not respond well and may become standoffish. Other dogs will comfort the scared person to assure them that all is well. 

Dogs are naturally great smellers. They can sometimes detect a change when a woman becomes pregnant, and they can pick out specific scents that may seem like just one scent to a human. For example, when a human smells stew, they just smell stew. But when a dog smells stew, he smells all of the individual scents in the stew.

Body Language

Signs that your dog is smelling something:
  • Staring
  • Alert
  • Whining
  • Pacing

Other Signs

These are some other signs you might notice if your dog is smelling something:
  • Walking in the Direction of the Scent
  • Heaving Sniffing

History of Dogs Smell

There really isn't anything a dog can't smell! 

The dogs we know and love today evolved over thousands and thousands of years. Originally, wolves and humans formed a bond. It was 15,000 years ago when wolves and humans began their friendship. Wolves helped humans hunt and they detected potential predators. In turn, humans gave the wolves their leftover food and provided protection against dangerous threats. Over the next thousands of years, wolves evolved into dogs. And eventually, we wound up with more dog breeds than we can count! Puppies warm our hearts with their four, furry paws and their sweet, puppy-dog eyes.

Wolves have a keen sense of smell. That's why they were so helpful to hunting humans. This sense of smell is something that was continually passed down to each generation of offspring. Dogs today have an excellent sense of smell, which is still helpful to humans in many ways. 

Science of Dogs Smelling

There is a lot going on when a dog is smelling specific things. While humans have about six million scent receptors in their nose, dogs have 220 million olfactory receptors. That's why dogs have such an intense sense of smell. They use their powerful sense of smell to help them get around. Dogs can smell for miles. They can even smell things that are buried up to 40 feet underground. 

Have you ever wondered why your dog has such a wet nose? That moisture is a huge help. It helps dogs pick up more scent particles, which helps them smell even better.

Training a Dog to Smell

Dogs have an incredibly powerful sense of smell that can be a huge support for humans. Dogs can be trained to smell specific things. The simplest way to train dogs to have a stronger sense of smell is by training them to "track," which means following a scent. Dogs are trained to do this slowly, but it can actually come quite naturally to some dog breeds because they have always used their sense of smell to help them find their way. 

You can even train your dog to tell you when you need to do laundry by teaching him the scent of a dirty t-shirt. If you are unsure of the state of your milk, you can train your dog to tell you when the milk is sour. If you have a baby and want your dog to make things a bit easier, you can train your dog to smell a dirty diaper! 

Training dogs in more complex ways takes careful and consistent work. These specially trained dogs are usually service dogs and provide so many services for people who need a little extra assistance. Service dogs are trained for a variety of tasks and many of them include the use of their sense of smell.  

K9 dogs help policemen get the bad guys by using their powerful sense of smell for good. They can be trained for many different tasks that help many people. They can detect dangerous threats, such as weapons, from great distances. They can also sniff for drugs and other paraphernalia in order to prevent the transportation of dangerous things. Other types of service dogs include those who can use their sense of smell to detect when an epileptic person is about to have a seizure. 

How to React When Your Dog Smells Something

  • Teach your dog one scent at a time.
  • Provide consistent training.
  • If your dog is following the right track, give praise.