Originally published on ARLNow.com

How much do you rely on your sense of smell?

For humans smell is an important part of taste. It can also bring back memories from childhood or special events. It can even warn us of danger when we smell smoke or food that has gone bad. But our sense of smell is mostly a background sense, something that we notice once in a while.

It is estimated that a dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times more sensitive than that of a human. What does that mean for your dog? It may be that their sense of smell is actually more important than their ability to see.  Smell may be the main sense that your dog uses to make sense of the world. Check out this article for more information.

It makes sense then that it is a deep part of doggy nature to smell every gate post and telephone pole. It is highly recommended to let your dog sniff to his heart’s content on a walk. It’s good for him and uses an enormous amount of brain power. The area of a dog’s brain that is devoted to decoding smell is huge.

So how can we use this information to help our dogs? One way is to teach them to use their sense of smell. So many dogs need a way to get good mental and physical exercise and nose work may be the answer. Do you have a dog who “needs a job?” Teach him scent work.

Nose work class is a fun activity inspired by the scent detection tasks of police and military dogs. Classes can help shy dogs come out of their shell and help excitable dogs learn how to settle down to work. As your dog’s handler, you learn to read your dog’s signals and gain a new perspective into how they experience the world.

Any dog can benefit from nose work games. Dogs participating in scent games can be any age from puppy through senior, and any breed from working dog to lap dog. Dogs do not even need any obedience skills or previous training! The only requirement for class is that dogs are able to crate quietly (with owner present) while they wait their turn.

Ready to let your dog exercise his or her sniffing talent? Our next classes begin on Friday, February 19.