Sense of smell
How and what do dogs scent?
Smelling is the strongest and the most important of dog’s senses. Canines communicate and get information about the environment through smells. Some researchers even believe that while people “see” dreams, dogs smell them.
The rhinarium of a healthy dog is cold and moist. The moist works as a kind of “sticker” or “glue” that traps even the smallest particles of smell. Through nostrils they drift to nasal cavity and forward to the brains. The nasal cavity contains millions of cells that are specialized in processing information about smells. The part of the brains that process information is much bigger and more complex than one of a human.
Dogs scent is thousands of times more effective than one of a human, at least. Some people say that the number is one or maybe two thousands and the others talk about hundreds of thousands while some people assume that the dogs scent is hundreds of millions times as effective as humans. Comparing one attribute in two species is always difficult (possibly impossible), but scent being subjective experience makes things even more complicated. In addition, the dogs scent, is not a stable feature and one snout is never completely similar to another. Old age, diseases and drugs may weaken the dog’s ability to smell. Also fleas in snout may affect. The most important thing however is that the worlds of smells that human and dogs can sense are not alike. Unlike a human being, a dog can
1) detect very weak stimulus
2) detect and identify myriads of smells
3) remember and recognize myriads of different smells
Every dog owner should understand, that a dog experiences (read: smells) lots of things that we’re incapable to understand. For example, dog gets lots of information (gender, age…) about dog walking tens of meters before it only by smelling his pee or the air drifting between them. Everyone who ever has got frustrated by a dog that stops to smell ever single lamp and mail box should remember that the dog is trying to discern the world, not to tease his owner. This may (or may not) comfort those, whose dogs are completely house-trained, but do their business on the living-room carpet as the first thing when visiting. Instead of embarrassing his owner and ruining all the social relationships the dog is trying to get to know the new and possibly scary environment.