French Bulldog Breeder, Dr. Marika Zoll, Reflects on Dog Walking and Dogs Sense of Smell
Most people assume that the purpose of the dogs walk is to take a bathroom break or get a little exercise. But in fact the most important facets of the walk is about the stimulation of the dogs senses, his sense of smell, and the using of their brain when they detect the millions of smells and things on the ground that you nor I are ever aware of. I am a breeder and owner of French Bulldogs. I have 5 of them. I’ve talked before about the importance of exercise in an aging dog to stimulate the dog physically and that would be true, but certainly it is just as important to stimulate the central nervous system which is done so by smell for the dog. This is why I walk all of my dogs everyday, often twice a day.
I would imagine too that when my dog seems constantly hungry in the kitchen it might not necessarily mean that he’s always hungry but that he is just so stimulated from the smells in the kitchen that this is what brings him more to life than any other time.
Think of the human world and how we go out of our way to stimulate ourselves with smells via cooking or incense or perfumes or scented candles or air fresheners or cleaning products. Even our sense of smell is prevalent in our everyday activities. Now imagine that what we experience is amplified by 10 times because it has been studied and indicated that the dogs sense of smell is much more sensitive or stronger than ours. So if your dog is just lying around sleeping in his bed how does this stimulate him other than that he’s getting some rest. Typically the lack of activity can’t be a great thing if it’s too much and also what is he getting to smell there in his bed unless you start cooking something up in the kitchen. In the same way that bodies can be kept younger by exercise it could also be true that the brain remains sharper and younger when it is exercised and smelling things stimulates the senses which is stimulated by the brain so an older dog or any dog for that matter is having its brain stimulated when it gets to smell things.
A dog that isn’t feeling well when a piece of chicken is put to its nose will be nonreactive which is how you will know that your dog really is sick. Otherwise the dog in this deep slumber, whereby you put a little something smelly in front of its nose, that could even be an old bone, the dog will perk up its ears and stand up and come right back to life.
So the next time you’re feeling lazy and your dog hasn’t had a walk yet today think about how your day would’ve been if you’d had a stuffed up nose all day and the inability to smell any wonders of the world in just that one day alone and maybe that will be enough of a kick to your butt to put on your jacket and walk out the door.
A bonus point is you, yourself, can even muster up some exercise out of the whole deal. Don’t under estimate the importance of stimulating your own senses. When you are feeling groggy the next time, instead of thinking about a nap, grab a leash and take the dog out for a walk. Maybe this time think less about the dogs sniffer and more about walking faster. This will trigger endorphins in your own brain and be a better “pick me up” than any cup of coffee. I know the feelings. I also know how hard it is at this point to do the exercise. But maybe if you can use the dog as that extra thing that makes a difference in your choice, then go for it! You love the dog. The dog loves you. Go make some Art of the walk.
Author: Dr. Marika Zoll is a clinical psychologist and breeder of French Bulldogs. Her site is http://www.frenchbulldogsla.com. She practices alternative medicine healing along with traditional preventive medicine.