By the Editors of Exceptional Canine for Exceptional Canine
You’re an oncologist in the year 2050, ready to call on a critical tool to determine whether or not your patient has cancer.
Sure, you could subject the individual to a battery of invasive and expensive tests, but it might be simpler to call upon your hospital’s team of German Shepherds to help sniff out an answer. That’s right: Scientists expect that canines will someday be able to detect prostate cancer from smelling a urine sample.
In fact, dogs may already have the capacity; we humans have only to figure out how to get them to identify what it is that they smell. Such remarkable feats can be traced to receptors in your dog’s nose, which is between 10,000 and 100,000 times keener than your own.
This is why your pet knows when you’ve had a bad day at work. She can literally smell the bitter hormone secretions on your body -- and can smell that mustard you had on your cheeseburger for lunch. But that’s not all.
Scientists are discovering new ways to put dogs’ powers of odor detection to work, often in uses that benefit their human companions. For instance, dogs have been trained to detect when their human friends are about to lapse into a diabetic coma, as well as when a person with a fainting disorder is about to faint.
A Nose for News
Your dog uses her sense of smell to understand the world around her. That’s why she can’t stop sniffing. Your jog in the park with your dog presents dozens of points of information indicating the physical and emotional well-being of your dog’s doggie pals, as well as the people who live with them. It tells her what flowers are about to sprout --even the types of pests nibbling on their delicate stems.
Stop Inappropriate Dog-sniffing
Although such an organ is downright miraculous, there are times when you might want to keep your dog from sniffing. After all, many of us have suffered embarrassment when our dog sniffed another person a bit too, um, personally. Or we’ve experienced that inquisitive nose ourselves.
You can help channel your dog’s sniffing in positive ways. Try these alternatives:
1. Give your dog some exercise prior to any event so she’ll be tuckered out and her nose will be sated.
2. If you’re expecting to meet a new person or be in a situation in which your dog is inclined to sniff, offer a diversion in the form of a treat or a hand-clap, or rein in her leash.
3. Crate-train your dog so she’ll willingly stay out of the way during a social event. Learn how to crate-train here.
4. Hide kibble in food-containing toys around your house and have your dog sniff out her dinner.
5. Exceptional Canine’s resident trainer, Stacy Braslau-Schneck, recommends scattering your dog’s kibble in the backyard grass. Working to find the kibble exercises your dog’s nose, provides some physical exertion, and keeps your dog mentally engaged.
6. Take nose-friendly walks, allowing your dog to take a leisurely sniff around the neighborhood.
7. Offer new, interesting scents to help satiate that curious nose. If you’ve been to the beach or to a zoo, let your dog sniff your shoes or pant legs.
Your dog’s nose is an incredible tool, and you’ll likely find watching her use it just as interesting as she finds all the things she sniffs.