Guest blog by Laura Thorpe – Founder and Holistic Dog Groomer at The Soggy Doggie
Why we should let our dogs sniff!
You may be thinking, what on earth is a ‘Sniffari’? Why should it be a regular enriching activity for my dog? And how can I take my dog on one? First of all you won’t be passing any Lions, Leopards or Hyenas on your ‘Sniffari’, so you can wipe off that brow now!
The clue is in the name! A ‘Sniffari’ is different to any other outing with your dog because it is completely on their terms; where they go, what they do and how long they’d like to sniff and wander for. Life today can be so fast pasted, and finding time to disconnect from work, social media and even the housework can be a struggle. Going on a ‘Sniffari’ with your companion can give you that special time to bond, relax, enjoy the fresh air and observe your dog simply enjoying nature. There is no right or wrong way to a ‘Sniffari’, all you need is yourself and your companion, a long leash, some treats, poo bags, some water and that’s it!
‘Sniffaris’ are both mentally and physically stimulating for your dog and can improve their well-being, help them slow down and enter a state of calm. They can be great for every dog, especially geriatric dogs who struggle on longer walks or those with arthritis and joint issues. A 10 minute ‘sniffari’ can be just as rewarding as a 30 minute walk and can be far more beneficial to your dog!
“Allowing your companion time to sniff is very important as this is how our dogs catch up on the days news, or what I like to call ‘pee-mails’, think of it as when us humans check our social media, text messages or emails.”
You may even notice your companion eating the fresh spring grass, this is called ‘Zoopharmacognosy’, a natural behaviour our dogs do as a way of self medicating by self selecting plants, soil, insects and berries to help themselves feel better, prevent disease, aid digestion and even kill off parasites. Even as dogs sniff flowers and plants, this is a type of self selection as you may notice your dog prefers to smell certain flowers over others depending all on what they internally and emotionally need that day. Dogs can smell at least 10,000 times more than us humans and giving your dog time to sniff and giving them your full attention can make such a difference to your companions emotional and mental well-being.
As much as we want to provide an amount of choice and allow our dogs to express natural behaviours, we must also ensure their safety when out on a Sniffari walk. Some top tips for staying safe on your Sniffaris are firstly to give other guardians and their dogs space, observe environmental risks such as specific plants like ‘Fox Tails’ which can cause terrible health issues. Observe your environment for wildlife and be respectful towards other animals that are also enjoying nature, assess the weather that day and avoid going on a Sniffari in hot or extreme weather. Ensure you and your companion are protected from Fleas and Ticks! I like to use Vita Canis ‘Tick Off’ and ‘Insect Repellant’ sprays – Natural and Vegan! It is also important to do a pre and post Sniffari body check, this way you can be sure that your companion is in tip, top health.
Remember that it is okay to separate walks for different purposes, we take our companions out because they may need the toilet and for exercise. A fun way for your dog to understand when it is ‘Sniffari time’ could be as simple as wearing a certain jacket, using a particular collar or leash or even using a fun code word!
“Over time, your companion will associate those objects with ‘Sniffari time’. I find Sniffaris enjoyable in the evenings as it is a way for myself to calm down after a busy day and spend some time with my rescue Greyhound; Larry.”
To finish, ‘Sniffaris’ are a great enriching activity for your companion, it allows them to express natural behaviours and explore all the glorious scents of life! Why not switch off, get outside and treat your dog to a ‘Sniffari’, trust me, your companion will be truly thankful and you will too.
Hi, my name is Laura Thorpe and I am a Holistic Dog Groomer in Wigan, North West, I am currently working towards my certification with The Holistic Grooming Academy and will be working towards becoming Fear Free certified in the near future. I focus on the well-being of the dogs in my care and use a range of consent, force free positive based grooming and behaviour methods.