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A Dog's Nose Knows

Posted by Kelly Jansens on

My dog, Bodie and I would walk our local park at least two to three times a day. When it was early in the morning and there were no other people or dogs out, I would let him run off leash. He would run full –tilt but always had time to stop and sniff. He seemed to go to the same “sniff” spots each time. Wondering if his buddies had been there, he smelled another animal or human sent.

Bodie has been gone now for three months. I still walk this path each morning. Yep, it was really tough, especially the first month after he had passed. I would cry my way through the “Bodie Loop,” as I refer to it. I bring this up, because I can still see him running and going to his “sniff” spots in my mind’s eye.

Also, when we walked, I noticed that were certain people in which passed us by that he would hold his nose high in the air and sniff. There was a person that approached us on our walk once and I could tell that Bodie was not fond of him. I could tell by his demeanor and how he steered clear of this person. I don’t know if it was the cigarette that the guy was smoking, hat and or beard that made him leery. Perhaps, he was trying to protect me? He smelled and sensed something.

Dogs hunt, protect and somewhat communicate with their noses. Look at how K9 unit dogs can track down a lost person or trail of a suspect. Therapy dogs can assist their humans. Dogs can also detect illness in people.

Bodie could always tell if there was another animal around me to. We went to a group each week that had a Husky dog. He ran up and sniffed and smelled her sent on us. It may even be a way that he could tell time, as it was almost a weekly occurrence.



A dog’s sense of smell is approximately one million times more sensitive than ours. Our dogs probably experience us as a composite smell “picture” as unique and complex as our visual likeness. Subtle changes in a person’s scent are obvious to your pet, just as you might notice a person has lost some weight or got a new haircut.

This may be one way that dogs detect illness. When you are sick, your metabolism changes and different chemicals appear in your breath. A dog can sense this. Changes in breath chemicals may be one way that seizure-alert dogs recognize that a person is about to have a seizure.

It’s sometimes said that “dogs can smell fear,” and this is probably true. When you’re anxious, you start to perspire lightly. It may not be visible, and you can’t smell it, but a dog can. Kelly Whitney, a veterinary technician from North Attleboro, MA, describes what happened when she and her black lab encountered a stranger emerging from the woods one summer evening. “My dog is usually so friendly and loves everyone. But she clearly didn’t like that man. He seemed friendly enough. But as he approached, the dog bared her teeth and gave a low growl. He backed off and went the other way. I was pretty relieved.” Kelly’s dog must have sensed her anxiety even though no words were exchanged. Was it something in her scent that the dog detected?  ~Dog



Regarding Dog’s smelling fear…I had a dog once that was a fear bitter. He was extremely protective over his family. When we went on walks around the neighborhood and passed a person on the road, he would let out a growl. We learned quickly how to read him and I am sure he could read our fear as the person approached us on the walk. My thoughts were…”ohh, no…keep calm and under control. Don’t let this person pet him, etc.” This sense of fear escalated with him/us and I ended up taking him to a dog behavior specialist. She taught us many things about having such a dog. She also said that dog’s can sense some of our feelings and that projects on how the dog acts some times.

Have you ever been upset or sad around your dog and they try to comfort you? Some of my last pictures in my mind of Bodie was a couple weeks before he passed. We just got him home from his last chiropractor’s appointment. I wanted to make sure he didn’t jump on the couch, as he always liked to, so I put the couch cushions up saw that his stuffed bear was on the ground. For some reason, I placed the stuffed bear between the cushions. At this point in the game, I thought he was suffering from arthritis and I was stressed trying to make his world better. I think that the chiropractor released some stress in his body and for a couple hours after we got back home from our appointment he moved around a bit and could still walk. He seemed to feel good that night. I turned around to see that he picked up his stuffed bear and then walked over to me and gave me his stuffed bear. It makes me tear up, because this was his favorite toy and I feel like he gave it to me because he wanted to cheer me up. This was truly the last night that he picked up any of his toys before he passed.

At any rate, a Dog’s Nose KNOWS.

Love, Peace and Wags


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