I could spend hours watching animals, especially dogs, cats and birds. I’m fairly sure that it’s not just time-wasting 😉
Perhaps once or twice I may have been late to work/appointments/family events due to spending “just a few minutes longer” with the chickens bumbling around in their run, or the cats sunning themselves on our bed.
So walking two dogs has been a new way for me to lose track of time. We’ve always had just one dog, and they’re fascinating enough on their own to observe. But two dogs definitely adds to the interest. Sometimes both will sniff one area with great excitement, or one will but the other wanders away, bored. And sometimes one scent involves both dogs pushing and shoving to get near it.
My old dog would sniff certain areas with her tail wagging and her ears back, as if meeting an old friend. But other smells would elicit a stiff back, head low and tail held out, as if facing a strange or unwelcome dog.
I’m convinced they recognise the scents of different dogs, especially if they’re walked in similar locations over time, where the same dogs get walked daily. It makes sense – after all, they can recognise many thousands more smells than us. I like to imagine they get a quick visual flash of the dog in question and a rush of joy or displeasure, depending on the dog.
Some smells are of momentary interest, while others apparently require at least several minutes of prolonged sniffing, backwards and forwards, all around, away from the area, then back again, sometimes with a very intense, almost delicate investigation of one particular spot. I can only think that it’s a scent new to them, perhaps belonging to an animal they’ve never come across before.
And, as any dog owner can tell you, this scent usually needs to be investigated when you’re short on time, or right in front of somewhere or someone you really don’t want to be near right at that moment. If it’s the latter, the dog will be sure to defecate right then and there as well.
Apart from completely embarrassing their human companions, a dog’s sense of smell is so special that they’ve been put to great use, sniffing out game to hunt, illicit drugs, runaway criminals, missing people, dead bodies, explosives and electronics, truffles, and even cancer!
Their sense of smell is very important to them as well, so remember this when you don’t really feel like walking your dog(s) daily – it’s as much about the chance to exercise their minds and senses as it is their muscles, and they need this to keep them sane (and behaving!) 🙂