Let Them Sniff

“Let them sniff. Because we humans are so visually centered, it’s hard for us to imagine what it might be like for our primary sensory ability to be olfaction. But that’s how it is for dogs; they sniff first, and ask their eyes to confirm or deny. Their world is made of scents, more than sights. As a result, when they agreeably head out with you for a walk, the two of you are experiencing parallel universes: we see what’s on the street; the dog smells who’s passed by and who is upcoming (on the breeze). Since humans are generally averse to closely smelling things - in fact, we find the idea of ‘smelling’ one another funny or even rude - some owners discourage dogs from doing that - from sniffing one another or the traces of other dogs have left. But that is the dog’s whole world. I would not pull my dog away from a street corner he is mightily investigating than I would force my son to stare at his knees as we drive by the Colosseum. Acknowledging the dogs’ otherness - and in this case, their different way of perceiving the world you share - is a good step toward giving them the life they deserve.”



Alexandra Horowitz, PhD


Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know


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