Should I Let My Dog Sniff on Walks?

Big golden retriever dog nose

As a fellow lover of the sniff walks, I must say the answer to this inquiry seems rather apparent. But since you asked, perhaps I should clarify some things for you and break it down – human style. No problem. Let’s get it.

Should you let your dog sniff on walks?

Dogs have on average 200 million olfactory receptors (humans have 5 million) thus making smells as important to them as sight is to humans. A dogs ideologies regarding smells far transcends that of anything a human may perceive. Allowing your dog to sniff on walks is imperative to their mental stimulation and development.

Before we dive in to the wonderful world of all things smells, let me state the obvious – I’m a dog, not a medical sniffologist.

Disclaimer: The Can My Dog articles contain information based on the individual research and opinions of the author of the site – who just so happens to be a dog. How you utilize the information given is completely up to you. Proceed at your own risk.

My Dog is Slowing Our Walk Way Down

Oh. How sad.

Are we encroaching upon your TV streaming time? You’ve seen Lost straight through on 3 separate occasions. I think you can spare 45 minutes on a beautiful sniff walk with me.

But okay.

I get it, for I too am a sniffer of the proverbial roses and can get lost in a scent at any given moment. I understand that you two-legged creatures are in a constant hurry but I can’t for the life of me understand how that’s my fault or why I should be punished for your horribly lacking time management skills.

Dogs are emotional beings – its one of our superpowers. Read more in depth about our powers here to find out how fabulous we truly are.

I digress.

As I was saying, we feed off of emotion. If you continue to walk us with a hurried or rushed attitude, we’ll get stressed and anxious.

Nobody likes Jax, or Callie, or Stephen, or Tank, or Larry, or any other pup when they’re stressed or anxious. It’s not good for us or our human leaders.

You must understand that your dog’s walk time is the highlight of their day!

It’s a time for exercise, cognitive engagement, stress relief, and SMELLS! If you are in a rush, we don’t really care.

This is your dog’s time – not yours.

Jax’s Tips for People in a Rush

  • Chill out.
  • It can wait.
  • Go on a morning walk before things get hectic.
  • Go on an evening walk after things settle down.

We need this time with you and we need to sniff.

It’s in our DNA.

Remember the post you guys had me write entitled: Does My Dog Know I Love Him?

Well, this is one of those things. You want us to love you, right? Then TAKE US FOR WALKS AND STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT THE SNIFFS!

Okay, But Why Is My Dog Sniffing So Much?

Because it’s who we are, human.

Don’t believe me?

According to Purina – you know – the “Your Pet, Our Passion” people, “Dogs are born to sniff. The area of the canine brain that is devoted to analyzing scent is 40 times greater than that of the human and dogs can identify smells at least 1,000 times better than we can!” (Source)

In other words, walking with their noses leading the way is an innate behavior for your dog.

You see, when we breathe in, air passes through the skin cells on our nose. These skin cells are found in a special organ known as the vomeronasal organ.

Fun fact, only dogs and cats have this organ. This helps them to narrow in on the pheromones allowing them the ability to smell you before they see you.

Oh, another fun fact: Every single dog nose print is different – much like human finger prints.

Quite frankly I’m not sure how else to say it. Our sense of smell is the strongest sense that we possess. It allows us to explore, learn, experience, and navigate. This whole article could be reversed to read, “Should I Let My Human Watch TV in Order to See it?”

Comprendo yet, human?

The reason your dog is sniffing so much is because they’re trying to figure it out.

Do you like going on walks with your eyes and ears closed? Makes for a difficult and less than enjoyable jaunt, no?

Same here.

Your dog really wants to enjoy their walk with you.

It’s Annoying to Have to Stop Every 3 Feet to Let My Dog Sniff

You guys are really starting to get on my nerves with your self centered complaints here.


Why are y’all so selfish? It’s much more satisfying to be selfless.

Be more like dogs – you could all benefit from this.

So, you’re annoyed, huh? I’ll tell you what…

I’ll meet you in the middle with this one and give you a little “best of both worlds” action.

Train your dog to know that sniff time is only at the very beginning or very end of their walk and not in the middle.

This isn’t easy and takes work, so let’s be honest, if you’re already annoyed with the sniff walks, then the training of the timed-sniffs will be a daunting and overwhelming task for you poor little humans to undertake.

Nevertheless, if you’re up for the job, this small tweak could help you keep your sanity while simultaneously allowing your pup to sniff all the sniffs.

Start with the front-end sniffs. Allow your dog to “lead the way” and give them time when they hit a scent at the beginning of your walk. But once you’re ready to start the walk, walk with authority and pick up the pace. If your dog initiates a slow down based on a smell they pick up, gently pull and maintain walking position.

To ease the blow to the nose, ease off at the end of the walk and let your pup sniff around again. Do this on every walk. We can only learn through consistent repetition.

It’s up to you, people!

Jax’s Conclusive Dog Sniff Thoughts

My only advice to all the humans today is to have patience with your dogs and try to understand how important sniffing is to them and their behavioral development.

We NEED to smell things.

And stop being in such a hurry. Spending time with you on our walks is our second favorite thing – next to sniffing, of course. 🙂

And as always, continue to Live, Love, Laugh, and Scratch our bellies often!

Love you guys,


P.S. If you’re new to this world, you may want to check out my Ultimate Guide for First Time Dog Parents. It’s a great reference to get you started on this journey.

This article has been reviewed by our Editorial Board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our Editorial Policies.

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