Sniffology! The Power of Scent
HOW SMELLS HELP YOUR DOG
A dog’s sense of smell is incredibly powerful – 40 times stronger than ours. Which means what’s in the air around them can have an impact on their mood and behaviour
A dog’s world revolves around scent and this special skill can be harnessed to help with their overall wellbeing… from keeping their minds active with scent games, to ensuring a stress-free bathtime. Think of it as aromatherapy… for dogs!
Everyday aromas around the house – your choice of floor cleaner, furniture polish, deodorant, candles or even perfumes and aftershaves – can really get up a dog’s nose. Many household and personal care products contain synthetic ingredients that ‘mimic’ familiar scents so that human noses find them attractive… but your dog probably won’t.
Imagine having a sense of smell so advanced you’d be able to detect a spoonful of sugar… in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. For your dog to live in an environment of aromas that they’ve evolved to avoid, or to be constantly detecting chemicals and synthetic ingredients that they think shouldn’t be there, can be stressful.
So it’s no wonder some dogs end up feeling anxious, even at home. And anxious dogs can develop problems bigger than chewing your shoes or favourite cushions.
AROMATHERAPY, FOR DOGS
SOME KEY DO’s AND DON’Ts
· Anything that smells strong to you, will likely overwhelm your dog. When cleaning your home – especially kitchens and bathrooms - make sure they are out of the way and if you can, ventilate the rooms.
· Avoid aerosols like air fresheners, bug/fly sprays, hairsprays, deodorants, oven cleaners with your dog nearby
· Be particularly careful with plug-in diffusers as these can emit a constant non-natural aroma. If it’s a synthetic blend, you dog will just be detecting some really complex chemicals… even though it smells like fresh linen or juicy citrus to us
· Whilst some aromas work really well for dogs, they may be unpleasant to cats. If you have fish, reptiles, small mammals or birds then you should also be cautious about where to place candles and diffusers in the home.
WHAT DOES WORK FOR DOGS?
· Some natural scents can really relax or uplift your dog
· Woody scents in general can be great for taking your dog back to memories of foraging outside – and then connect them to a sense of comfort and security with you. Cedarwood is known to be soothing and calming, a great circulation booster and has some antiseptic and antibacterial properties too
· Oils derived from herbs and plants can also be helpful. Vetiver – which is also known as the ‘oil of tranquility’ - is made from the roots of grasses native to India. The fragrant earthy and grassy notes help reduce anxiety and stress. This can be used to help with focus and calming. Petitgrain – which comes from the leaves of the bitter orange tree – has a subtle floral and woody character which is reviving and balancing.
GET TO KNOW WHAT YOUR DOG LIKES
· Introduce natural scents to them gently and in very low doses – remember that they will be detecting it much more powerfully that you. A single drop on a cotton pad should be enough to fill a room from a dog’s perspective and to experiment with individual oils, or blends.
· Notice any change in their body language, mood or energy level… your dog will likely try to communicate with you if its appealing or not.
· Take notice of their body language. Do they approach the scent without being encouraged? Is your dog excited to be near it? Do they become noticeably more relaxed or calm?