Your dog’s snoot is way more powerful than you could have ever imagined. Yes, they actually must stick their nose in your crotch and smell every other dog’s butt. To us homo sapiens these are two big social taboos that, aside from very dirty looks, would get us arrested for assault. To our brethren canines though, this is simply how they gather information according to Alexandra Horowitz, canine cognition specialist at Barnard College.
Following the very successful Inside Of A Dog, her latest book Being A Dog: Following the Dog Into a World of Smell delves into all the questions we humans have about why dogs just have to stick their nose in everybody’s business. Alas, there is a reason! In the visual world we created for ourselves, dogs see with their nose, explains Horowitz. This past week she gave an interview to NPR’s “Fresh Air” program which you can listen to here. Listening in to this program Horowitz speaks more about her research between dogs and that ol’ olfactory system.
Horowitz also suggests taking your pup on a “smell walk” from time to time. So next time you’re out with your floof and they go into donkey-mode to smell something, indulge them. It’s their natural instinct, but more importantly it is how they understand our world and live in it. As a dog-walker, I like to call these “smelly days” when I don’t walk very far with a pup because they sniff everything along our route.
A dog’s sense of smell is mesmerizing when you stop to think about it, especially when it’s so much more amplified than our own. Even their exhale increases the amount of what scent they can pick up, versus our exhale that eliminates any smell we are sensing. How cool is that!
With the release of her new book, Alexandra Horowitz is headed to Chicago to do a special book signing and luncheon at the Union League Club of Chicago on Thursday, October 20th, 2016 at 11:30am. Tickets can be purchased at this link to attend the luncheon, and books are available for sale at the venue as well. If you’d like just a copy of her book, you can purchase it here in all forms paper and electronic.
Check out more about Alexandra Horowitz who has contributed to TED Ed, the Smithsonian, and the New Yorker. And don't forget to buy your tickets to meet her in person below!