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You’ve Got (Pee) Mail

Author: Andrea Obey | Date: May 7, 2012

I’m not sure exactly where I first heard the term “Pee Mail” but it still cracks me up.  It’s also pretty accurate.  Well, to dogs anyway. We generally get bored with our dogs when we are on walks and they stop and smell EVERYTHING.  “Come on, Spike!  We have two miles to run, have to work on your leash manners, stop at the dry cleaners…”  But to them the simple act of smelling can be such a rewarding experience, and they gather so much detailed information from sniffing around.

For those of us who live in areas of the world that experience snow, we can see during the winter just how many dogs have marked around the neighborhood.  Last winter, I stopped and really noticed just how much Pee Mail was on the ground.  Quite a bit in fact in the neighborhood I was walking with a dog.  No wonder he wanted to smell everything!  At that moment, I imagined it was like getting a hundred emails in your inbox that contained a lot of information in a very short and sweet message.  Some may have even seemed like love letters.  Then there was that darn cat!  And don’t even get me started on those weird looking creatures humans call raccoons.  Wait!  A squirrel!  I also detect a touch of pizza and maybe some lunch meat.  You get the idea.

Most of us know about dogs who are trained to sniff out bombs, drugs, people, cancer and just about anything else. There is also competitive nose work training, which I’ve witnessed and it looks like a ton of fun.  There is amazing research and information about how dogs depend on their noses and I think we tend to ignore just how very important it is to them.

Dogs can identify smells somewhere between 1,000 to 10,000 times better than us!

But how can we use this in our daily lives with our dogs?  As a reward, of course!  You can incorporate this into your daily training easily by asking your pooch to “go potty” or “watch me” as a stimulus goes by or whatever you are working on.  Then after the job is well done, “go sniff!”  Letting your dog take in information about its surroundings is probably pretty important to them.  This is what is referred to as a life reward and is especially useful if you have a real Sherlock Holmes on your hands.  It’s also handy if you don’t want to use too many food treats for whatever reason.  For example, a Beagle, other hound, or hound mix especially may be incredibly motivated by being allowed to sniff. Use this to your advantage as a reward for training.

Don’t dismiss the sniff; dogs really depend on their sense of smell so why not use it as a reward or enrichment?

And, if you have a very active dog, I’m pretty sure letting them smell everything after a good workout and/or training session will yield a content dog. Hopefully they’ll take a long snooze while dreaming of a squirrel running by with a lunch meat laden pizza.

 


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