The Nose Knows
By Kim Howatt on October 3, 2023
The Power of Choice
Welcome to October! It still feels a bit like summer here, yet the nights are cooler and the sun sets sooner.

I felt That a great start to this month would be a bit of a discussion on our dogs' nose-ability.

At the end, I will link a fabulous video that very simply explains howour dogs Olfactory System works.

In my last article, I touched on the importance of choice, and how Jango LOVES to make choices. Today, I will expand a little bit on that and talk  smelling.

It is vital to our dog's wellbeing that we give them plenty of time in the outside world for smelling. There are several ways to accomplish this, but the more we can accommodate their sniffers the better.

When we allow our dogs to sniff the world, it brings about a feeling of safety for them as they understand the world through their noses. Allowing our dogs to choose their walking adventures is important. When our dogs hesitate, stop and wish to sniff in a particular area on our walks, it is for good reason. We can all become better "listeners" when we see our dogs pull up and smell.

Many times we are on a schedule, or we want to "keep it moving", but our dog is asking for time.

They may need time to assess the safety of where they are. Is a predator near?

They may come across a plant that is offering them support and healing in some way. It may be so subtle that we do not even notice an imbalance.

They may just want to slow down and take in all that is being offered as information.

Sniffing builds confidence, again, because allowing them to spend time in a specific spot on a walk gives them time to assess safety. They will always move in a direction of safety. When we allow them to choose, they will gain confidence. This is why dog sports like scentwork are so important and so healing for our dogs.

Sniffing is soothing. Our dogs will find plants in the environment that bring a sense of calm. When we combine safety with the healing power of plants, we will find our dogs become less aroused and much more calm. If you have ever watched my youtube videos, they show just how calming aromatics can be for our dogs, using only their noses.

Pay Attention to that Sniffer!

Imagine that you wake up on a beautiful, sunny day. A big yawn followed by a big stretch and a happy and excited snuggle from the  dog. After dressing in walking clothes, you find your way to the door where the harness and leash are hanging.  Put on shoes and put the harness around the wiggly and happy dog. You head out the door to embrace this beautiful day.

You choose to go on one of your dogs favorite routes. The walk is going great. The morning dew shines in the sunlight and that brings a smile to your face. Your dog is sniffing away, bringing in all the latest neighborhood news and information. You haven't gone very far yet, and wish to get our exercise in on this walk.

Checking your watch you realize it is time to move on if you are to stay on schedule. You must prepare for the day.  But wait! Your dog pulls up and hesitates, not wishing to move forward. Their nose in the ground, they are investigating. Tick tick tick, the time seems to pass faster and faster. Do you become stressed, frustrated, or impatient? Or do you always have treats with you for just such an occasion?   We do have work to think about after all.

I imagine on some level, each and every one of us can relate to this story, even if it wasn't on a walk. We can each relate to a time when we were in a bit of a rush to move along and our dogs had different ideas. Pulling out a treat to move them along works many times, but is it supporting the dog?

When our dogs are not listening to us, they are engaged in very important work. This story represents the dog and how they are asking for us to observe and listen to them.

What is your dog sniffing? What is the body language? Notice the little things like posture, tail position, ear position.  If they are sniffing a plant, what is it? Is it grass, or flower or weed? There are so many possibilities for our dogs sniffing, but all we really need to know is that the opportunity to smell is very, very important to their wellbeing.

I am sure many of you already allow the dog to choose their walk, but now I encourage you to add the skill of observation. Be with your dog on their walk. No phones. Write down anything curious that you observe. Keep a quick journal of each sniffing adventure. Take photos of grass, flowers, weeds that capture their interest. Often, we believe immediately that our dogs are smelling other creatures, and that is, of course, true. But they are also inhaling the healing properties of the plant life that exists around them.

No unnecessary conversations, thoughts, or worries. Watch them. For me, it is the best entertainment in town!

The Challenge

My challenge to you this week is to take your dogs out on an adventure and let them lead the way.  Observe and write down all that they spend time sniffing. Was it a plant, a specific place in the grass, a tree, or in the air? 

We can learn so much about our animals when we become observers of their subtle behaviors. Go out when there is no timeframe and no pressure to "get somewhere".

Watch how your dog's nose moves and functions. When is it wet? When is it dry? Can you see how they bracket from one side to another? They use their nostrils independently, and the scents go directly to the brain and then disperse systemically throughout their body. They release the odor through the side slits so that it does not interfere with the new odors coming in. 

They truly do FEEL what they smell, and it is pretty freaking amazing. Smelling is healing for them, and they know just what they need in the moment.

Send me an email at with your thoughts, observations, photos, and videos. Everything can be a great learning experience when we are open and curious.

I will be super interested to read about what you observe and I would love to see pictures or videos posted in the group. We can all always learn from the experiences of others :)

Love & Light


Divider Text
The Raidho Canine Way™
Divider Text
This article is for entertainment and information only. It is, of course, my opinion.

If you are ready to strengthen your bond with your dog,  then let's work together! I offer several options, and my Canine Co-Creators Adventure is an absolutely incredible opportunity where we work with a small group of like-minded dogs and humans over  an 8 week period. is where you can read more details!

"When we listen to our dog's perspective, it changes our lives in magical ways."

Love & Light,
Kim - Animal Wisdom Alchemist

Igniting inner power through the innate wisdom and insights of our animals