How dogs scent their world… 

How dogs scent their world… 

There is much discussion among professionals about how a dog sees and interprets their world. 

Having worked with scenting dogs for well over 40+ years, I have come to understand better that while a dog utilizes all of their senses (eyes, ears, & nose) much better than their human counterparts, they absolutely rely on the sensitivity of their nose to tell them what they are seeing.  You can be right in front of them and if they cannot smell you due to ventilation, wind currents, etc. they may not be able to identify you.     


A team of veterinarians and researchers at Cornell University did a study which suggested that dogs might be using their highly-sensitive noses to “see” as well as to smell.  The team of veterinarians discovered that vision and smell are actually connected in the brains of dogs.  This is something not found in any other species.  The team conducted MRI scans on a number of different dogs and successfully mapped the olfactory bulb (the part of the brain dealing with smell) to the occipital lobe (the visual processing area of the brain), shedding new light on how dogs experience and navigate the world.  This study revealed an “extensive pathway” connecting to the occipital lobe but also to the limbic system, which is the part of the brain involved in behavioral and emotional responses.   


How does a blind dog play ball and navigate changes in their environment? 

How does the dog who is deaf and with mental deficits identify that their person is present? 


I have a 14-year-old Belgian who had a vascular incident and suddenly became deaf along with some minor mental deficits.  Even though deaf, he can identify when I arrive home even though he cannot see me.  He will hunt until he locates me wherever I am.  Nose up in the air (he is a retired air scent search and rescue dog) until he makes his way to me.   He constantly moves around new objects in his way and only stumbles if he is traveling too fast to keep up with me or outrun my trainers .   It is quite obvious watching him that he is using his nose to identify where I am.   


EP 2: Trust your Dog, It “Nose” what it’s Doing! – Interview with Kristi Smith, Head Trainer at Dog Trainer, U.S. and the Canine Development Center in Peoria, Arizona


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