Dogs Sense (II): Nose- An Insight Into A Dogs Olfactory Senses
30 Oct 2014
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Imagine how your life would be if you couldn’t see. Tough isn’t it? Well what seeing is to us humans, olfaction is to dogs. We look to perceive while dogs smell to perceive. The Dogs brain is about one-tenth the size of a human brain, the size of the part that controls the smell is about forty times larger than that of humans. This obviously makes dogs smell much more than us. We may smell a burger and get all excited with our mouths watering, but a dog can smell the bread, the oil, the meat, the tiny portion of the burnt bread, every minute detail.
Nose enables Storytelling
To a dog sniffing isn’t just about taking the scent in, but it’s about understanding the story behind everything they smell. They can tell a lot about other dogs, humans and other animals like if they are male or female, if they are ready to mate, if they recently gave birth, what mood they are in, what they ate recently. Dogs can smell places that you have touched and your blood flow thus also being able to judge your mood and intentions through smell. Therefore, it’s not just smelling a scent but its also reading an entire story.
Human Olfactory Nerves vs Dog Olfactory Nerves
So what is it that dogs have and we don’t? For one they have over 300 million olfactory nerves in their nose while we have about six million. Unlike humans dogs sniff and breathe separately. Their nasal cavity in divided in two parts for each of these functions. For dogs breathing is for air and sniffing is for one, both if which we do in one breath. This makes the olfactory portion of a dogs nose more focused making smells stronger and clearer.
Benefits of Superior Smelling
A dog can sniff out many smells that human noses cannot catch. Because of this detailed sense of smell, they can be trained for jobs such as tracking, rescue, drug and bomb detection and to detect a wide variety of scents, such as drugs, fruits or the feces of particular animals. Dogs that make a living by sniffing are trained to alert their handlers to the presence of these things by pawing, barking, or in the case of something dangerous, sitting quietly. They are believed to be able to smell out a rotten apple located in the midst of over 500 apples.
Dogs are hired for different jobs like sniffing drugs out and catching violators. They are also hired to find a specific person or thing based on their body odor. Dogs are used to smell out usual things like a rotten fruit and a bad piece of meat. Not just humans but they can smell other animals including other dogs too. Another very interesting thing about dogs is that they may be able to smell and predict possible natural calamities like a storm or a flood. This is still unproved but is very much on the loop.
Dogs and Human Diseases
Interestingly, they can smell hormones in a human being able to predict their behavior or helping them calm down. This is why many dogs are trained to help people in prison feel loved, helping them feel safe and calming them down. There are stories about cancer sniffing dogs that "insisted" on melanoma in a spot on a patient's skin that doctors had already pronounced cancer-free; a subsequent biopsy confirmed melanoma in a small fraction of the cells. Canines have been tested for their ability to sniff out bladder and prostate cancer in urine, melanoma and breast cancer on skin, ovarian cancer from tissue samples, and lung cancer on a patient’s breath. Some studies claim dogs can detect cancer with more than 95 percent accuracy.
Dogs are trained by the motivation of a favorite toy, snack or play time each time they successfully sniff out the target scent. This newly popular method is called ‘positive reinforcement’. Like always, a dog is forever ready to do what we want them to they do everything out of love. We have something to learn from them don’t we? Remember Scooby Doo? That’s our favorite pet dog whose natural instinct was to sniff out food and solve mysteries too!
Read more about employing canines into scent-inductive service here:
Image Source: timvandergrift.com