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Last Modified: December 30, 2022

Dog’s Super Sense and Our Safety

Published on July 9, 2013 • Last updated December 30, 2022 by Ken Christensen
Topics: Being Safe in Utah (General Safety)


Dog attacking trainer with protective equipment

There are many reasons to fear strange dogs. If you meet one that seems aggressive, you have reason to be afraid because the dog might bite you. Advice on how to deal with strange dogs include allowing the dog to sniff you and avoiding unnecessary movement that might threaten the dog causing it to attack you. You should stand still to let the dog smell you and to decide if you are a friend or an enemy. Mind you, dogs are also touted to smell fear and shame.

Why do dogs sniff? Dogs are equipped with a very sensitive sense of smell. They have around 125 to 300 scent glands depending on the breed. While dogs’ brains are only one tenth of humans’, the part that controls smell is 40 times larger than humans’, making it 1000 to 10,000,000 times more sensitive.

Dogs use their nostrils to get acquainted with their surroundings and to tell the story behind everything in the places they visit. This is how they process information around them. Dogs know which tree other dogs have peed on, where food can be found and a lot of other interesting things as enumerated by Here are some of them:

  1. Bacteria – Dogs can be trained to smell the presence of bacteria known to cause the disease called American Foulbrood which affects beehives. The dog can identify which beehives are infected, allowing the owner to prevent the spread of the disease. Beehive owners can save time going over colonies by using dogs.
  2. Pirated DVDs – Dogs can be trained to smell poly-carbonate, a chemical used in making DVDs. They can alert authorities to the presence of stashed pirated DVDs.
  3. Drowned Bodies- The scent of decomposing corpses is released into the water current and is eventually released into the air. Dogs’ highly developed sense of smell can help locate drowning victims.
  4. Diseases such as diabetes and cancer – There are accounts of dogs that alerted owners of diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
  5. Whale poop – Scientists analyse whale poop to monitor the health of the whale. Dogs are often used to locate these feces because they can trace the smell from a distance of 1.6 miles.
  6. Bed bugs – Trained dogs can detect the presence of bed bugs, helping potential homeowners know if there is bed bug infestation before buying a house.
  7. Minerals and Ores – Mineral deposits can be located by the help of a trained sniffing dog.
  8. Ovulation in cow- Farmers can enlist the help of a trained dog to know if the cow is ready to get pregnant. Artificial insemination is quite costly and timing is crucial.

This list reminds us that dogs, aside from being man’s best friend, can also help us in our economic endeavors, research activities, health concerns, search and rescue and retrieval operations.

We have also heard of dogs working in police units as bomb sniffing dogs, weapon sniffing or drug sniffing dogs. To be able to do this function, dogs undergo intensive training.

Just recently, Deseret News featured Daz, a dog trained to sniff causes of fires. Daz is a Labrador Retriever who has undergone five weeks of training together with his handler in canine-accelerant detection school sponsored by State Farm Insurance and certified by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. According to the news report, Daz was sworn in last Wednesday as the newest member of the Salt Lake City Fire Department. The dog’s handler is an arson investigator named Russ Whitney.

This illustrates that dogs can be trained to do a lot of productive things. Training takes time and involves a lot of effort and patience from the pet owner or handler. Dogs need the guidance from man in order to know what the expected behavior is.

We have all heard of stories regarding dog misbehavior. People have sustained injuries from dog attacks. These untoward incidents put the dog in a bad light. As part of keeping other people safe around your dog, owners must have the necessary  tools and accessories to keep the dog restrained or to prevent it from attacking others. You need also to train your dog how to act around other people and it must always obey your command. At the end of the day, you will be spared the unnecessary trouble and will enjoy your dog’s company and loyalty.

Photo copyright of the Air Force

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