6 Sweet Ways Unhurried ‘Sniffy Walks’ Improve Your Dog’s Mental & Physical Health — While Benefiting Yours Too

Letting your pup stop to smell the grass can improve their lives — and yours.

Person walking many dogs Blue Bird / Pexels

There are many well-documented health benefits to owning a dog.

Having a canine companion has been linked to better mental health and a lower perception of social isolation. Dog owners also have access to more physical activity, just by virtue of taking their furry friends out for walks.

Research shows that taking our time during daily walks isn’t just good for our own health, it’s good for our dog’s overall health, too. Here are 6 reasons why it’s important to let your dog sniff around on walks.


Here are 6 ways ‘sniffy walks’ improve your dog's mental and physical health.

1. Unhurried ‘sniffy walks’ decrease your dog’s heart rate.

According to a TikTok post from Nikkie Vasconez, a self-proclaimed Animal Psychic and Teacher, a great reason to let your dog smell all the smells on a walk is in the health benefits they receive, which includes a lowered heart rate. Vasconez states, “They need to sniff as much as they need regular exercise.”

An article published by the American Kennel Club corroborates that information, explaining that the act of sniffing lowers dogs’ pulse rates and releases dopamine, which is a mood-boosting chemical. 




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2. Sniffing is mentally and physically stimulating for dogs.

Vasconez reports that letting your dog sniff on a walk provides valuable mental stimulation, which is just as important as physical exercise.

The American Kennel Club states that a dog’s nose has over 200 million scent receptors, while a human nose only has 6 million. Dogs sniff 5 to 10 times a second; humans only sniff once every 1.5 seconds.


When dogs sniff, they’re able to gather important information about their environment. Sniffing is how they understand and process the world around them. Sniffing allows dogs to exercise their brains, and it also increases their respiration rate, making it a tiring activity. So, at the end of a sniffy walk, you’ll have a happy, sleepy pup! 

3. Sniffy walks decrease dogs’ stress levels.

The article from the American Kennel Club quoted Staci Lemke, a Registered Veterinary Technician and Certified Professional Dog Trainer, on why sniffy walks are good for dogs. Lemke explained that taking a dog on a fast-past walk in a hectic environment can increase their anxiety. 

“If we can find a safe place where these dogs can let their guard down and explore using their noses, it can greatly reduce the amount of stress in their lives,” she stated.

Sniffing can also make dogs feel more optimistic, as a 2019 study from the Applied Animal Science Behavior journal discovered. In studying dogs’ “olfactory foraging behavior,” scientists found that “allowing dogs to spend more time using their olfaction through a regular nosework activity makes them more optimistic.”


4. Sniffy walks improve a dog’s behavior.

As noted in the aforementioned study from Applied Animal Science Behavior, dogs “cannot choose their daily activities; nor do they generally have the opportunity to express the natural behaviors necessary for their welfare,” such as sniffing. 

Dog owner Nicole Pellegrino posted on TikTok saying that she listened to a podcast that said letting a dog sniff makes them "overall healthier and happier, apparently, it's equivalent to them reading a newspaper and getting their info for the day."

A mentally-stimulated, well-walked dog is a happy dog, and a happy dog is way less likely to take out their boredom or frustration by chewing up your favorite pair of shoes or rummaging through the trash.



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5. Sniffy walks fulfill a dog’s instinctual desire to explore.

As Lemke explained it, letting a dog sniff at their own pace gives them a chance to truly take in their surroundings. 

“Imagine someone taking you to an art gallery, then blindfolding you. You wouldn’t get much out of it, would you? I imagine that’s how it is for dogs that are rushed along on walks without the opportunity to stop and sniff,” she stated.

Dogs’ noses are hyper-sensitive, and letting them fully utilize their sniffers keeps them connected to their naturally curious personalities. 

6. A sniffy walk is for your dog, but it benefits you, too.

Veterinary surgeon Zoe Belshaw was quoted in an article from The Telegraph on the value of giving dogs time to sniff on walks. “It's a massively important part of their quality of life, being able to sniff," she stated. “Sniffing is really, really important.”


She acknowledged that while it might be hard for humans to extend their walk time, doing so enhances your dog’s daily experience, and what more could we want for our best friends?

“You just have to reframe what the point of that walk is so that you don't get driven berserk by the fact that you've been standing by a lamppost for nine and a half minutes,” Belshaw explained.

In our fast-paced human world, there’s inherent value in taking time to slow down and move our bodies, outside, with our beloved dogs. To feel the sun on our shoulders and breathe fresh air, to catalog the flowers we find along the way, is a solid reminder that life is a journey to savor, not rush our way through.

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers mental health issues, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.