Here’s some excellent insight from animal behaviorist Marc Bekoff, Ph.D. on the potential for sensory deprivation and stress in dogswho aren’t allowed adequate sniffing opportunities:
“Being smell-blind can be aversive to dogs. My recommendation is to let dogs sniff; let’s not hijack one of their vital connections to the world. Let them sniff to their nose’s content when they’re tethered on a leash, or when they’re walking and hanging out with friends and others and running freely.
As mentioned, not allowing dogs to exercise their nose and other senses could be a form of sensory deprivation that robs them of information they need to figure out what’s happening in their world. Being smell-blind can indeed be stressful to dogs because they need odors and other information to assess what’s happening around them.”3
Now, not every walk you take with your dog has to be a leisurely sniff-fest. But at least once a day, let your canine BFF sniff to his heart’s content and feel good that you’re letting your dog be a dog! Evaluating the emotional environment of your home is also a good idea. I have a hunch future research will validate what we very much suspect is true — that pets in happy homes tend to be healthier and more balanced than pets who live in stressed or sick homes.