Why Does My Dog Sniff Around for a Potty Spot?

by Perfect Puppy Care on August 13, 2012

It can be aggravating to wait for your dog to find a potty spot – especially in inclement weather when the wind is howling, snow is flying or rain is falling in a deluge.

Understanding why dogs take the sniff approach to finding a place to do their potty business is paramount to being able to encourage Rover to hurry up.

First, keep in mind that dogs have a sense of smell that makes our human noses look like they didn’t even get out of the race starting gate. Experts from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and Auburn Universities claim that a dog has more than 220 million olfactory receptors in its nose, while humans have only 5 million. This keen sense of smell, which is thought to be 1,000 times more sensitive than that of humans, allows dogs to determine all kinds of valuable information with just a brief sniff.

Dogs will put their sniffers in overdrive when they reach an area that other dogs have used for bathroom purposes. They do this to glean information. Dog waste can include “valuable” information such as the sex of the depositor, whether or not a bitch in in heat, the health status of the animal and what they have been eating.

Dogs use their bodily waste to mark their territory. The marking of territory is the canine way of saying “stay out. This is mine.” If one dog urinates in the yard, others will surely follow, possibly in an attempt to be the alpha dog of the territory. We have all most likely seen instances when one dog urinates and a second one immediately goes in the same spot.

The good news is that you can do some training that can cut back on the amount of time it takes your dog to find a potty spot.
First, choose an area that you would prefer the dog uses for its bathroom business. It is a good idea to have this picked out even before you bring a puppy home for the first time.

Be consistent about taking the dog to the designated area. At first, he or she may try wandering to other areas of the yard. Use perseverance to get the dog to use the area you are designating. It may require taking the dog outdoors on a lease even though the yard is fenced in. Diligence will soon have Fido heading right to his potty spot. Of course, expect delays if other dogs have access to the potty spot. Fido will be forced to spend more time marking his territory.

There isn’t much you can do to hurry up the potty business when you take the dog outside of his or her yard. In strange territory, dogs are going to sniff to see who has been there before them. They are in sleuth mode at this point, determined to figure out what is going on and what has transpired in the area.

However, it can be helpful if you train your dog to understand a command such as “hurry, hurry.” This lets them know that it is time to get down to business.

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