Stinky Dogs

Golden Cali and Lab Koala sniff deeply at the grass and leaves
Cali and Koala explore the neighborhood with their sensitive noses

When I last took Cali to the groomer, I noticed a row of bottles of dog perfume near the checkout. Clients could choose a scent and spray their dogs when they picked up their clean and trimmed pups.

Eeewww, I thought, that’s a terrible idea.

Then I saw an article about “the best” dog perfumes. Promoting them to cover “wet dog” smell.

We need to be clear on why this is a terrible idea.

Dogs’ sense of smell is hundreds to thousands of times more powerful and sensitive than humans’. If you spray something on your dog in a significant enough quantity that you can smell it from any distance at all, even snuggling distance, your poor dog is being overwhelmed by the scent.

That’s bad enough if it’s a scent that dogs like, such as, say, dead fish or fresh deer droppings. But a fake chemical scent intended to smell like, who knows, a floral bouquet or clean linen (whatever that smells like) or mangoes … just no.

The dog’s primary and preferred method of exploring the world is scent. This is how dogs recognize friends, potential friends, and for dogs other than Cali and Orly (for whom there are only those two categories) potential foes; it’s how they decide where to lead me on our smell walks and which disgusting (oops, I meant delightful) dead things to roll in at the dog beach.

I’ve always thought that the reason nearly all dogs race outside to roll in the grass (if you’re lucky) immediately after a bath is that they are trying to get rid of the scent of the shampoo. I look for unscented dog shampoos — and rinse really, really well. I think dog shampoos should smell like freshly cut grass or sea breezes… or nothing. Cali would choose other scents, I am sure.

Adding a sweet, fruity, floral, or other scent — “sugarcane island” and “cookie crush” are real options — on top of that is torture for the dog. It overwhelms her sensitive nose and interferes with her most basic means of experiencing the world. Like the annoying tag jingle, she can’t escape it. And it’s completely unnecessary: Your clean dog smells great just as she is — once her fur is dry, that is!

2 thoughts on “Stinky Dogs

  1. Having trained Yodo in Nose Work, I can fully agree with what you posted. I always encouraged him to use his nose, yet I know a lot of dog owners who won’t let there dogs take time for a good sniff while out for a walk. Yodo has his Level One in Birch Oil from the Nat’l Assoc. of Canine Noseworkers.


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