I draw the line at lightening storms, but a little rain holds no water as an excuse to Indi for not going on the daily long walk – even on a Sunday. Whatever slight discomfort a hard rain might bring to me, it brings the very best out in him. He runs a little more joyfully, soaking in the amazing smells that are enhanced by the warm, wet air.
According to Garry Jenkins, author of a collection of on-line article about the evolution, physiology, senses and behavior of dogs, “smell is the dog’s dominant sense, so much so that a huge part of its brain is devoted to analyzing odors. Dogs have two giant olfactory bulbs attached to the brain which decode every smell they encounter. The bulbs weigh around 60 grams, four times as much as human olfactory bulbs. Given that a canine brain is one tenth of the size of a human one, that means the canine brain has forty times as much of its brain devoted to smell as we do. Little wonder then that a dog’s sense of smell is reckoned to be 100,000 times better than a human’s.
“The source of the dog’s exceptional ability to smell,” Garry says, “is its wet snout. The moist leathery surface of the snout acts like Velcro catching even the tiniest molecules of smells, then dissolving them so that the dog’s internal, smell receptor cells can analyze them properly. To keep his nose wet a dog must produce a constant supply of mucus through its nasal cavities. Scientists reckon the average dog produces a pint of this mucus every day.”
So dogs have a keen sense of smell. But is it stronger in the rain? It took a lot of looking to find someone that addressed this particular issue. “Right before a front moves in birds feed more and scent is strong,” says Robin Gates, a professional dog trainer, from Leesburg, GA. “The best opportunities come on these days. After a storm passes and the front has moved through, barometric pressure decreases. Though it turns into a beautiful blue bird day as described earlier, such a day usually makes hard conditions for picking up scent. Rainy weather is considered an all-right time to track game as animals often move during rain and then hold tight afterward. Hot, dry air makes scenting conditions worse. In contrast, optimal scenting conditions are when the ground temperature is slightly warmer than the air, usually early evening.”
This on-point piece of advice comes from the blog of Johnny and Robin Blakley, owners of Buffalo Creek Farm, a 34-acre farm nestled in the rolling hills of the Piedmont of North Carolina, in the small quaint town of Germanton.
Makes sense. But the only authoritative source Indi needs to prove that dogs do have a stronger sense of smell in the rain is his nose.
Here are four more reasons to take your dog running in the rain:
1. In the woods when it is raining a million or maybe a billion rain drops hit a million or maybe a billion tree-top leaves, and the sound they produce is like waves breaking in the ocean. It calms your heart to hear it.
2. People walking little dogs who are skittish about encountering other running dogs in the woods are usually also skittish about walking in the rain.
3. Generally you will have the dog park all to yourself. It’s really the most fun when it’s full of dogs and people, but there’s a different kind of fun in the one-on-one play when it’s just you and the dog at the park.
4. Dogs still need their exercise – rain or no rain – and so do you.