The Power of Sniffing, Searching, and Games: Why Your Dog Deserves a Sniffari Adventure!

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Based on an article that first appeared at

Ready for an entertaining twist on your daily dog walks? Let us introduce you to the concept of a "Sniffari"! If you've ever watched your pup get lost in a good sniff during a walk or seen the joy in their eyes when they're hunting for a hidden toy, you know there's something special about these moments. But did you know that such sniffing adventures – or "sniffaris" as we love to call them – are more than just fun for your dog? They're also incredible mental and physical exercises!

Let's dive into the fascinating world of canine olfaction and why engaging in sniffing, searching, and games is crucial for a dog's overall wellbeing.But before you shake your head in bewilderment, consider this: sniffing, searching, and games are not only natural but incredibly beneficial activities for our furry friends. So beneficial, in fact, that we're advocating for regular "sniffaris" for every dog!

Don't believe us? Stick around as we unleash some pawsitively engaging facts about why these activities are excellent for your dog—physically and mentally.

Yellow lab smelling the ground of flowers.

A Dog's Incredible Sense of Smell

To appreciate the value of sniffing for a dog, let's first marvel at their sniffing superpowers. Did you know that a dog's sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times more sensitive than a human's? Dogs have up to 300 million smell receptors, compared to a human's 5 million. That's why sniffing is so essential for them—it's how they perceive the world.


  • Mental Stimulation: Sniffing engages the brain, helping your dog interpret the complex world around them.
  • Reduced Stress: Sniffing can be calming and reduce anxiety.
  • Physical Exercise: It may not seem like much, but sniffing around can also be a form of light exercise.

Searching: The Treasure Hunt of Life

Why toss a treat to your dog when you can make a game out of it? Hide the treat and let them find it! Searching taps into their natural instincts to forage and hunt. Just like we need puzzles, books, or hobbies to keep our minds sharp, dogs need mental stimulation, too.

While fetch is a fantastic game, dogs benefit from a variety of games that challenge them in different ways. Puzzle toys, agility courses, or even simple games of hide-and-seek can make your dog's day.


  • Enhanced Problem-Solving Skills: Searching requires your dog to think, adapt, and solve problems.
  • Confidence Building: Successful searches can boost your dog's confidence.
  • Bonding: Playing games together can strengthen the bond between you and your dog.

Think Breathing Exercises

While sniffing might not seem like intense exercise, it actually involves many subtle movements and has natural stress relief and calming effects:

  • It can decrease their heart rate.
  • Release endorphins, which are the body's natural painkillers and mood elevators.
  • Act as a distraction from potential stressors, such as loud noises or unfamiliar environments.
  • Maneuvering the nose and deep breathing.
  • Pacing and deciding which direction to take based on the scents.

Over time, these movements provide great low-impact physical exercise, especially beneficial for senior dogs or those with mobility issues.

Dalmatian sniffing the air.

The What’s and How To’s of Sniffaris

If you've never taken your dog on a “sniffari"—basically an adventure led by their nose—now's the time! A “sniffari” can be as simple as a walk where you allow your dog to lead the way, sniffing and investigating to their heart's content. They choose the directions and the off-road attractions.

Sure, this works great if your dog is already super sniffy, but if your pup’s walks aren’t as adventurous as a hound’s, here are some tips:

  • Choose a Safe Location: Parks, trails, different neighborhoods, or even your own fenced-in back yard can offer new scents for your dog to explore.
  • Leash Up: Use a long leash to give your dog plenty of room to explore.
  • Take Your Time: The point is to let your dog set the pace and decide the route based on what interests them. Give them the lead and allow them to take their time (audiobooks and podcasts for the humans are always good options).
  • Do It Your Way: We know not all areas are ideal for walking, and other life engagements can cause a time crunch, so if you have a fenced-in yard or stable leash set up outside, take a few minutes to hide treats all around your space and let your dog have a blast finding them!
    • For experienced searchers, you can try digging a shallow space in the mulch or leaving a puzzle toy filled with treats to find.

It's the ultimate sensory experience for dogs and an exercise in mindfulness for the human on the other end of the leash. Trust us, the “sniffari” will turn your ordinary walks into extraordinary explorations! And, believe it or not, a good “sniffari” can wear your dog out just as effectively as a long walk or run.

All Dogs Included

For our pups who may be past their prime, have special needs, or have difficulties walking, we suggest the wonderful world of snuffle mats. Snuffle mats are a perfect enrichment tool designed to engage your dog's natural foraging instincts. Typically made of fabric strips on a base layer (think of a really shaggy rug or a rug made with ribbon!), these mats provide an intricate landscape where you can hide treats or kibble in it’s nooks and crannies to create a playground for your special pooch. As your dog navigates through the fabric to locate the hidden food, they receive not only a physical challenge but also a cognitive one. It's like a stay-at-home “sniffari”!

Snuffle mats are also a good idea for any dogs who like to be active and are recovering from surgery! Cruciate tears have a longer recovery time— we recommend trying a snuffle mat a few times a day for your bored pooch.

The More You Know

Sniffing, searching, and playing games are about more than just keeping your dog entertained; they are crucial for their physical and mental wellbeing. Think of it as a window to a world rich in stories, puzzles, and adventures. By understanding and encouraging this behavior, you're not only enhancing your dog's wellbeing but also deepening the bond you share. So the next time your dog starts sniffing around, think twice before you pull them away—they're just engaging with the world in the way that nature intended. And who knows? You might even discover that “sniffaris” become the highlight of your dog's day—aside from seeing you, of course!