Holidays Smells Are in the Air! Linda Michaels, M.A., — Del Mar Dog Training

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Photo Courtesy of Jen Bergren —

The aromatic heralds of the holiday season are coming to your home soon; roasted chestnuts, eggnog lattes, cranberry sauce, hot pumpkin-spice pie, gingerbread cookies and turkey, scented candles and pine trees. Yum!

Pet parents often believe dogs can learn to see things from the human point of view. However, although dogs are extraordinarily teachable and adaptable they are also utterly unique. Understanding how your dog perceives the world can deeper your relationship. Dogs live in a subterranean world full of information we are entirely unaware of — a world where the nose leads.

Puppies are born with a fully functioning sense of smell. Dogs get most of their information about the world from sniffing a continuous stream of scents that travel directly to the brain. The dog brain is dominated by olfactory structures larger than the area of the brain devoted to vision in humans. Their sense of smell is anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 times greater than a human’s! Dogs help detect cancer, locate disaster victims, find illegal drugs and find other lost pets. The intensity of their sniffing experiences is beyond our imagination. Be careful not to subject your dog to powerful scents that may be mild to us but overwhelming to your dog, such as citronella collars, cleaning products and air fresheners.

Research shows that odors are strongly tied to emotional memories, so leaving your dog with a “comfort item” such as a work out t-shirt can help with separation anxiety during the holiday or any season. Nose work classes are very popular and fun.


Photo Courtesy of Patton and Jade

If you’re cooking a turkey dinner this holiday, rest assured your dog can easily identify each ingredient individually in your carefully executed recipe. Your dog is your most ardent admirer. Expecting your dog to ignore, not become excited or worst of all, be left out of the festivities just isn’t fair! Merrick’s® Thanksgiving and Christmas Day Dinners are big favorites. Or why not cook up a special canine plate for your furry member of the family and celebrate together. Bon Appetit!

Linda Michaels, “Dog Psychologist,” MA, and Victoria Stilwell-licensed Del Mar dog trainer and speaker may be reached at 858.259.WOOF (9663) or by for private obedience instruction and behavioral consultations near Del Mar and the San Diego Coast. Please visit us

Originally published in the U~T San Diego, Scratch n’ Sniff. Chris Ross, Editor.


Linda Michaels, M.A. Psychology, Del Mar Dog Training, serves clients in Del Mar and San Diego County from La Jolla to Carlsbad, plus Rancho Santa Fe, Hollywood, and Beverly Hills. Linda Michaels was recently rated one of the top ten dog trainers in the United States, by Top Ten Magazine. Linda has a master’s degree in Experimental Psychology (Hons), and is the creator of the Hierarchy of Dog Needs™ (HDN). She focuses on the psychological aspects of dog behavior that often mirror human psychological conditions, such as: fear, separation/attachment disorders, and aggression toward humans and other dogs. She also teaches private, customized basic manners/obedience lessons for dogs of all ages and every breed.

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