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18 Smells That Dogs Love (2024 Guide)

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By Nicole Cosgrove

A dog sniffing a scent

Maybe you’ve spotted your dog with their nose to the breeze, smelling a faraway scent that you’ve got no chance of detecting. Our dogs have far more sensitive noses than we do, and their ability to smell is one of their most important senses. We humans have around 5 million scent receptors in our noses. Compare this to the 300 million found within a Bloodhound’s nose, and it starts to make sense why our beloved dogs spend so much time sniffing everything!

Our beloved dogs also seem to love smells that have absolutely no appeal to us, so sometimes we roll our eyes when our dogs are proud that they’ve not only found something deliciously stinky but managed to roll in it as well!

Here’s our list of 18 smells that dogs just can’t get enough of. From the obvious to the strange, they’re all here.

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The 18 Everyday Smells That Dogs Love

1. The Smell of Their Favorite Humans

portrait of a Cute brown toy poodle with his young woman_eva_blanco_shutterstock
Photo Credit: eva_blanco, Shutterstock

Brain-imaging studies have shown that the smell of familiar humans triggers the area of a dog’s brain known as the caudate nucleus. This part of the brain is connected to memories of positive expectations, so perhaps your dog is getting ready for a cuddle or treat! Dogs can easily tell the smell of one human from another, even when they can’t see them.

2. Other Dogs

Two white dogs
Image Credit: sdnet01, Pixabay

On their daily walks, some dogs just love to stop and sniff every single fire hydrant and building corner. What they’re doing is sniffing the scents left by other dogs. Who knows, their favorite pal might just have passed by!

3. BBQ Meat

barbecue meat
Image: Pixabay

Dogs love meat! Your dog can sniff out sausages from a hundred paces and will soon position themselves right next to you, just in case something happens to fall off the grill!

4. Garbage

The dog is ferreting the garbage _frank60_shutterstock
Image Credit: frank60_shutterstock

Dogs just love sniffing through a good pile of garbage with all the different smells in there. While it isn’t the greatest idea to let your dog loose to sniff trash, some pups are trash can raiders, and as soon as your back is turned, they’ll be off to investigate!

5. Fallen Leaves

dog in fallen leaves
Image: Pixabay

Who knows what exciting things might be hiding in a pile of fall leaves? There’s only one way for your pup to find out: sniffing through the entire pile.

6. Their Toys

dog playing with chew toys
Image: Pixabay

Even if you put your dog’s toys away somewhere safe after playtime, they’re going to know exactly where you’ve hidden them! Your dog’s excellent sense of smell makes it easy for them to track down their toys.

7. Their Dog Food

West Highland White Terrier dog at home eating_alejandro rodriguez_shutterstock
Image Credit: alejandro-rodriguez, Shutterstock

Most dogs start to hover close to their humans near mealtimes, and the smell of their food being prepared is enough to make most dogs salivate with anticipation.

8. Your Feelings

woman cuddles dog
Image: Albina Glisic, Shutterstock

It’s true: Your dog can pick up on smells that can tell them how you’re feeling. They can pick up on hormones like cortisol and adrenalin, which let them know you’re feeling stressed or fearful.

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The 6 Really Stinky Smells That Dogs Love

Some smells that dogs love have absolutely no appeal to our noses at all! They’re positively disgusting, which seems to make them even more attractive to our pups.

9. Skunk or Fox Poop

skunk walking
Image: Pixabay

Dogs absolutely love the smell of really stinky poop! Whether you have foxes, skunks, or other large wild animals in your area, you can be sure your dog will love to smell — and usually roll in — their poop whenever they get the chance. This is an evolutionary throwback, as it masks the dog’s scent and can make it easier for them to sneak up on their prey.

10. Dog Poop

Dog pooping
Image Credit: Kittibowornphatnon, shutterstock

While most dogs won’t tend to roll in the poop of other dogs, they certainly do like to have a good sniff.

11. Dog Urine

dog peeing on tree
Image Credit: Sukpaiboonwat, Shutterstock

Sniffing the urine of another dog actually tells your mutt about that other dog. They can pick up information like the gender, health, and age of the other dog by taking a good sniff of their urine. It’s weird but true.

12. Horse Poop

doberman and horse
Image: Pixabay

Dogs love the smell of horse poop, so if you live on a farm, you’ve probably spotted your dog taking plenty of time sniffing the piles of fresh poop. Sometimes they’ll even take a bite!

13. Any Other Poop

Dogs pretty much love the smell of any poop from any creature. Whether it’s your cat’s litter tray, free-range chicken poop, or the poop of pigs at the local petting zoo, poop is a smell that most dogs just can’t get enough of.

14. Rotting Meat

If your dog happens across a rotting carcass while you’re out on a hike, you can be sure they’re going to spend plenty of time giving it a good old sniff. They might even decide to try and take some of it with them as a trophy — don’t let them!

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The 4 Relaxing Smells That Dogs Love

If your dog seems stressed, you can try offering them scents that might help them relax. Bear in mind that the use of essential oils around dogs should be carried out with care, as certain ones that you might think are safe could actually be toxic. So, before you try out these scents, we recommend checking with your veterinarian.

15. Vanilla

Vanilla pods
Image: Pixabay

The smell of vanilla has been shown to relax dogs kept in rehoming shelters and seemed to stop them from barking quite so much.

16. Coconut

Can Dogs Eat Coconut
Photo credit: Couleur, Pixabay

A small amount of coconut scent could help your dog sleep better and feel more chilled out.

17. Valerian

Valerian flowers
Image: Pixabay

Valerian can be used as an herbal treatment for anxiety in dogs. The smell also seems to help calm and soothe nervous dogs.

18. Ginger

Image by Joseph Mucira from Pixabay

The sweet and spicy scent of ginger can help encourage your dog to relax.


From the pleasing aroma of cooking meat to stinky skunks and everything in between, we’ve rounded up 18 of the smells that dogs love the most. Did we include your pup’s favorite?

See also: Why You Should Let Your Dog Sniff During Walks (5 Reasons)

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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