Your dog loves you — and the way you smell. Like on a deep, physiological level.
Dogs. They’re just the best. All you have to do is walk into a room and they light up. Every. Single. Time.
Guess what? It’s because they really do love you. And because your scent triggers the pleasure centers in their brains! A study by Gregory Berns at Emory University showed that an area of the brain associated with the positive experiences and rewards (the caudate nucleus) was triggered simply by a gauze pad swabbed with the scent of their human.
“It’s one thing when you come home and your dog sees you and jumps on you and licks you and knows that good things are about to happen. In our experiment, however, the scent donors were not physically present. That means the canine brain responses were being triggered by something distant in space and time.”
- Gregory Berns, Neuroeconomist, Emory University Four more favorite scents We know that dogs are super sniffers – their strongest scent is olfactory. So, why not use something as simple as a favorite scent to help calm them in times of anxiety or restlessness? A team of British researchers had the same thought. They conducted a study on shelter dogs, testing the effects of four scents: vanilla, coconut, valerian, and ginger. All four scents reduced the dogs’ level of vocalizing (barking, growling, or whining). And also decreased the time spent pacing or moving around their space (restlessness). During exposure to the coconut and ginger samples, the dogs spent an increased amount of time sleeping. To introduce these scents at home, you can purchase a high-quality essential oil in each scent and dab a drop or two (don’t overwhelm them!) onto a cloth. See how they respond. If they’re into it, try adding a drop or two to their favorite bandana or a small towel you can add to their bed. Vanilla and coconut are also delicious to us humans. Try a blend of the two in your bedside diffuser so you can both enjoy! Oh! And here’s one more fun fact for the road – most dogs strongly dislike the smell of citrus. (Sorry, oranges.)