Why Is My Dog Sniffing The Air And Looking Up?

Reviewed By Kyoko •  Updated: 04/06/22 •  7 min read
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Why Is My Dog Sniffing The Air And Looking Up

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Have you ever noticed your dog sniffing the air and looking up? Many pet parents wonder what’s going on and if there’s a problem when their dog acts like this! It can seem pretty strange to us; however, there are some reasons that a dog might act in this way!

We’ve put together some information about what can cause a dog to look up and sniff the air. Let’s get started!

Dog’s Have Sensitive Noses

Before we get started, it’s essential to understand how a dog’s nose works. This has something to do (sometimes) with why your dog may look up and sniff the air!

Dogs have a highly developed sense of smell. They can smell scents that we don’t even notice! Why is that? Because dogs have over 300 million smell receptors in their noses, while we have about 6 million. That’s a huge difference. And it’s the reason a dog’s nose can smell 10,000 to 100,000 times better than our noses!

In addition, the dog’s brain is also geared to detecting scents or smells. We have a similar part of the brain that works in the same way. However, the dog’s brain used for smelling is 40 times bigger than ours!

One more interesting note is that a dog’s nose separates air into that used for breathing and air for sniffing. This is done with the small fold that you can see inside each of your dog’s nostrils. Who knew?

These are some interesting facts that can play into why your dog looks up and sniffs the air!

Why Does My Dog Look Up and Sniff the Air?

Here are some of the main reasons your dog may be looking up and sniffing the air!

1. Your Dog Smells Food

There are times when you’re cooking, and you may notice your dog looking up and sniffing. Or maybe someone’s baking a yummy cake, or they’ve opened a bag of dog treats. So, your dog may look up and sniff the air to see what’s going on!

Dogs are highly driven by food and get excited when they smell something they love to eat! What’s more, the dog may even get a “taste” of the food tastes like through sniffing the air. How could is that?

In addition, your dog may be trying to trace where the smell of food is coming from. This is a common behavior in dogs and other animals.

In this case, there’s nothing to worry about! Your dog is just acting naturally!

2. Your Dog Smells Another Dog’s Scent

You may be reading in the living room, with the windows open, or sitting on the patio. A walker with their dog goes by, and your dog suddenly stands up and sniffs the air. Your dog has probably smelled the other dog’s scent, even if he can’t see the dog.

Dogs have the ability to smell other dogs from a distance. And when this happens, they may become excited, or they may try to see if that’s their friend they smell. Dogs have a great memory for smells and recognize another dog (or person) they’ve not seen for quite a while!

Your dog may be trying to discern if this is a dog he knows. But he can also tell other things about this dog just from the scent. Your dog may be able to discern what the other dog ate, where the dog has been, and more.

This is also natural behavior and is nothing to worry about!

3. Your Dog is Bored

Another reason that a dog may look up and sniff is that he’s bored. He may be bored from being home alone for many hours during the day. Your canine companion may also not have had enough exercise. Or he may not have enough to keep his mind stimulated.

If your dog is bored, he might look up and smell the air. This is one of the ways a dog may try to find the stimulation his mind needs. What’s more, he may have a ton of pent-up energy that needs to be released in some way.

You may notice other signs that your dog is bored, such as:

These can be signs that a dog is bored. If so, then it’s essential to take him out on walks, play with him, and provide stimulating dog toys for him to play with. Spending time with your fur baby can also help.

4. Your Dog Could Be Nervous

Another reason that dogs look up and sniff the air is that they’re nervous. They’re stressed and may also pace as they sniff the air. Dogs that are nervous may also show other signs, including:

Many things can make a dog nervous and it can take some detective work to determine what’s causing the problem. Your dog could be nervous because:

However, there are some health issues that may also make a dog act nervous. So, if you can’t determine what’s causing your dog to feel stressed, then it may be a good idea to make an appointment with the vet.

5. Your Dog is Listening to Something

Dogs may sometimes look in the air and sniff if they’re listening to something. The dog uses his senses to gather information, including his hearing.

Our canine companions are curious about what’s going on in their environment. This is why some dogs are great watchdogs. They are alert to all types of changes, even smells. Canines have extremely sensitive hearing, too. It’s through their senses that dogs learn about their world and what’s happening in it!

Did you know dogs can hear sounds from about 13 miles away? Is that a super sense or what?

When a dog hears something interesting, he may become very curious. Along with his hearing, the dog then uses his nose to gather even more information about what he’s heard. They then use all this information to determine what is they’re hearing and smelling. Is it another dog? Is there a wild animal near the house? Has your fur baby heard “his” kids in the neighborhood?

So, if your dog is looking up and sniffing the air, he could be gathering more information to go along with something interesting he’s heard! And there’s nothing to worry about, as this is normal canine behavior.

Summing It Up

Most of the time, when you see your dog looking up and sniffing the air, he’s probably just smelled something interesting. He may also be gathering additional information about what’s happening in his neighborhood! You never know! However, this is normal dog behavior.

If you ever notice your dog looking up and sniffing, combined with some odd behaviors or physical symptoms, then it’s best to call the vet. Your fur baby may have a health issue that needs to be checked!

Otherwise, looking up and sniffing is just normal dog stuff!

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Kyoko is from a family of 3 and moved to New York with her parents and siblings when she was 13. Kyoko is fond of spending a great amount of time with pets, specifically her beagle Luna and cat Missy. Her boyfriend often complains that she spends too much time giving attention to their animals. Kyoko has written dozens of articles concerning pets and is aiming at owning a pet shop one day!