Why Do Dogs Love Snow?
Dogs Love a Changed Environment
Why do dogs love snow so much? It’s a question even the Scientific American tried to answer. (More about that, after the jump.) The answer seems to be simple: snow is new and different. Or more accurately it makes their environment appear new and different.
Dogs are neophiles. They love to experience news things. I’ve definitely noticed that with Bodhi. With very few exceptions he prefers new toys to old. Clark and I both think he enjoys walks down new streets, and maybe even more telling, he notices new things on old walks. And when it snows, he goes bonkers! It’s like he’s in a completely new world where everything looks, feels, and most importantly, smells different.
My Facebook friend Amy Frost-Behrens says the same thing about her rescue Maggie Mae. Amy said, after a some initial hestitation, Maggie Mae dove into her first snow like an enthusiastic kid:
“She realized this could be fun. She really starting liking the big piles of snow that we were building from shoveling! That was all she needed … us and a snow mound! She started running forwards and then backwards. Maggie also realized she could eat the snow as well! This was really becoming an awesome day! Maggie started to dig into the pile of snow. It was like an never ending mound. With a beginning and almost no ending! She was barking and jumping and loving it all …”
My favorite writer about all-things-dog, Alexandra Horowitz, had this to say about dogs and snow in an article posted recently on the Scientific American website:
“My dogs both do find the snow to be the bee’s knees, as have all my dogs — at least until the icy patches form between their toes. The question of ‘why’ is a bit imponderable, but if I must ponder I’d say that here, dogs might be more like us than we’d expect: there is a pleasure in a changed landscape, a topography re-shaped by fallen snow. Dogs like the ‘new’, of course, and what could be more new than their entire world covered with this icy blanket. Smell is changed, too, and we can for a moment see some of the otherwise invisible markings (like tracks or urine) which are so engaging for dogs.”
John Bradshaw, a Visiting Fellow at the University of Bristol and the author of Dog Sense, wrote in Scientific American:
“I suspect that part of the answer lies in how quickly dogs habituate to objects that they play with. Snow changes the sensory characteristics of everything it touches — visual appearance, obviously, but also, and perhaps more importantly, scent. Thus snow has the potential to renew a dog’s interest in its (over-?) familiar surroundings, and switch on exploratory behaviour.”
That’s definitely something I’ve noticed about Bodhi; his already keen sense of smell seems super-charged in the snow. Everything appears to smell REALLY good.
You can learn what other dog experts had to say about why dogs love snow in Scientific American.