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Why Is My Dog Sniffing The Air And Looking Up? 13 Reasons

Why Is My Dog Sniffing The Air And Looking Up

Your pooch has a strange habit.

They sniff the air while having this dazed look in their eyes.

You might be wondering what that’s all about.

So you look up where they’re looking. And you see… nothing. 

Are they seeing things that you don’t?

“Why are they sniffing the air?”

Read on to discover:

  • Fun facts about a dog’s nose and eyes. 
  • Serious diseases that may cause this behavior. 
  • 13 unexpected reasons why your dog is sniffing the air and looking up. 
  • And many more…

Why is my dog sniffing the air and looking up?

Your dog is sniffing the air and looking up because they’re investigating, nervous, understimulated, or hearing something. Or they smell food, another dog, a person, or rainfall. They may also suffer from OCD, CCD, dental or gastrointestinal problems. Or they might just like the burst of wind. 

13 reasons why your dog is sniffing the air and looking up

#1: Your pooch is understimulated

Take note of your answers to these questions:

Has your dog been inactive lately?

Are they left alone at home for hours?

Or does your pooch have nothing else to do at home?

If your answer’s ‘yes’ to any, then your dog is under-stimulated. And might also be the cause why they sniff the air.

Stimulation is very important for a dog’s well-being. And also keeps them fit and happy.

So, if your pooch doesn’t have enough stimulation, that may lead to problems. And that is when dogs develop strange habits.

Sniffing the air while looking up is just one of many.

The reason?

Under stimulation will cause dogs to have excess energy. Which will make them do odd things to pour it out.

Aside from that, it may also cause dogs to have negative behaviors such as:

  • Whining.
  • Disobedience.
  • Excessive barking.
  • Destructive behavior.

Check out next: Do Dogs Get Tired Of Barking? The Truth + 7 Anti-Barking Tips

#2: The wind breeze is soothing for your dog’s nose

Observe your pooch when this air sniffing behavior occurs.

Are they sniffing by the window?

Are they doing this outside on a chilly night?

Or do they sniff the air while both of you are on a walk?

If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to one, more, or all these questions, your pooch might like the wind. Particularly the smell of it and how it feels to their nose.

“But…what’s to like about it?”

Well, for starters, the air carries a lot of scents. 

And your dog with an incredible sense of smell may detect them. If they happen to like it, they’ll sniff it often.

Plus, Fido needs to breathe fresh air just like you. Actually letting them sniff the fresh air has its benefits and these are:

  • Purifying blood cells.
  • Removing body impurities.
  • Soothing the body’s nerves. 
  • Enhancing your dog’s appetite.
  • Improving the overall health immunity.

#3: Fido is nervous 

Sniffing The Air And Looking Up Nervous Dog

Sniffing in dogs may also mean that they’re in a stressful situation. And it causes them to be nervous.

This will be the case if your dog sniffs the air and also keeps on pacing.

Observe if this behavior is being repeated. Because a study shows that stress in dogs causes them to display repetitive behavior. This may also come with:

  • Grooming.
  • Paw lifting.
  • Vocalizing.
  • Coprophagia.

“What could make my pooch nervous?”

Observe your surroundings. Spot signs that can cause your dog’s nervousness.

Because they might’ve heard or smelled something that triggered the emotion. It could be near your dog, inside or outside your house.

There are many possible nervous triggers for your pooch. Here are some of them:

Watch out for signs of nervousness in dogs. Such as:

  • Yawning.
  • Leans back. 
  • Large pupils. 
  • Flattened ears.
  • Lowers the head. 
  • Wrinkled forehead. 
  • Tucked tail behind the hind legs.

#4: Your pooch is hearing something 

Being curious has always been a part of a dog’s nature.

And what causes this is mainly their sensitive senses. Particularly their senses of smell and hearing.

Wanna know something interesting about a dog’s hearing?

Dogs are able to hear sounds from 20 km away. 

So, when dogs hear something far away, they’ll be curious. They’ll investigate what causes the noise.

Is it an animal?

Is it children from your neighborhood?

Dogs can only analyze what they hear with the help of their nose.

A dog’s most prominent sense is their sense of smell. They’re able to smell 10,000 up to 100,000 times better than us.

And just like humans, they have an olfactory system in their brains. Which helps in decoding scents. Only that it’s 40 times greater in dogs.

So, that may be the reason why your dog sniffs the air. Say they heard noises coming from the outside. And they’re trying to find out what causes it through sniffing.

Reading tip: 17 Reasons Why Your Dog Looks Up At The Ceiling + 5 Tips

#5: Your dog is detecting a rainfall 

Does your dog sniff the air before the rain starts pouring?

If so, then they could be sensing a change in the air pressure. And detect a storm that’s coming.

And that may cause you to sniff the air while looking up. They might be trying to tell if it’s going to rain or not.

Your pooch might do this to prepare themselves. It’s because some of them are very sensitive to the sound of raindrops and thunder. What’s worse, storm phobia may occur in dogs.

Storm phobia refers to the extreme fear of thunder, rain, or the loud hush of wind. It makes dogs become anxious during storms.

Which affects a dog’s behavior when rain is present. You might see them staying in closed spaces. Such as hiding in the bathroom.

A storm phobic dog may:

  • Panic.
  • Panting.
  • Whining.
  • Shivering.
  • Urinating.
  • Defecating.

You might also want to check out: 9 Weird Reasons Why Your Dog Barks When It Rains + 7 Tips

#6: Your dog is investigating something up there

Dog's Investigating Something

Dogs may also sniff the air if they see something interesting. It could be a bug on your ceiling. Or other insects flying across the room.

This might be the case if they stare at one certain place. And then started sniffing the air.

Your pooch might just be doing this to investigate the things up above. As I’ve said earlier, they study everything through smell.

So, you may try looking at where your dog stares as they sniff. Find out if there’s something interesting that may cause this behavior to occur.

#7: Your fur pal smells food 

Is there someone cooking an aromatic dish near you?

Or did someone just open a bag of treats?

If yes, then that might cause your dog to sniff the air.

This is more likely to happen if your dog often shows excitement when they see food.

Your dog will then sniff to absorb all the yumminess in the air. As it gives your canine an idea of what the food would taste like. So your pooch might be trying to trace it.

Study shows that odors affect how 44 out of 69 dogs choose their food. A strong odor causes dogs to not eat the food.

#8: Your canine detects another dog’s scent 

Try to look outside your window. Observe if there are some dogs walking or playing around.

Because this might cause your dog to sniff the air suddenly.

Since your dog can smell further things. They can detect dogs even far from your home.

And when they do, it might spark their excitement. Or they could be trying to tell if it’s their friends who they smell.

Dogs are able to recall if they’ve seen a certain dog before through sniffing them. The same goes for humans outside of the family they’ve interacted with.

It’s because pooches have a great scent memory.

They can still remember any dogs even after years of not seeing them. And they can do this through a dog’s body smell.

Just like people, every dog has their own unique scent. And their own particular scent is what dogs use to identify them.

Also, by sniffing, dogs may also tell:

  • The food they last ate.
  • What the other dogs did.
  • Where the other dog went. 

#9: Your dog is sensing a person 

Your dog might not only detect food when they’re sniffing the air. But also when they sense people near or approaching.

Just like the previous reason, try to look around if there are people passing by your house at the moment. Because it might be your dog’s air sniffing trigger.

Now, it may also occur when someone from your family comes home. 

Let me give an example from a video.

2 dogs suddenly started sniffing the air after they entered their house. The pooches started hopping while sniffing the air. 

Exactly how an excited dog would do. Especially when they detected that their owner was home. After 2 months of being away from them.

You can see for yourself here:

Fun fact: Did you know that dogs can find and save people by their smell? There are dogs who’re bred to find people by sniffing their body scents. These dogs are called search dogs.

Search dogs help professionals in search and rescue operations. They make the job of finding people to rescue easier.

And there are different types of search dogs. Which include:

Air scent dogs

Which refers to search dogs that detect scents by the air. This is uncommon in scent tracking. Because others usually smell the ground. 

They find people’s location by following their scent through the wind.

This technique is known as the air scenting technique. Which is suitable in a wide range of searches and rescues.

Trailing or tracking dogs

Trailing dogs will locate one certain person. They’ll either follow the path where the person went or not.

These types of search dogs rely more on sniffing the ground. So there’s a limitation when they’re searching. Such as the harsh blow of wind. And a sudden change in the temperature.

Human Remains Detection Cadaver or HRD dogs

These scent dogs locate particularly dead bodies. Which includes:

  • Hair.
  • Body tissues. 
  • Human blood.
  • Skeletal remains.
  • Decomposed bodies. 
  • Buried or submerged victims. 

Disaster dogs

These dogs should be physically strong. And are able to do the air scenting technique. They help in finding people in:

  • Floods.
  • Mudslides.
  • Earthquakes.
  • Collapsed buildings.

Avalanche dogs 

When an avalanche happens, it’s hard for rescuers to manually find people. So, they use avalanche dogs to help them.

And they’re able to sniff people’s scents even in cold temperatures. They’ll even dig snow to find people.

Water dogs 

Scent dogs don’t only locate people by smelling the air and ground. They can also follow scents in the water. 

Dogs are able to do this because odors in the water rise.  And that’s where dogs can access the scents.

Note: The capability of the dog is dependent upon its training.

#10: It’s caused by obsessive compulsive disorder

Sad to say, air sniffing in dogs may also be caused by medical conditions. And one of them is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

This refers to a condition where a dog develops repetitive and strange behavior. Which they often use as a coping mechanism to their stress.

This behavior only occurs all of a sudden. And dogs can’t control how to start and stop it.

Let’s say your storm phobic dog is left alone at home. And then there’s a sudden thunderstorm. Which will trigger their stress.

Now, your dog might start sniffing the air to feel relieved. If they happen to find comfort in it, that’s where OCD starts to develop.

OCD may be brought on by factors such as:

  • Genetic.
  • Physical.
  • Neurological.
  • Environmental

#11: Canine cognitive dysfunction

Another condition that may cause this behavior is CCD.

Canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) mostly affects older pooches. But may also occur at any age.

This condition refers to mental alteration. Which is a canine version of a human’s dementia.

And since it affects a dog’s way of thinking. They might result in air sniffing for no reason at all.

They won’t even know why they’re doing that.

Aside from air sniffing, dogs may also display behavioral changes such as:

  • Disorientation.
  • House soiling.
  • Changes in activity.
  • Altered social interactions.
  • Sleep-wake cycle disturbance.

#12: Dental problems

Have you been taking good care of your dog’s teeth?

Think about this. 

Dental problems may cause excessive drooling. As well as the overproduction of saliva. 

And if that happens, dogs may sniff the air while looking up. By positioning their head up, they’re restricting the fluids to flow. 

PDSA says that dental disease is a very common problem in pooches. Mostly due to a lack of tooth brushing but also due to:

  • Age.
  • Diet.
  • Breed.
  • Retained baby teeth. 

To prevent this, it’s best to visit your dog’s dentist regularly. It’ll help in keeping their dental healthy. 

Some symptoms of dental disease in dogs include:

  • Weight loss.
  • A swelling face.
  • Plaque and tartar.
  • Excessive drooling.
  • Blood stained saliva.
  • Halitosis (bad breath).
  • Pawing the mouth and face. 
  • Red, inflamed, bleeding gums.
  • Wobbly, missing or broken teeth.
  • Pain or difficulty in chewing/eating.

#13: Gastrointestinal disease

The last medical cause on the list that causes air sniffing in dogs is gastroenteritis. 

VCA says that gastroenteritis refers to the inflammation of the stomach and intestines. 

Which causes diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain in dogs. And this makes them stretch their heads as the pain hits. 

So, it may appear that your dog is sniffing the air and looking up. When in fact, it’s an effect of their GI disease. 

This condition may be caused by infection with:

  • Viruses.
  • Bacteria.
  • Parasites. 
  • New foods. 
  • Medications. 

Note: Bring your pooch to the vet if you’re suspecting underlying medical causes. It’s best and it’ll help your dog to be diagnosed correctly. And be treated with proper medication right away.