Updated at: 25-12-2021 - By: petexpert

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.


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.

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.

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:





New foods.


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.

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:




Retained baby teeth.

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:


Paw lifting.



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:


House soiling.

Changes in activity.

Altered social interactions.

Sleep-wake cycle disturbance.

He Picked Up Another Dog’s or Animal’s Scent

All dogs will be interested in the scent of another animal. If there’s another dog nearby, then your dog could be sniffing the air because he’s trying to figure out who it is. Likewise, if your dog picks up the smell of another animal other than dogs, then that’s something he’ll probably be pretty interested in too.

All dogs have a prey drive—in some dogs the prey drive is just stronger than in others. If your dog smells another critter nearby, then his prey drive could be triggered. He might be sniffing the air because he’s trying to track down what and where that other animal is!

He Smells Food

As a general rule, dogs love food! And since your dog’s sense of smell is so strong, he’ll be able to smell food even from far away.

Whether it’s your dog’s next meal that he’s sniffing or someone else’s being prepared in your house, your dog will be pretty interested in whatever’s going on.

Context will, of course, help you determine if this is why your dog is sniffing. Is someone cooking? Or are you preparing your dog’s food bowl? That’s probably why he’s sniffing the air.


Sniffing the air is one thing. But when you combine your dog’s air sniffing with licking, that can be really confusing. There are a few reasons why your dog might be doing this. First, he might be licking because he’s hungry. Bear in mind that your dog’s sense of smell is very closely connected to his sense of taste.

If he smells food, he might start licking because he’s getting ready to eat! Excessive licking can also be a sign of stress or anxiety. Your dog might have picked up on a smell that’s making him nervous, like another dog.


Your dog is your best friend. But that doesn’t mean you understand everything that he does! There are many behaviors that dogs perform that are so different from our own that they can be pretty confusing.

Dogs sniffing the air is very normal behavior for dogs, but it might seem weird to us! But once you understand how powerful a dog’s sense of smell is, it makes sense that he’s sniffing around so much. He’s just smelling something that you’re not aware of!

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