Researchers recorded and tracked the pulse rates in dogs. The results of this study found that when dogs sniffed, their pulse rate lowered. Cristina & Aurélien BudzIinsk, the researchers, looked at the amount of time dogs spent sniffing on different length leashes and being off-leash, while on a walk. The dogs on the longer leashes or off-leash sniffed more, resulting in lower heart rates, an indicator of being calm. Yet another reason to let them explore and sniff! We advocate letting your canine companion sniff the way or lead the way on a loose leash walk.
Another activity effective in decreasing their heart rate was shaking off. This is the behavior we would see after a bath when they shake their entire bodies. When dogs are dry and they "shake off" that is a self-calming behavior that actively lowers the heart rate. The shaking behavior and the associated declines in pulse rates happened regardless of leash length.
We have only relayed a very brief overview of the research. If you would like to learn more, this link gives you the details of the study.
An activity that we have not studied, but think is likely, is that if you enroll in our Agility for Fun Class your canine's pulse will likely increase :) Join us on April 16th for a bit of fun as well as physical and cognitive challenges.