Smell and Territoriality
People prefer to learn by seeing. 80 % of what sighted people know is learned by seeing. Smell is the least important of the human senses.
The situation for dogs is nearly opposite. 60 % of what they learn is by smelling. And their sense of smell is so keen they can tell that a specific person walked down the street in front of my house five hours ago!
Most mammals have olfactory type brains. They are intensely interested in odors, and also discriminate smells that people can’t detect. They learn to distinguish all the individuals of every species that live in their vicinity, primarily by smell.
Animals have special ways of emitting odors, too. For example, there are interdigital scent glands in the feet of dogs, which produce a chemical footprint wherever the dog steps. Perianal glands add to the smelliness of feces. And their urine is strong smelling on purpose.
Each species of animal has characteristic ways of deploying these odors. For example, coyote often leave feces on top of rocks in the trails at MdO; these piles of excrement mark the boundaries of their hunting territories. Rabbits drop fecal pellets all over their territories in order to confuse predators as to where they may be hiding.
There is a night shift and a day shift among the animals. Skunks, raccoons and badgers are active at night. We humans are definitely on the day shift, along with dogs, coyotes, foxes and deer. Together, these animals use the same territories, but at different times of day.
Being diurnal, let’s say you are hiking on a Saturday, and someone came jogging through with a Saint Bernard three days before. What are your chances of seeing a coyote on that trail?
Being easy going, the coyote trots the trail every other day, hunting rabbits. On Thursday the 45 pound coyote discovers the scent of a 125 pound carnivore that peed twice as high on a trail sign post as the coyote can. Not wishing to confront such a large carnivore, the coyote immediately moves out of the area, and does not explore there again for six weeks.