How (having) dogs benefit the planet’s ecosystem

How (having) dogs benefit the planet’s ecosystem

We all know that dogs make life more fun, right? They’re loyal, dependable, loving, devoted, and sometimes cuddly, all of which are great qualities in a best friend. While dogs are certainly beneficial for our own emotional and mental health, dogs are also helpful to the planet’s ecosystem. Here are few ways that (having) dogs benefit the earth and its diverse ecosystem to make it a better place. 

Wildlife Conservation

Dogs have an incredible nose with a sniffing ability that is said to be 10,000 to 100,000 times stronger than a human’s nose! Organizations worldwide have learned how to use a dog’s “sniffing abilities” for the greater good, including wildlife conservation.

Endangered Species

Since 1997, the University of Washington’s Conservation Canines has been training rescue dogs to sniff out the feces of threatened and endangered wildlife species (much like the narcotics detection dog methods use for airport security). These species including tigers, orcas, fishers, spotted owls, bears, wolves, jaguars, and even Pacific pocket mice.

Sniffing out the poop of these animals helps researchers examine the health and DNA of these threatened and endangered species so they can monitor population levels. 

Wildlife Crime

China’s antismuggling bureau has trained its first Labradors team to “sniff out tiger parts, elephant ivory, rhino horns and a number of other endangered species products” to help combat illegal wildlife trading. 

Illegal wildlife trading not only harms wild populations of both plants and animals but it can impact “a country’s natural resources and local communities that might otherwise benefit from tourism or legal, sustainable trade.


The continent of Africa, with its diverse and unique wildlife, is especially vulnerable to poachers. Whether it’s elephants, rhinos, or lions, organizations like the Big Life Foundation make it their job to prevent, deter and capture poachers. 

Big Life uses their rescued tracker dogs to follow scent trails that lead to poacher hideouts in and around many national parks in Africa through rhino-horn and ammunition detection.


WD4C trains dogs to detect biological threats, including invasive species of plants, animals, invertebrates, and diseases that “have an unlimited potential to self-replicate,” making them incredibly costly and dangerous to local ecosystems and the economy.

Using their enviable sniffing abilities, rescue dogs have become an “invaluable tool for protecting pristine habitats and eradicating invasive species.”

Increased Outdoor Activity

A dog’s need for exercise inevitably increases its owners’ physical activity - which is always a good thing, right? Depending on the dog’s size and energy, owners are more likely to take their pups for long walks or hikes in green spaces such as parks, beaches, mountains, or woods, depending on their location. 

This lure into nature - albeit through their dog’s physical needs - encourages more humans to get outdoors and back into nature. And we all know the mental benefits of nature: stress relief, mood boosts, enhanced creativity, plus so much more.

With a heavier reliance on the outdoors and natural spaces (partly due to their dog’s physical need for exercise), dog owners might have increased awareness and appreciation for nature, their accessibility to it, and the benefits of conserving their local natural environments. 

This awareness can have a beneficial effect on the planet when it comes time to vote on environmental policies, volunteer our time, or spread awareness to preserve our local and global ecosystem. 

Before you go…

If you want your dog to contribute more towards a sustainable and healthy ecosystem for the planet, there are actions that you as a dog owner can take! Some easy ways you can put Earth first is by:

Organizations using dog’s to better the planet’s ecosystem:


Conservation Dogs

Big Life Foundation

Conservation Canines

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