Does your dog smell you when you come home? Does he give you a good sniffing over from top to toe as though you're the most interesting thing he's come across all week? It's funny how they do that, isn't it?
Has your pup just started smelling you the moment you walked through the front door? Was he snuffling at you so hard it seemed as if he were actually trying to vacuum any lingering scents from your clothes? It makes you wonder if you might have spilled something down you even when you are pretty sure you haven't, doesn't it? Or is it that he just likes your particular brand of cologne?
That seems quite doubtful, doesn't it? So why do dogs smell you when you come home?
The Root of the Behavior
It is quite a common thing for dogs to smell you when you come home. Smells, or scents if you prefer to call them that, inhaled by your pup through his twitching nostrils are translated into a rich source of information in his brain. Exactly what they tell him, well, only he truly knows, but smelling you is his way of finding out what was going on where ever you've been while away from him.
When your dog goes into a serious sniffing frenzy which is focused directly on you, it can be quite disconcerting. While he is going a bit overboard, it can actually make you wonder if you have been walking around stinking of something you had not noticed and everyone else has. Don't worry too much, because what he is smelling is more than likely completely undetectable to a human nose.
Consider the fact that your dog loves you beyond reason. If you have just arrived home after a few hours away, he will have been starved of your company for a while. He will also have missed your personal odor which is special to him even though us sensory poor humans don't even notice we have one. You could compare it to a feline's love of catnip. When he is smelling you enthusiastically, what he could be doing is getting a good dose of your scent to reassure himself that, yes, it is you and he's enjoying filling his senses with a scent he is so fond of.
Let's face it, dogs are clever and often quite wily creatures. They really don't miss a trick. How many times have you arrived home and greeted your pup with not only lots of affection, but with a treat or two as well? Dog's have excellent memories and he is not likely to forget that tasty titbit you presented him the last time you walked through the door. If your dog smells you all over when you come home, he may well be searching for what he thinks you might have hidden in your pocket for him.
Encouraging the Behavior
If you have a large or overly energetic dog who goes on a serious smelling spree every time you come home, it can make getting in the house difficult. You don't particularly need to have a large dog, as even a Yorkshire Terrier or a Chihuahua jumping up your legs can cause unintentional havoc. If you have your arms full of purchases from the grocery store and your pup is circling around your ankles sniffing at your shoes, he can cause you to trip. In a worse case scenario, never mind breaking the eggs or squashing the bread you've just bought, you could end up in the hospital with a broken arm or leg.
It is always great to be greeted with enthusiasm when you walk through the door and to know that your dog has missed you while you have been gone. But some dog's really don't like being left alone and it causes them a great deal of stress and anxiety every time you leave them. In some cases, your dog can even become obsessed with you and his smelling you when you come home can border on hysteria which, from your position, can be very difficult to control. It is also upsetting for you as a pet owner to know your pup has been pining for you while you're not there.
Other Solutions and Considerations
If you think your dog may have developed an obsession with you and is suffering from anxiety every time you leave him, you might want to consider consulting a professional dog trainer. They will be able to advise you on specific techniques which will help your pet learn to deal with his separation issues. We often unwittingly teach our dogs bad habits in all innocence. If your dog goes over the top smelling you when you come home because he is seeking out treats, try taking a few training sessions with a qualified dog handler. They will be able to correct your mistakes and show you the way to make coming home a pleasure instead of you having to go through an intensive canine pat down every time you walk through the door.
While it is normal for a dog to smell you when you come home, they can sometimes get a bit carried away with their sniffing. But just think, although you might be uncomfortable being your dog's personal catnip, it is much better to be sniffed than not to be sniffed at all because nobody likes to be ignored.
Written by a Chihuahua lover Liz Correal
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 03/06/2018, edited: 01/30/2020