Can you say awkward?! If you have ever had a dog come up and stick their nose directly into your crotch or butt, you know the ultimate definition of the word. Even if it is not your crotch being sniffed, you may feel more than just a bit embarrassed if it is your sweet little Scruffy sniffing someone else. So, why do dogs smell your crotch? Well, experts from trainers to veterinarians, and even psychologist have weighed in on this topic. And most seem to agree about the basic reasons why dogs exhibit this uncomfortable behavior. Well, uncomfortable at least to us humans.
The Root of the Behavior
As far as dog behaviors go the sniffing of your crotch is definitely not one that you feel like bragging to your friends about. Your embarrassment aside, most experts agree that a dog sniffing at your privates or your butt is completely natural and instinctive. Dogs often smell the rear end of other dogs as a sort of ‘handshake’ with one another. It is a form of dog to dog communication and is possibly their way of just saying Hi or getting a status update from one another. Since greeting other dogs this way is natural, your pooch doesn’t know that greeting humans, in the same way, is a bit disconcerting to you.
You may already be aware of the fact that your dog has a very keen sense of smell. But do you know just how strong that sniffer of theirs is? Experts have noted that a dog’s sense of smell can range anywhere from 40 times to 100,000 times stronger than yours. We humans have around 5 million odor receptors, and with dogs, the number is more like 220 million! With such a strong sense of smell, it is no surprise that canines use their nose as a main form of communication.
Just like when Scruffy sniffs the behind of another pup to gain information about them the same is true for when they sniff at the privates of a person. Humans have many different scent glands within our genital area. Given this information, it makes sense that a dog will sniff around that area to find out all they can about you. They are especially nosey when a person who has more complex smells present. This could be due to the fact that you recently had sex, a woman who is menstruating or just gave birth, or if someone is pregnant. The dog is simply seeking more information about the individual.
Encouraging the Behavior
You will find that the opinions on whether or not to discourage this behavior are a bit varied. However, most experts do say that a little crotch sniffing is nothing to worry about. If it becomes a bigger issue, or your dog seems to think it is their job to sniff everyone you meet, a little intervention may be needed. Your dog may be your baby, but remember that they are not human. And since sniffing is natural to them it will take a little effort on your part to help them realize the same is not true with people.
Also, keep in mind that since dogs have such a strong sense of smell they can detect scents from 3 to 4 feet away. But being that dogs are just being dogs, they want to get their nose as close as possible to the new smell. The extreme closeness is not necessary for your pup to be able to gain the information they need. One of your jobs as the pack leader is to determine what is good for your pack members. While the actual act of sniffing private areas may be natural and not harmful, it can be quite off-putting to your family and friends. Allowing your pup to make others uncomfortable can lead to them not wanting to be around you or your fur baby.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Being consistent with however you choose to hand crotch sniffing is key to your pup learning what is acceptable behavior. Be firm, but be kind. And don’t forget the rewards. ‘Pawsitive’ reinforcement is always encouraged and usually brings about the best results. As pack leader don’t be shy about taking charge and correcting unwanted behavior.