The Root of the Behavior
Did you know that dogs use their noses to explore the world and you? The odor-processing part of a dog’s brain is four times more sensitive than that of a human's. Because of this, Duke’s nose magnifies those smells emanating from men and lady parts. Another reason why dogs sniff people's private parts comes down to sweat glands. There are two types of sweat glands, which are eccrine and apocrine. The eccrine glands are located all over your skin and produce sweat which is responsible for regulating body temperature, while the apocrine glands are primarily located in your smelliest areas: armpits and crotches. It turns out that dogs can actually pick up on the pheromone chemical that your sweaty private parts produce, and pheromones hold a lot of information about ourselves: our diets, moods, health, even whether a female is pregnant or menstruating. Duke is curious, and believe it or not; your crotch provides a lot of answers about what kind of person Duke is dealing with.
In some instances, your hormones make your private parts even more evident and spark Duke’s curiosity further if you have just had intercourse, are breastfeeding, along with the situations stated above of being pregnant or on your period. During these times, Duke will be even more curious, and you might have to let him know that invading your crotch is just not okay. Another time Duke might be more attracted to lady and man parts are right after you use the bathroom. In this case, Duke might smell the aftermath of your urine and then attempt to lick you in order to help you clean up. He is trying to look out for you, you know. Even though it is natural for Duke to be attracted to your genitals, it could be an annoying habit that you want to nip in the bud. If this is the case, there are ways to control this innate need for dogs to sniff private parts.
Encouraging the Behavior
A little sniffing is okay but if it becomes excessive and Duke is constantly sniffing your privates, it might be time to alleviate the embarrassment and set some boundaries and/or get a trainer involved. One common way to stop your dog from sniffing your neighbor’s crotch is to redirect him. When you know company is coming over, get ready to ask Duke to sit when your guest arrives. Once your guest gets settled down, make sure you offer Duke treats throughout the visit, so he is more focused on the treats than your guest’s crotch. Make sure you are consistent with your expectations and let Duke know that humans are the alpha dogs in the situations in which he wants to sniff their private parts. Sometimes dogs sniff private human parts for the same reason that they sniff their doggy friend’s privates: to show dominance. Make sure that Duke knows that sniffing behavior is not okay by also saying, “No!” and not allowing him to proceed, especially with your guests. Tell your guest not to back up and instead, move forward and claim his/her space. This will let Duke know that he is not in charge, and your guest needs to be respected.
Other Solutions and Considerations
As with any other dog behavior, if Duke’s invasion of genitals becomes overly excessive and out of control, monitor the behavior, and although rare, do not rule out OCD or extreme anxiety. Normally though, dogs just like to sniff private parts because of the pheromones that provide them with an abundance of information. But if you are sick of Duke sniffing your crotch or anyone else’s crotch, there are some solutions to keep in mind. One is to coat the smell by using a spray that has an odor Duke does not like. Yes, there are actually sprays for this on the market, such as bitter apple. Just spritz some on your pants if you do not mind smelling a bit different down there. But this might be a weird request for your neighbor, so another option is setting concrete boundaries and redirecting your dog’s smelling behavior. You can do this with treats and firm, No’s!” that let Duke know that he needs to lay off the genital sniffing.