Because it's vital for dogs to understand the world around them, and because they do that through their sense of smell, they're certainly able to smell our hormones - testosterone levels included.
Are you curious how to tell if your dog is sniffing out testosterone levels in men? Do you want a better understanding of how dogs are able to sniff out testosterone in the first place? Read on!
Signs Your Dog Can Smell Changes in Testosterone
Male dogs, who also harbor quite a bit of testosterone, will likely view the rise in human testosterone as a competition for the alpha male status. This could cause your male dog to act aggressively, bare their teeth, howl, bark, snap, or bite in order to maintain dominance.
Additionally, the male dog in the house might prevent the human male (with the increased levels of testosterone) from getting too close to female humans or dogs in the household.
That being said, female dogs will likely have a different reaction to the increase in testosterone. A female dog might gravitate toward the man with rising testosterone as instincts would indicate that they are the alpha in the home. The female might also try to prevent human females from getting close to the human males, acting out with barking, biting, howling, or nipping.
- Tail tucking
- Female dogs gravitating toward the man with the high levels of testosterone
- Male dogs fighting for alpha male status
- Aggressive behavior
- Extra attention on the person with hormone changes
The History of Using Dogs to Sniff Out Anabolic Steroids
One of the best examples of this is the Connecticut State Police K-9 Unit, which has been training their dogs since 2009 to detect steroids. They do this by training their dogs to sniff out a scent they're most familiar with - testosterone. Although steroids are composed of dozens of different substances ranging from anavar to winstrol, they're able to detect the specific testosterone scent and find anabolic steroids.
The Science of Dogs Smelling Testosterone
Inside your nose, you have about 6 million smell receptors. It sounds like a lot, right? Well, it's not when you consider that dogs have about 300 million such receptors in their noses. That being said, your dog can smell a lot more acutely than you can. Because of this, dogs can detect scents from certain hormones.
When we're fearful, anxious, sad, or when our bodies are producing specific hormones (like estrogen or testosterone), our bodies release chemicals along with those hormones, and that's what your dog is able to smell. Dogs are also just highly sensitive to human hormones in association with their behavior.
According to Dr. Joanne Sillince, managing director of Pets Australia, there's a general belief in the veterinary community that dogs are able to detect, at a subconscious level, changes in human hormones not just based on their ability to smell the changes.
Training Your Dog to Detect Steroids Based on Testosterone
That being said, the training portion of this is simple and formulaic. Drug-sniffing dogs typically start their training by learning that playing with a certain toy counts as a reward or positive feedback. Once your dog understands this concept, you can start training. Begin associating your dog's favorite toy with the particular smell you want your dog to track down. Make sure the smell is so associated with the toy that the two almost get confused.
Next, hide the toy and the smell somewhere and train your pup to give you a signal when they locate it. Reward them with playtime with their toy. Gradually make the hiding spots harder, and eventually, remove the toy, just hiding the scent alone. When your dog is able to do this consistently without the toy, they've been trained to detect the scent!
How to React if Your Dog is Detecting Changing Testosterone Levels:
Do not punish your dog for alerting you to your bodily changes.
Train your dog that no matter what testosterone level, you're the alpha male.
Train your dog that aggression will not be tolerated.
Train your dog that nosing into areas they don't belong is not okay.