Why Is My Dog So Obsessed With Sniffing People's Privates?
Do you ever go to greet your dog, but instead of sweet kisses on your face you’re met with a nose in your ... ahem ... privates?
Well, you’re not alone.
It turns out those embarrassing encounters are actually pretty common when it comes to dogs.
The Dodo spoke with Dr. Vanessa Spano, a vet with Behavior Vets in New York City, to find out what’s up with your dog’s awkward obsession with smelling your crotch.
Why your dog loves sniffing privates
A dog’s sense of smell is super strong, and they tend to get a lot of information about their surroundings through sniffing.
Their surroundings include the dogs — and people — around them.
“Dogs can detect certain substances at a concentration of 1/1000th that which humans detect,” Dr. Spano told The Dodo. “They thus use olfactory cues to gain information about the person, or dog, they are interacting with.”
But why … down there?
“A human's groin area contains certain scent glands, apocrine glands, which produce odorous secretions, such as sweat, providing any receiving, investigatory dog with the information they are looking for,” she explained. “Dogs may use this information to remember specific people if interacting with them more than once.”
So it’s essentially the same as when your dog sniffs another dog’s butt to learn more about him.
The only difference is dogs find this to be totally normal and people, well, don’t.
What to do about it
First thing's first: Don’t aggressively reprimand your dog for sniffing someone’s privates, even though it’s uncomfortable.
“It is never appropriate to punish a dog for acting like a dog,” Dr. Spano said. “It certainly may feel uncomfortable for a person to have his genital area ‘investigated’ up close and personally by a dog, because it is not innate for our species. For dogs, however, they are biologically wired to gain information this way.”
According to Dr. Spano, you can try distracting your dog instead of scolding him.
“Attempt to redirect your dog with something else smelly, to fulfill their natural olfactory curiosity, such as with a treat,” she explained.
If you’re expecting company, Dr. Spano also recommends setting your pup up with a snuffle mat puzzle to keep him occupied when they arrive (so he won’t beeline for their privates!).
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