They say dogs care more about our smell than our looks. This is why you’ll find them incessantly sniffing everything, especially you!
They’ll stick their nose on you when you get home, after showering, or after eating.
Why does my dog keep sniffing me?
Find out why your dog keeps sniffing you and the science-backed proof that dogs love the way we smell.
You can also learn why dogs love to smell everything around them, including your stomach, your breath, crotches, and other dogs.
Why Does My Dog Keep Sniffing Me?
Your dog keeps sniffing you because they simply love the way you smell, they are gathering information about you, or are seeking attention from you.
Your scent goes into your dog’s nose and translates into information in their brain. It tells where you went, who you’re with, and if you’re feeling anything strange.
This isn’t usually a cause for concern. Dogs are known for their optimal smelling ability. It’s the bodily sense that they use the most.
If you’re concerned about why your dog keeps sniffing you, here are some possible reasons.
They Enjoy Your Smell
Dogs recognize the way you smell and associate it with happy experiences. Remember that dogs learn through association.
For example, they follow our commands and do tricks because their training allows them to associate the command with treats and praises.
In the same way, they like the way we smell because their brain associates it with playtime, feeding time, bonding, and more.
With your dog’s powerful sense of smell, your scent might just be the most important for them.
They are Gathering Information
Of the five neurological senses, a dog’s sense of smell takes the lead. It’s much more advanced than ours and one sniff will let them know our whereabouts.
This is more likely to be the reason if you just got home to your inquisitive dog jumping on you and smelling all over your body.
They’re dying to know what took you so long, where you were, and who you have been with.
Of course, sniffing is normal given that they rely on it the most. You just want to set boundaries so your dog sees you as the pack leader despite their canine instincts.
But do be careful as obsessive sniffing may cause jealousy, aggression, and separation anxiety.
They Want Attention
Your dog may be smelling you to figure out where you’ve been or how you’re feeling, or maybe they just want some love from you.
This means they are smelling you because they want something in return. Usually, it’s attention in the form of praises and physical touch.
Sometimes, they’re not trying to sniff you at all. They just put their head on you because they want you to notice them.
It’s acceptable to give your dog a belly rub, a pat on the head, or a hug if they are doing this.
But you need not always reward them with attention because sniffing can become a learned behavior. They could start associating the behavior with attention and it could become obsessive.
Why Dogs Smell Everything
Dogs sniff you because they want your attention, they want information about you, or they simply like the way you smell. But dogs also sniff you because it’s in their DNA.
While we only have 5 million olfactory receptors, our furry friends have around 200 million olfactory receptors! It’s instinct to sniff because it’s their main strategy for survival.
Whether dogs are looking for food, trying to detect threats, or asking help from their pack leader, they will use their nose to do all of these things.
On the other hand, we are visual beings who depend mostly on our eyes for survival.
It is their way of seeing the world, so there is no need to worry if you notice that they keep on sniffing you.
Proof that Dogs Love the Way We Smell
A study by Gregory Berns and his team proves that our furry friends love the way we smell by examining the brain-imaging of dogs.
As the first person to train dogs to stay still while doing an MRI, he investigated canine olfaction and cognition by understanding how they think while sniffing.
Twelve dogs were used and trained to behave properly while they were doing an MRI. The twelve dogs were given five different smells while their brains were being examined.
Some of the scents included the genital areas of the dogs and the armpits of their humans, who were not allowed to bathe and use deodorant for 24 hours.
The five scents were shown to be associated with positive experiences or expectations, meaning dogs can remember different smells.
However, the strongest emotional response came from the smell of their humans’ bodies. This may imply that dogs love our fragrance the most.
Results also show that service dogs had the strongest emotional response among other dogs when it comes to their human’s smell.
These findings might already be expected because we see how dogs get enthusiastic when they’re around us. But it is surprising to know that there is a reward response to our scent.
This may be out of pure affection, food, play, or anything else that we give them that causes them to deem our scents as rewards.
Why Dogs Sniff Your Stomach
If your dog sniffs your belly button, it’s probably because they are noticing transformations in your body. Something’s going on with your belly!
For instance, if you’re female, they might be smelling changes in your hormones. Dogs can smell if you’re pregnant so it’s no wonder they keep smelling your tummy.
They do this by picking up volatile organic compounds or VOCs in humans. These are the molecules that occur from changes in the body, such as sickness, medications, or diet.
Why Dogs Sniff Your Breath
Dogs use their sense of smell to interpret the world. They are inclined to smell everything, including our breaths.
There is no exact reason why dogs love to smell our breath.
Their sense of smell is so powerful that they might even smell all the ingredients of the food you last ate, not just the garlic and onion!
Also, our food may be sweet, fresh, rotten, or spicy, but our dog’s nose will be able to deconstruct the smell and tell each ingredient apart.
Aside from the food you ate, they may also be able to smell your cavities, saliva, the last person you kissed, and the wound on your gums.
Dogs want to get as much information from us as possible, so they even examine our breaths!
Why Dogs Sniff Legs
If your dog is sniffing your legs, it’s probably because they want to know where you’ve been.
It’s the most accessible part of the body that they can sniff, especially when you’re standing up.
The smell of your legs also tells if other animals have been around you or beside you. It also tells information on where you walked and who you went with.
This is usually accompanied by the sniffing of your feet and knees. Your legs touch more objects and scents every time you move from one place to another.
For example, the dirt in the park reaches your legs more than it reaches your arms. So, your dog would rather gather information from them!
Why Dogs Sniff Other Dogs
You may think that your dog’s butt-sniffing behavior is a way of greeting fellow dogs. It is, but there are so many other reasons why dogs sniff other dogs.
As mentioned, dogs have very powerful noses that allow them to learn about others. They recognize the distinct scent of every human or animal, including other dogs.
When a dog meets a fellow dog for the first time, the smelling behavior may seem excessive. That’s because they want to know their history, gender, health, and more.
It’s the equivalent of verbal introductions and small talks in humans.
Why Dogs Sniff Other Dogs’ Crotches
If your dog sniffs other dogs’ crotches, it’s because the information or scent is strong in that area.
It usually resides in the genitals and anus of the dogs.
When they smell other dogs’ genitals, it’s because they are trying to find out their gender, diet, health, and attitude.
It also tells their reproductive status. Dogs’ second olfactory system collects pheromones from other animals through the vomeronasal organ also known as the Jacobson’s organ.
These are the unique chemicals that animals have. They provide information on whether they are ready to mate and other sex-related details.
This may be embarrassing, but it’s totally normal. Discourage this behavior if the other dog or the owner doesn’t seem comfortable with the canine gesture.
Should I Let My Dog Sniff Me?
Yes. This is normal behavior
Again, dogs are hardwired to smell. Their nose is the sense organ they rely on the most so there is nothing wrong with them wanting to smell you.
After all, you are their human, and their human is their favorite smell.
You should only discourage this behavior if it has become an inconvenience to you and if it’s becoming a sign of obsessive behavior.
Instead, let them sniff during walks. This is much better for their mental stimulation and physical exercise.
It’s simple. When we let them use the sense that they are inclined to use the most, they will display less bad behavior.
When your dog does not have an outlet for their energy, or if they get too bored with the same smells in the house, they might be super energetic, anxious, noisy, or destructive.
Let them sniff during walks for a few minutes. We recommend doing this at the start and end of the walk so that you can keep your route smooth.
FAQ Dog Senses
How Good is a Dog’s Sense of Smell?
So good that it’s beyond our understanding!
Dogs are super smellers because it is their primary sense. Experts intelligently guess that their nose is up to 100,000 times stronger than ours.
This is because when humans inhale scents, we just exhale most of them. Dogs, on the other hand, have a recessed area on their nose for smelling and collecting information.
The canine dog even picks up pheromones that allow them to know about mate readiness and other reproductive information.
Once you know how good a dog’s sense of smell is, you’ll begin to understand how important it is to unleash and maximize it!
Does Sniffing Help Mentally Stimulate Dogs?
Dogs mainly use their nose to interpret everything. This also means a huge part of their brain is dedicated to analyzing different scents in their surroundings.
When you don’t make the most out of it, your dog can use their extra energy to be destructive, anxious, and energetic.
Overall, sniffing improves their well-being because it keeps them satisfied, occupied, and stimulated
Find out other ways on how to mentally stimulate your dog aside from nose work!
Can Dogs See in the Dark?
Dogs can see in low-light situations because they have various cells in their retina that allow them to absorb enough light and shadow.
However, in total darkness where there is zero light to absorb, dogs will not be able to see. This situation might make them afraid because they feel vulnerable to danger.
Dogs can become afraid of the dark because they may associate it with past traumatic experiences, but they don’t necessarily develop a phobia the way we do.
Know how to help your dog if they are afraid of the dark to avoid anxiety, accidents, and injuries.
Why Does my Dog Always Touch Me?
If your dog always touches you, it’s usually because they want your attention.
It’s completely normal unless it starts getting out of hand and becomes annoying. From time to time, you may respond to them by giving them attention.
But always rewarding may reinforce this gesture and turn into bad behavior. So, stop them from doing this once it has become a nuisance.
You can do this by simply ignoring them or moving them to another place.
Discover the other reasons why dogs love touching their humans so you know whether you should communicate back and how you will do it!
Let Your Dog Have a Good Sniff
As might be expected, dogs will sniff everything and everyone, especially us because they want to know us the most.
They love picking up information about us through their nose. Where have we been? Who were we with? Science even says dogs can’t get enough of our scent.
They may also be sniffing us to seek attention or playtime.
Let your dog go on scent walks so they can maximize their sense of smell, enjoy exercising, and get mentally stimulated.
You can also use sniffing as a reward for training or for finishing a long hike!
Check out our 9 dog walking tips to make scent walks more enjoyable for you and your dog.