Dogs have sensitive noses. Some dogs are used to sniff out other animals, some help law enforcement, some find bedbugs, and some can even detect sicknesses in people! Physically, a dog’s nose is extremely sensitive due to the quantity of receptors that they have. Dogs have 220 million receptors whereas we have only 5 million.
Our dogs can smell people coming towards them from quite a distance and can alert us. But there are also times when dogs want to learn about a new person and need to sniff them. Most times they will sniff their pants, shoes, hands, or even jump up and sniff their faces. Then, there is the embarrassing time when dogs sniff a person’s private area.
We all know that sniffing is one of the ways dogs learn, process, and understand the world around them. Sniffing us is similar to dogs sniffing each other. Dogs sniff each other’s butts and private areas to learn about each other so it’s logical to assume they are learning about us too. It’s just… uncomfortable for us.
Despite all the reasons why a dog will sniff a person’s crotch, this behavior is not acceptable to many owners and it’s not entirely necessary for dogs to get that close to us. To curb this behavior, a dog needs some basic training with commands and reinforcement of how to greet new people.
Here’s a few tips:
1: Ask your dog to sit before your friend greets your dog. Have your friend approach and ask them to have their hands down and relaxed for the dog to sniff.
2: When your dog greets by only sniffing hands or other parts of the body that are acceptable, reward with a treat.
3: Do not punish your dog for trying to sniff someone’s groin. It’s natural to them and you need to retrain them to greet people and animals differently.
Many dogs learn quickly that sniffing hands is a way to greet a person after repetition and positive reinforcement. If your dog doesn’t seem to understand what you’re asking her to do, you may need to consult a trainer for a different method or tactic. Also, try to not embarrass your friends more than they already may be.