New pet owners may be curious about why their dog won't stop sniffing the other dog in the house or why it seems to happen constantly when you're out for a walk. This age-old method is actually a canine's way of investigating other animals and learning about their individual characteristics. If your dog is obsessively sniffing other dogs, try to be patient and allow the activity to run its course. In time, you'll come to see that this practice is beneficial and even enjoyable for your dog and those he meets on the streets.
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Canine sense of smell
Dogs basically live to smell, which is why you'll likely endure a good bit of leash pulling as your dog jockeys to get a better angle for her nose. In fact, the portion of your dog's brain that's dedicated to smell is 40 times larger than that of a human's, and your dog's nose contains 150 million olfactory receptors, while your own has 5 million. Plus, a canine's sense of smell even goes beyond her own obvious sniffer to include an extra body part called the Jacobson's organ that's able to pick up pheromones, which are chemical scents that have no discernible odor at all.
Dogs obsessively sniffing other dogs
You're actually witnessing a fact-finding mission when a dog is obsessively sniffing other dogs. Canines use their nose to quickly assess an approaching animal to determine the dog's gender, whether she is ready for breeding, the animal's mood (happy, aggressive), whether she's a friend or enemy, and also the health and wellness of the other pup. So, while these actions may seem obsessive, a dog smelling another dog's body is an important investigatory tool.
Male dogs smelling other males
As for the focus of most canine smelling, there's a reason that the behind is prime real estate. Your dog won't stop sniffing your other dog because he wants to get close to his anal glands since these tiny sacs give off a rather strong odor that's attractive and unique to other pups. The approach to pressing a nose into another dog's butt is decided by dominance.
The more alpha dog will start the rear-end sniffing, while the submissive pooch usually waits his turn, but in some cases, the less dominant canine will take a whiff and then back off. Either way, it's wise to have both animals tethered to a leash lest any growling ensue after the initial sniffing. Don't be surprised if you spy your pet sitting down in order to prevent the newcomer from getting close to his butt. This signal is his way of shielding his own odor so personal information can't be given out freely.
Make sniffing more fun
The ability to sniff as often as possible can actually calm down a dog and relieve stress, and it offers her some much-needed mental stimulation. If you realize that your dog's constant sniffing extends each walk or play session far too much, you might try to find ways to satisfy this particularly strong olfactory need. For example, schedule some longer walks so your dog has a chance to stop and sniff every trash can, tree branch, and leaf pile. You can also allow your pet to have some free time off leash in a safe space to explore with her nose.
To put a halt to the sniffing fun, it's a good idea to teach your dog the "leave it" command so she knows when she should move on. Practice this phrase along with a handful of tasty treats and soon your pup will come to know that her nose work is over, and it's time to head home.