Butt sniffing is how dogs gather information about each other and it’s not only normal, it’s a necessary ritual that dogs do during greetings.
Gross, right? Well, not to them. The hormones excreted by the glands surrounding their genitalia offer much information about the dog and we need to get over it. It’s a dogs version of a hand shake.
A dog’s nose is much more sensitive than ours, to the tune of between 10,000 to 100,000 times more sensitive. Greetings are how dogs communicate and its involve smelling each others’ butts and inguinal area, offering very important information, such as, another dog’s diet, gender and emotional state. So, when your dog is smelling another dog (as shown in the image below), we need to allow them to do their thing. Not allowing them this necessary and informative behavioral ritual is robbing them of their instinctive and habitual nature. This can be one reason that dogs become reactive or aggressive when meeting other dogs on leash. Laurie Luck of Smart Dog University offers some great advice about dog greetings that will go a long way to keeping your dog safe while you’re learning to be a better dog body language reader.
However, some dogs can go overboard in their zeal for getting to know another dog, as shown in the above image. Keen observation and knowledge of the body languages of both dogs, the sniffer and the sniffee, will go a long way in making our dogs more comfortable. In these times, following the 3 second dog greeting rule can keep everyone safe and happy.
Next time you’re tempted to stop your dog from greeting another dog by sniffing their butt, please remember that doing so could create undo stress and anxiety when meeting other dogs in the future. Then, be thankful next time someone politely offers you a handshake, instead of a sniff.
About the author: Jill Breitner is a professional dog trainer and dog body language expert. She is a certified Fear Free Professional for Dogs and Cats; as well as Certified in Animal Behavior and Welfare. She is the author of Dog Decoder, a smartphone app about dog body language. Join Jill on her on her Facebook page.