Why Dogs Sniff, and Why Owners Shouldn’t Be Embarrassed About It

Juliet Farmer
dog nose

Photo by Juliet Farmer

I've always called my dog, Greta, Sniffy McSnifferson because (you guessed it) she likes to sniff. Everything.

And I'm not just talking bushes, piles of leaves, and grass, but also other dogs' (and our cats') behinds, as well as the crotches of guests who enter my home.

Most people seem to understand that this is all very normal dog behavior, but every once in a while I will encounter another dog owner who seems quite mortified that his or her dog wants to sniff Greta's caboose.

I, on the other hand, tend to view it as the equivalent of a handshake, fist bump, small hug or verbal acknowledgement. After all, it's not like they can say, "Good morning!"

According to Psychology Today, at least 33 percent of a dog's brain is devoted to processing olfactory information (in humans that figure is closer to about 5 percent). Dogs (and their noses) are used to sniff out drugs, explosives, even cancer.

So the next time you're out walking your dog, and he or she stops to sniff another dog's behind, instead of cringing with embarrassment, stop and dogthromorphisize, and you'll realize that your pets are just saying "Hey, how are ya?"

Is your dog a crazy sniffer? Does it embarrass you?

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