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Why does my dog sniff crotches?

Does your pet have a behavior that embarrasses you? If your answer is no- you’re in the minority. Almost every pet owner can be embarrassed by a pet’s behavior from time to time. A few years ago, I had a Jack Russell Terrier who invariably would attempt to mount our ever-so-docile cat whenever we would have company over. Our friends thought it was hilarious that our spayed female dog was mounting our neutered male cat. I laugh about it now, but would always cringe when this happened.

One of the most common embarrassing events can occur when your pet is meeting new people- and that’s when your dog’s nose makes a bee-line straight for the person’s nether regions. It can be mortifying for both the pet parent and the recipient of the unwanted sniff assault.

Why do dogs do this? It’s not to embarrass you. There’s behavioral science at work here.  If you’ve ever taken your dog to the dog park, you surely experience the welcoming committee of dogs. The majority of dogs will start sniffing rear ends. Why? It’s because dogs use their noses to gain information about the other dogs. As you know, dogs have a keen sense of smell, and will be able to learn a lot about the other dogs by doing the hind-sniffing. 

This is the same reason why your dog will stick their nose in the groin area of strangers. Humans have two types of sweat glands. The sweat glands that cover the majority of our body are called eccrine glands. The sweat glands under our armpits and in our groin region are called apocrine glands. These apocrine glands produce pheromones in addition to sweat. Dogs use the scent to get information about the person they are sniffing- just like when they’re at the dog park sniffing behinds.

It’s an instinctual behavior- and one that may be embarrassing to both you and the person on the receiving end- but it is a behavior that can be controlled and or modified.  I’ll be preparing another blog soon on how to train your dog to greet new folks with a more dignified approach.

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