The sniffing of objects and creatures on the way is a familiar and no longer surprising behavior for dogs. But the question of why do dogs sniff butts is still of interest to many people. What is the reason for the strange action, according to humans? Let’s find out!
Reasons Why Do Dogs Sniff Butts
The sense of smell is a special canine sense that prevails over all others. While humans memorize appearances when getting to know one another, dogs get information about fellow dogs by memorizing scent. Under each tail is an anal gland that secretes a special secret unique to each individual. The two anal sacs produce odors. They provide information to other animals about everything from their health and reproductive status to their sex, age, diet, and level of satisfaction with life.
Thanks to Jacobson’s organ (vomeronasal organ), which is located between the nose and mouth, is connected to the brain and can analyze large molecules, such as some pheromones. It allows them to ignore the smell of fecal matter when dogs sniff butts of another dog. Instead, the vomeronasal organ picks up more important information.
The ritual of meeting dogs always follows a certain scenario: meeting with their noses, touching their sides, then dog butt sniffing. This rule is followed by all dogs regardless of sex or age. Surely you have noticed that when meeting unfamiliar dogs they take longer to smell each other than they do to sniff the familiar ones. All the information is stored in the memory. Therefore, when meeting each other again dog may not recognize the other one externally, but after sniffing it will immediately remember the fact of acquaintance. The same happens when meeting new people. But only the smell the dogs draw in from their armpits. And when they meet people they already know, they cursorily sniff only their hands, feet, and clothes. And each time they get new information.
The wagging of the tail when meeting a familiar person or another dog is also related to the smell of the anal gland. When it happens, its owner thinks it is an expression of joy. True, but it is not the dog’s primary purpose in wagging his tail. It is trying to communicate information about itself by spreading the unique scent released by its anal glands. For dogs, the scent released when wagging the tail plays a very essential role. Dominant dogs raise their tails as high as possible to let others know they are approaching. On the contrary, dogs that are not important to others or are frightened, press their tails up to remain unnoticed.
What Does the Smell from Dog’s Butt Tell Us?
In healthy dogs, the smell of the secret is elusive to the human nose or can be smelled very faintly. But for fellow dogs, it has a lot of useful information:
- Age. The secretory fluid of puppies and dogs that have reached puberty has no individual odor. Thus, nature has made sure that the animals remain undetectable and their ability to survive is higher;
- Physical ability and strength. In composition, the secret of small-sized and large animals is different and, accordingly, has a different scents;
- State of health. The smell from the butt of a sick dog becomes abnormal and signals that this individual is weak. In the wild, it would face inevitable death from the claws and paws of stronger, healthier individuals.
Why Do Dogs Sniff Butts Each Other But Not the Backs of People?
The fact is that this behavior is not related to the rear end per se, but to the location of those very active glands. Humans are structured a little differently, and the keys to their identity are in completely different places. Therefore, dog butt sniffing may be observed mainly in relations between animals.
But the habit of animals nipping under the tail of fellow animals when they meet has prompted people to use it for diagnostic purposes. In 2004, the results of a study published in the British Medical Journal showed that human cancers produce an odorant and that dogs’ keen sense of smell allows them to smell it. This information caused a furor in medical circles and was immediately accepted worldwide.
Do You Have to Wean Your Dog From Sniffing Butts?
Dog butt sniffing is perfectly normal behavior and really is the best way for two dogs to get to know each other. But if owners are concerned about this pet’s attitude when approaching other animals, an experienced behaviorist can help teach the dog to curb his enthusiasm or aggression and teach him to meet new friends in a calmer manner.
Moreover, owners should consider the rules of pack hierarchy to avoid trouble with their pets. A puppy or adult dog should not be allowed to cheekily sniff older, stronger animals. Such insistence can cause aggression, so it is a good idea to hold onto the leash when confronted with large dogs for safety.
Teach your dog to sit or stand still when confronted by other dogs and ask them to respect your privacy. It is worth taking the time to teach your dog commands. If your pet encounters another pet who feels uncomfortable with being sniffed, you can quickly regain control of the situation by giving a simple command. A veterinarian or dog handler can recommend ways to change your dog’s approach to the greeting. But it’s unlikely to completely prohibit your dog from sniffing other dogs’ butts.
Should You Worry If Your Dog Doesn’t Sniff Other Dogs’ Butts
If your pet doesn’t tend to this behavior and it bothers you, you need to make an appointment with your vet. It’s possible that the pooch just isn’t very social or perhaps prefers the company of people. The dog may be afraid or anxious because of negative experiences in the past. You should check to see if the pet’s sense of smell is impaired, especially if this is a sudden change in behavior. An examination by a veterinarian will help ensure that the pet does not have a health problem.
In conclusion, dogs sniff butts each other for a variety of motives, including gathering information about each other and setting up a social hierarchy. Although this behavior may seem odd to us, it is a normal and essential part of dog socializing and we should strive to understand and respect it.