If you’ve ever had a dog, then you know that they like to sniff everything – other dogs, other people, food, rubbish.
But why do they seem to be especially interested in sniffing you?
Read on to find out why your dog can’t seem to keep their nose off you.
There are a few theories as to why dogs like to sniff people so much. One theory is that dogs use scent to identify individuals. Just like humans have different fingerprints, dogs have different “nose prints.” When a dog sniffs you, they are getting a good long whiff of your unique nose print and storing it away in their memory so they can identify you later.
Dogs share information through scent
Another theory is that dogs use sniffing as a way of gathering information about you.
Just like people share information by talking, dogs share information by sniffing.
When a dog sniffs you, they are picking up on your unique scent and learning things like what you’ve been eating, where you’ve been, who you’ve met, and even how you’re feeling.
Scent is identification for dogs
Dogs use scent to identify people and other animals.
Through scent your dog can tell whether you are a stranger ( and therefore a potential threat ) or a family member that he knows.
Just as you recognise people through facial features, your dog recognises people through their scent.
This might explain why some dogs bark and alert their owners when strangers are in the area.
Sniffing can be a display of affection
Dogs also use sniffing as a way of showing affection.
When your dog sniffs you, they are basically giving you a doggy hug.
Dogs have glands in their cheeks that produce pheromones – chemicals that are designed to produce feelings of comfort and happiness.
When your dog presses their cheek against you, they are trying to share those happy pheromones with you.
Dogs can smell your emotions
Dogs have an incredible sense of smell, and they can use this sense to detect a variety of things, including emotions.
When you interact with your dog, they will use their nose to pick up on the subtle chemical changes that occur in your body.
These changes can reveal a lot about your emotional state, and dogs are very good at reading them.
For example, if you’re feeling happy or excited, your dog will be able to tell from the scent of your sweat.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling anxious or stressed, they’ll be able to pick up on that as well.
In fact, dogs are so sensitive to emotions that they’ve been known to comfort their owners when they’re sad or upset.
Dogs can also pick up on our emotional state by smelling the particles that we release into the air when we exhale.
When we’re stressed, our bodies produce more of the hormone cortisol, which dogs can detect.
As a result, they may start sniffing you more if they sense that you’re feeling anxious or upset.
They can tell if you’re sick
While a dog’s sense of smell is more often used for tasks such as tracking prey or finding lost objects, it can also be used to detect if someone is sick.
Dogs are able to pick up on subtle changes in scent that occur when someone is ill, and they can use this information to alert their owners.
In one study, dogs were able to correctly identify people with cancer 83% of the time.
While more research needs to be done in this area, there is evidence that dogs could potentially be used as early warning systems for a variety of diseases.
Sniffing is your dog’s prime instinct
Humans use sight as their main sense and this is how most able bodied people gain the maximum amount of information about the world around them.
Life is very different for your dog whose world is governed by his sense of smell.
Your dog will sniff you, everyone else and just about everything that he comes into contact with, as a way of gathering information of the world.
It’s perfectly normal for your dog to sniff, it’s a good sign and an indication that your pet is curious about his world and is interested in exploring it.
Dogs use their sense of smell for a variety of reasons, including identification, navigation, and showing affection.
This incredible sense can also be used to detect emotions and illness.
So the next time your dog starts sniffing you, remember that they’re just trying to figure out who you are and how you’re feeling.