As humans it is normal for us to say hello and shake someones hand when we meet them for the first time. Unfortunately communication is not quite that simple for our four legged friends the canine. For this reason they meet and greet other dogs in a very specific way – by smelling each others butts. To humans this seems gross and at times even a little embarrassing but for our furry counter parts it is a completely natural reaction and a way of life. Many people even believe that when a female dog is involved she must be in heat however even this assumption is incorrect in the butt sniffing process.
When dogs encounter each other there is a natural curiosity about each other. Since they can’t talk and exchange information that way they resort to the next best thing – their noses. There is a multitude of information that dogs can learn about each other simply by smelling each others behinds. For example, when your dog comes across another dog his first instinct is to begin smelling the butt of the other dog. By doing this he can learn many things about this other dog and say hello all at the same time. The things that dogs can learn about each other during this process include how healthy the other dog is, what types of food they eat and even their emotional health and living environment as well. That’s a lot of information just for a few seconds of simple mutual sniffing.
Most people know that dogs have a keen sense of smell. What many people don’t realize is how they use this hyped up sense to their advantage. As humans we rely on our other senses such as the ability to speak and touch to learn about various things or get certain types of information from others. Since dogs do not have this ability to the degree that humans do they rely primarily on their noses for the same purpose. In general dogs use their sense of smell more than any other sense that they possess and they do it in a much different way than what people do. For example, a humans brain is designed to process about 5% of what they smell into useful information. With a dog that percentage is more than six times higher as their brains are designed to process about 33% of what they smell. This is why dogs sniff nearly everything that they come into contact with. After they take their time smelling their brain then processes what they have smelled into information that they can use to decipher between something or someone that is a threat and those which are not.
First meetings are not the only time that a dog will sniff another dogs behind. Even when the dog is one that has been encountered before or even lives in the same home butt sniffing between dogs is a common practice. This is one of the ways that dogs that are already familiar recognize each other. In addition to this the act of sniffing a familiar dogs behind is calming as well. For example, if you have multiple dogs in the home and one returns from outside the others will sniff them and it is calming to them. This is yet another reason that butt sniffing between dogs is done.
Basically when it comes to the matter of dogs and sniffing bottoms it all boils down to science. Not everything in life can be easily explained away by science but this is one thing at least that can be better understood if you know a little about the science behind it. Each side of a dogs behind has an anal sac. This is where all the chemicals dogs look for when sniffing each other. These chemicals are what gives each dog that comes into contact with them information about the dog they are sniffing. They identify the sex of the dog, the health of the dog, when he most recently ate and many other things as well. Every little thing that a dog does alters the smell of these chemicals which is why smelling each other in this way is so useful to other dogs.
Now you know a little more about why dogs do their silly little butt sniffing dance when they encounter other dogs. Maybe this will help you understand the process the next time you see it happening. And that is the truth about dogs and their butt sniffing behaviors.