Why do dogs smell you? Uncovering the reasons behind their sniffing!

As a dog owner, have you ever wondered why your furry friend loves to sniff you? We all know that dogs have an amazing sense of smell, but why do they rely so heavily on it when interacting with us humans? In this article, we will uncover the reasons behind why dogs smell us so much and what they may be trying to communicate!

The Science Behind a Dog’s Sense of Smell

Before we dive into why dogs smell us, it’s necessary to understand the science behind their sense of smell. A dog’s nose is incredibly powerful, with about 300 million olfactory receptors compared to humans with only 6 million. This means that dogs can detect odors that are up to 100,000 times weaker than what we can smell.

Not only do dogs have a larger number of olfactory receptors, but they also have a larger olfactory bulb in their brain. This allows them to process and remember different scents much more effectively than humans. Additionally, dogs have a special organ called the vomeronasal organ that is used to detect pheromones, which are chemical signals given off by other animals.

Why Do Dogs Smell Us?

Now that we understand the science behind a dog’s sense of smell, let’s explore some of the reasons why dogs may be so fixated on smelling us.


Dogs use their sense of smell to identify different people and animals. Just like how we recognize each other by appearance, dogs can recognize us by our scent. When a dog smells a person, they can gather a lot of information about that person, such as their gender, age, what they’ve eaten recently, and even their emotional state.

Interestingly, a dog’s sense of smell is so powerful that they can even detect certain medical conditions, such as seizures, low blood sugar, and even some types of cancer.

Bonding and Comfort

Dogs have a strong desire to bond with their human companions, and smelling is one way that they can connect with us. When a dog sniffs its owner, it can release endorphins in both the dog and the human, creating a sense of calm and happiness. This can be especially important for dogs that suffer from anxiety or other behavioral issues.


Another reason why dogs may smell us is to communicate. When a dog smells another dog, they can gather a lot of information about that dog’s mood, health, and even social status. The same is true when a dog smells a human – they may be trying to communicate something to us.

For example, if a dog smells fear or anxiety on their owner, they may try to comfort them. On the other hand, if a dog smells a strong scent of another animal on their owner, they may become defensive or jealous.

How Can I Make Sure My Dog Smells Me?

Now that we know why dogs smell us, you may be wondering how you can encourage your dog to smell you more. Here are a few tips:

  • Don’t use strong-smelling perfumes or lotions that may mask your natural scent
  • Give your dog plenty of opportunities to sniff you – for example, when you first come home or when you’re relaxing on the couch
  • Offer treats or toys that have your scent on them
  • Take your dog for regular walks in new environments, which can give them new scents to explore


Dogs have an incredible sense of smell that plays a crucial role in their daily lives, including their interactions with humans. While we may not be able to understand all of the information that dogs gather from smelling us, we can work to encourage these behaviors and strengthen our bond with our furry friends.

Common Questions

What does it mean when a dog smells you?

When a dog smells you, they are gathering information about you, such as your identity, mood, and even your health.

Why do dogs smell your private areas?

Dogs have scent glands in their anal glands that release pheromones, so they may be trying to learn more about you through these glands. However, it’s important to note that this behavior can be inappropriate and should be discouraged.

How can I train my dog to not smell me so much?

While you may not be able to completely train your dog to stop smelling you, you can work on cues that encourage your dog to stop. For example, you may use the command “no sniff” or offer a treat as a reward for stopping.

Can dogs smell emotions?

Yes, dogs can smell emotions such as fear, anxiety, and happiness. They may also be able to detect changes in our body chemistry that occur with different emotions.

Can dogs smell cancer?

Yes, dogs have been trained to detect certain types of cancer through smell. They can detect changes in a person’s scent that may indicate the presence of cancerous cells.

What do I do if my dog is obsessively smelling me?

If your dog is obsessively smelling you and it’s interfering with your daily life, it may be a sign of an underlying behavioral issue. It’s best to consult with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist for guidance on addressing the behavior.


  • “The Science Behind Your Dog’s Amazing Sense Of Smell.” American Kennel Club, 30 May 2018, www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/the-science-behind-your-dogs-amazing-sense-of-smell/.
  • Coren, Stanley. “Why Do Dogs Sniff Everything?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 31 May 2011, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/canine-corner/201105/why-do-dogs-sniff-everything.
  • “Why Do Dogs Like To Smell Everything?” Hill’s Pet Nutrition, 2 Nov. 2020, www.hillspet.com/dog-care/behavior-appearance/why-do-dogs-smell-everything.

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