Dogs are very social animals and when two dogs meet up (whether for the first time or if they’re old friends) they exchange a lot of information with each other in a very short space of time, as an essential part of normal canine communication and interaction.
Initial meetings between dogs tend to follow a fairly routine pattern that you will quickly become familiar with when it comes to you own dog; in terms of how they approach others, the level of confidence they display, and how reticent or keen they are for another dog to approach, and how welcoming they are when one does.
An integral part of this and one that usually takes place more or less instantly is both dogs circling each other sniffing each other’s back ends – which is often a bit awkward between owners! Many dog owners wonder if they should stop their dog sniffing another dog’s butt – so what is the answer? This article will tell you. Read on to learn more.
There has likely never been a meeting of two dogs in the whole history of the world that did not involve the two dogs sniffing each other’s back ends in short order, often while their owners stand awkwardly by muttering apologetically, trying to pull the dogs apart, or studiously pretending not to witness the whole interaction.
But why do dogs sniff each other’s butts in the first place? Many owners have a sneaking suspicion that it is simply to try and embarrass us and make things awkward between their owners, but this is not the case.
Dogs sniff each other’s butts as a way of passing on and receiving information about each other non-verbally, and this is the primary method for the exchange of communication between them; when for us humans, sight and hearing are relied upon far more heavily.
Dogs have scent glands located either side of their anus, which transmit a huge amount of information unique to each dog and that enable dogs to identify each other, and even learn things like where the dog has been, what they have eaten, and if they’re sick!
Humans would certainly consider butt sniffing to be an undesirable behaviour, and because we unconsciously judge dogs by human standards and norms, we often think of this as being an undesirable behaviour in dogs too.
However, taking the human element out of it and removing our own bias in interpreting such behaviour, when it comes to dogs and their own natural communication frameworks and norms, butt sniffing is not undesirable at all.
This is natural and normal for dogs; and in fact, it is innate to them, and not something they need to be taught or learn by observation. A properly socialised dog that did not instinctively exchange information with another dog in this manner would be highly unusual!
Regardless of the fact that butt sniffing is normal behaviour between dogs, is it considered to be rude to let your dog do this, and should you stop them from doing so and pull them back or tell them off when they do so? And should you expect other dog owners to stop their dog from sniffing your own dog’s butt? Absolutely not.
Certain canine behaviours that are on the one hand normal forms of communication in dog terms are behaviours that it is reasonable for owners to curtail – like humping. But dog owners should not try to stop dogs communicating naturally by sniffing, nor should you expect other dog owners to stop their dogs from doing this with yours.
The exception to this of course is if you want other dog owners to keep a distance and recall or restrain their dog and not approach yours at all – perhaps because your dog is reactive, or nervous – but if you intend to let dogs greet and socialise (which is vital for their emotional health and happiness) butt sniffing comes with the territory!
No. This is a perfectly natural and normal form of communication between dogs, and it is not something humans should intervene in unless you have a reason for not permitting your dog to interact with another dog full stop.
Too much interference of any kind between dogs who are communicating is a bad thing, and it slows down or curtails the process of dogs being able to learn about each other, establish their relative positions in their hierarchy to each other, and come to an accord on how to behave with each other.
You cannot judge canine behaviour by human standards, and should not seek to curtail a dog’s natural behaviour simply because it does not fit within the societal constraints that we as humans hold each other to and live by!