If your dog has been sniffing your hands a lot, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you four common reasons why dogs do it and what you can do to get it to stop.
Your dog might actually be doing it for a number of different reasons and it might be due to a combination of them. However, there are some things you can consider when figuring out the main causes and there are many things you can do about them.
Reasons why your dog sniffs your hands
Below are a number of possible causes and what would make each of them more likely.
To find out where you have been
By sniffing your hands, it can find out things such as what other animals you have been around. The reason why it does it might also be because it wants to know where you have been. This would be more likely if it does it more when you arrive home.
They have a strong smell on them
The cause could be that your hands have a particularly strong smell on them. This would be more likely if it tends to sniff your hands more at certain times such as right after you have been cooking or after you touched something that might make your hands smelly.
To gather information
The most likely reason why it sniffs things a lot is that it has a strong sense of smell and sniffing things allows it to gather information about the thing it’s sniffing.
For example, the urine of other dogs will tell it where it has been, its health status and what it has been eating, this is the case for humans too. They can even pick up on the ovulation of humans which is why they will sniff females more during certain parts of the month (source).
They smell different
The cause might also be that you have an unusual scent on your hands. This would be more likely if it tends to sniff you more at specific times such as when you come back from a location that has weird smells or a lot of people such as a bar or restaurant.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
If it always did it
If your dog did not always sniff your hands so much, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it.
For example, if it started doing it when you first started working a new job, that involves interacting with lots of different people, it could be the case that your dog has been picking up on their scents on you.
What is different when it does it
It would also help to consider what else is different when your dog sniffs your hands. If it tends to sniff them more at a certain time, it would be likely that the timing has something to do with it.
For example, if it sniffs your hands after cooking food, it would be likely that it smells the smell of the food on you. Whereas, if it tends to sniff your hands when you arrive home, it would be more likely that it is trying to smell where you have been and that you have an unusual smell on you.
What to do about it
Below are some options you have when dealing with the behavior.
Avoid encouraging it
It might be the case that you have encouraged it to sniff your hands by giving it things it wants when it does it. If you tend to give your dog things such as toys, treats or extra attention, when it sniffs you, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Instead, it would help to redirect its focus onto something else, to avoid rewarding it with extra attention and to give it attention when it does not sniff your hands.
Redirect its focus
Another thing you could do would be to redirect its focus onto something else when it seems likely to start sniffing your hands. Things to redirect its focus towards could include a bone or toys.
Allow it to do it
It is natural for dogs to sniff people’s hands momentarily because it allows dogs to gather information about the person. It would also be an option to allow your dog to continue to do it for a few moments especially when you first see it when coming home.
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