If your dog has been sniffing your eyes, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do about them.
So, why does my dog sniff my eyes? Possible reasons why your dog sniffs your eyes are that it has learned that the behavior is rewarded, it is trying to gather information about you, it wants to greet you at the face, or that it is excited.
There are actually a number of possible causes and it might be due to a combination of them. However, there are a number of things you can consider when figuring out the main cause and there are a number of things you can do about it.
Reasons why your dog sniffs your eyes
Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been doing it and what would make each of them more likely to be the main cause.
Encouraging the behavior
The cause could be that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. If you tend to give your dog things such as toys, treats, or extra attention, when it sniffs your eyes, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Instead, it would help to reward your dog when it behaves the way you want it to and to avoid rewarding it when it does not.
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).
The cause could be that it is showing its excitement. This would be more likely if it tends to sniff your eyes when it is showing other signs of excitement and in situations such as when you arrive home.
One reason why excitement could be a cause is that it might want to greet you at the face. It could also be because puppies mothers would feed them from the face and they would jump up to get the food.
However, if it could be the case that there are other causes at play. For example, if it does it most when you arrive home, it would be more likely that it wants to gather information about where you have been.
Things to consider about your dog sniffing your eyes
Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
What else happened when your dog first started sniffing your eyes
If your dog did not always sniff your eyes, it would help to consider what else happened when your dog 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. If it started doing it suddenly, it might also be the case that it learned that the behavior gets rewarded.
What else is different when your dog sniffs your eyes
It would also help to consider if there is anything different in the timing that it tends to do it. For example, if it normally does it most when you arrive home, it would be more likely that it wants to know where you have been. Whereas, if it does it when you’re sat down, it might be showing excitement or because it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded.
How to get your dog to stop sniffing your eyes
Below are some options you have when stopping the behavior.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As mentioned above, it might be the case that your dog has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. Instead, it would help to give your dog rewards when it behaves the way you want it to. When it starts sniffing your eyes, it would help to get up and wait for it to calm down before giving it attention.
Positive reinforcement training
Positive reinforcement training is where you encourage your dog to behave in a certain way by rewarding it when it shows signs of behaving that way. To use it to get your dog to stop sniffing your eyes as much you could reward it whenever it is not sniffing you, stop rewarding it when it starts sniffing and reward it again after it stops sniffing.
To do this, you could stand up, wait for it to stop sniffing, and then give it attention. If your dog starts sniffing again, you would stand up again and wait for it to calm down before giving it attention again. Repeating this process should teach it that sniffing your eyes results in it getting less attention.
Redirect its focus
Another option would be to redirect your dog’s focus onto something else when it seems likely to start sniffing your eyes. Doing this should help to get your dog out of the habit of sniffing your eyes.
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