If your dog has been sniffing your face a lot, 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 to get it to stop doing it.
So, why does my dog sniff my face? Possible reasons why your dog has been sniffing your face are that it is trying to gather information about you such as your health status, it wants to know where you have been, you have an unusual smell on you or that the behavior gets rewarded.
Since there are a number of possible reasons, it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely. Once you have a good idea of the cause, it should become easier to get your dog to stop doing it.
Why your dog sniffs your face
Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been sniffing your face and what you can do to get your dog to stop doing it.
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).
To find out where you have been
By sniffing you, 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 when you arrive home.
You have an unusual scent on you
The cause might also be that you have an unusual scent on you. 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.
It likes the way you smell
The cause could also be that your scent causes it to feel more secure. This would be more likely if it tends to sniff you more in situations such as when it is sitting or lying down with you.
It gets rewarded
The reason why it does it might be that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. If you tend to give it things such as extra attention, treats or toys, when it sniffs your face, it will likely be encouraged to 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, to redirect its focus when it is about to sniff your face and to ignore it until it has been being well behaved for a while.
The cause could be that it is showing its excitement. This would be more likely if it tends to sniff your face 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
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 face
If your dog did not always sniff your face, 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. If it started doing it suddenly, it might also be the case that it learned that the behavior gets rewarded.
What is different when it tends to do it
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.
What to do about your dog sniffing your face
Below are some things you can do in order to encourage your dog to stop sniffing your face.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
It might be the case that you have encouraged it to sniff your face 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 you.
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 face 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.
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