If your dog has been sniffing your hair 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 your dog to stop doing it.
So, why does my dog sniff my hair? Possible reasons why your dog sniffs your hair are to gather information about you, to find out where you have been, your hair has an unusual scent on it, rewarding the behavior or it might like the scent on your hair.
Since there are a number of possible causes, 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 hair
Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been doing it and what would make them more likely to be the main reason.
To gather information
The most likely reason why it sniffs your hair and other 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, your dog 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.
You have an unusual scent on you
The cause might also be that you have an unusual scent on your hair. This would be more likely if it tends to sniff your hair 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 or after you have washed your hair.
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 your hair 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 hair, 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 hair and to ignore it until it has been being well behaved for a while.
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 hair
If your dog has not always sniffed your hair a lot, 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 a certain time that your dog tends to sniff your hair more. 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 hair
Below are some options you have when getting your dog to stop sniffing your hair.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
It might be the case that you have encouraged it to sniff your hair 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 hair.
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 hair as much you could reward it whenever it is not sniffing your hair, stop rewarding it when it starts sniffing and reward it again after it stops sniffing.