It’s not as gross as you think.

When humans first meet, we shake hands, make eye contact, and ask questions to get to know each other. This greeting usually gives us enough information to make some safe assumptions about a person’s approximate age, health and current mood. Dogs do the same thing, but in a much more crude way – they get their information by sniffing each other’s butt.

If you have a pup, you know how unappealing this can be to watch. Luckily, evolution is on their side! While dogs can sniff 10,000 to 100,000 times more than us mere human beings, they have a special super organ, called Jacobson’s organ, in their naval cavity that prevents the smelling of poo and enhances the smell of everything else.

OK, so why is the dog butt so special? Fair warning: I’m going to get anatomical on you. Every dog has two anal glands from which come secretions that, while masked to the human nose by the pup’s stool, tell an entire story to dogs who sniff it. With a couple of inhales, any dog can ascertain if another dog is an old acquaintance or a new one, if they’re male or female, and if they’re aggressive or passive. Here are 10 more things dogs can smell that humans can’t. 

The next time you see your dog go in for a sniff, just allow it to happen because if it gets cut short it can leave a dog confused and crazy with curiosity. But (!), keep that dog “greeting” to no more than three seconds because any longer and it can be a sign of dominant dog behaviour and no one wants a bully on the puppy playground. If you’re unsure how long it should be, just think of the length of a handshake. Handshakes or behind sniffing… aren’t you grateful you’re a human being?

If this the reason for this sniffing habit shocked you, you’ll love these 30 things your dog wishes you knew. 

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