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13 Weird Reasons Why Your Dog Keeps Sniffing Your Legs

Dog Keeps Sniffing My Legs

You feel that whiff of air in your legs…

Plus, there’s this slight dampness along with it.

And it’s Fido sniffing your legs. Again.

“Why do they keep doing this?”

Continue reading to know:

  • 13 surprising reasons why your dog keeps sniffing your legs.
  • 3 odd things that your canine can detect from you through smell.
  • How dogs react to familiar and strange smells (that they get from leg-sniffing).
  • And much, much more…

Why does my dog keep sniffing my legs?

Your dog keeps sniffing your legs because your smell is comforting. Sometimes, they like your scent, whether it be unusual or familiar. Other times, they want to know more about you and how you feel. It can also be due to encouragement, exploration, or scent-marking.

13 reasons why your dog keeps sniffing your legs

#1: Your smell is comforting and rewarding

Fido keeps smelling your legs because when they do, they feel secure. 

There’s something about your scent that’s comforting to them. And being that near to you assures your pupper.

Now, Fido will sniff whatever part is reachable to them. 

But whether you’re standing up or sitting down on the couch…

Your legs are the most accessible for your pooch.

And so they sniff away…

They might even wag their tail slowly or show you loving eyes. Or Fido will lie down next to your feet.

After all, this is what research reveals:

Your scent is rewarding to your dog.

That’s the findings after the researchers put 12 dogs under an fMRI machine.

There, they observed the canines’ caudate nucleus. Which is the center for activities in the brain:

  • Reward.
  • Emotion.
  • Memory.
  • Learning.
  • Motivation.
  • Romantic interactions.

Now, the subjects were exposed to the scents of the following:

  • A stranger.
  • Their own smell.
  • A familiar human.
  • A dog they know.
  • An unfamiliar canine. 

And each pupper’s caudate nucleus only activated when they sniffed 1 of that 5 scents. Which is the smell of a familiar human.

#2: They like your scent

Your Dog Keeps Sniffing Your Legs Because They Like Your Scent

Apart from your comforting and rewarding odor…

Your pooch just likes your scent. 

And they sniff your legs to get that fragrance from you that they really love…

Whether it be the food that you cooked recently. Or the lotion that you applied on your feet. Heck, even your laundry detergent.

“How well can they smell those?”

Fido uses their nose to perceive the world. 

According to VCA Hospitals, canines can smell up to 10,000 times better than humans. 

And compared to us, who only have 6 million sensory receptors…

Well, dogs have 100 million of those in their nasal cavity.

So, they pick up a lot of scents. And from there, they choose some that they enjoy sniffing. 

And research tells us all about these odors that dogs love. So much that they become well-behaved and calm.

I’m talking about the following scents:

  • Vanilla.
  • Ginger.
  • Valerian.
  • Coconut.

#3: Encouragement

This time, your dog sniffing your legs is a reinforced behavior.

AKC says that makes your pupper repeat the action.

And it usually comes from your encouragement.

So what led to this is:

The first time your pup sniffed your legs, you got all happy. With that, you pet them and call them a good dog.

And when they did it again…

You didn’t like it that much. 

But you’re not one to be unkind to Fido. So you still gave them a pat and moved on.

Not just that…

Did you know that even yelling can encourage the behavior?

For your pupper, they’ve successfully gotten your attention. And they take that as a reward.

So even if you scold them for sniffing your legs…

Fido thinks it’s an acceptable behavior. So, they do it repeatedly.

#4: They’re interested in the scent you bring

It doesn’t matter whether the odor you carry is familiar or not…

Both interests Fido very much.

Let me elaborate…

Familiar scents evoke memory

Ever have that certain smell that brings you back to a particular place?

That’s widely reported in us, humans. But it also happens to dogs.

This experiment proved it:

The subject canines were trained to memorize rewards in 5 different locations.

To help them with it, the researchers used 3 approaches:

  • No odors in locations with rewards.
  • Applying an apple scent to mark rewarded areas.  
  • Using a vanilla aroma in the spots with bounties.

Now, this aims to know whether the dogs will use the odors to identify the prizes. And which among the 3 approaches would be the best.

The results show that dogs exposed to the vanilla scent did better. After all, they love that smell, too, right? 

Dogs are interested in new scents

Some puppers are fond of every new thing.

It can be an out-of-box toy. Or a fresh piece of clothing.

And a study backs that up:

17 dogs were given a choice between an old toy and a new one. And in their first exposure to those, the canines chose the latter 76% of the time. 

#5: They like to learn more about you

When your pupper meets a new pooch, they sniff the other’s bum.

And when they meet new people…

Fido won’t hesitate to stick their nose in on the strange person.

That’s because an odor is a dog’s way of learning about the pup or person.

But, this is your pupper. Whom you’ve had with you for a long time.

“Right? So why do they need to smell me to get to know me?”

Well, there’s always something more to learn about the individuals we love, right?

By sniffing, Fido gathers more information about you. 

For example, you recently changed your lotion. 

Then, your pooch will be like:

“That’s new. Interesting choice…”

And they’ll relate the scent to you at that very moment.

Read also: Dog Constantly Sniffing The Ground: 7 Reasons + 7 Tips

#6: They want to know how you feel

They Want To Know How You Feel

You think smell can only be related to food, flowers, and so on…

But dogs can also connect your scent with your emotions.

That’s why when they sniff your legs, they want to know how you’re feeling. Or confirm it. 

It’s like they’re saying:

“Hooman, I’m glad you’re feeling happy today.”

Moreover, National Geographic says that your dog catches your emotions.

How, you ask?

It’s through this thing called affective empathy. Which lets your pupper understand your feelings.

Then, they also use cues from your body language and facial expressions.

Continue reading: 9 Weird Reasons Why Dogs Sniff The Air And Look Up

#7: To track where you’ve been

As I mentioned, dogs have an amazing sense of smell.

It’s like their superpower. 

That’s why canines become police dogs and rescuers.

And with their ability to track through smell, nothing can get past them.

Even you.

Your pupper sniffs your legs to find out where you’ve been. And even who you’ve been with.

So, you can’t get away from Fido knowing your whereabouts.

“What? You went to the park without me?”

Says your pupper who can’t take this little betrayal. And speaking of such, take this next one:

#8: They smell another dog

Apart from knowing the places you’ve been for the day…

Fido will know the individuals you’ve interacted with when they sniff your legs.

And they might not easily let go of you when they smell another dog.

Now, reactions will differ from one canine to another.

Some dogs might growl lowly. While others might wag their tail.

To give you a further idea…

Take a look at this pupper who detected another dog from their human:

#9: Scent-marking

Let’s use some of the reasons you’ve learned so far for this section:

A pupper sniffed your legs in the park to learn about you (reason #5).

And when you got home, your pooch knew you let another dog near you (reason #8).

That’s because the pup from the park put some of their scent on you.

So as the strange Fido gathers information from you by sniffing your legs…

They also left some of their pheromones in you. Which your fur baby detected.

“How did that pup in the park leave their pheromones on me?”

To answer:

Dogs don’t sweat like humans

Canines will pant when they feel hot. Or they’ll lie on the cold bathroom floor to regulate their temperature.

However, they do have a few sweat glands on their paws and nose.

That means they secrete some of their scent in those areas.

And when they smell certain things…

They leave off their sweat, which contains pheromones.

#10: Attention-seeking

First, some dogs like to be the center of attention. 

Second, they’re relentless creatures.

Most of all, Fido values your recognition so much.

That’s why your pooch will do anything to turn your focus into them.

And that includes sniffing your legs. Along with other attention-seeking behaviors that vets tell us all about:

  • Pawing.
  • Nudging.
  • Whining.
  • Barking at you.
  • Jumping on you.
  • Pulling your clothes.
  • Dropping their things in front of you.
  • Stealing things from you to initiate a chase.

#11: They’re greeting you

Sometimes Fido has no other intention than sniffing your legs. All they want to do is welcome you home.

And did you know that it’s in your pup’s DNA to greet someone?

As you might know, dogs are descendants of wolves.

And those wild canines have many greeting behaviors. Which, after thousands of years, they passed down to domesticated pups.

#12: You’re injured

This won’t sound good…

But Fido detects an injury on your legs. That’s why your pup’s sniffing them.

And some people have a high tolerance when it comes to pain. 

If you’re one of those people, it can be difficult to tell whether you have an injury or not.

So try to look for signs like:

  • Deformation.
  • Discoloration.
  • Open wounds.

The first 2 are subtle symptoms of a bone fracture in humans. 

And when you notice those, plus finally feel that tinge of pain…

Apply the necessary first aid. Then, go to the hospital for a doctor’s opinion.

#13: They’re checking your health

An evident injury for your pooch isn’t the only thing they can point your attention to…

They can also tell if you’re not feeling best, health-wise.

So, Fido will further investigate by sniffing your legs. 

You might have arthritis. Which is when your joints are swelling and getting destroyed.

Aside from that…

Did you know that dogs can even detect cancer?

In this research, puppies were trained to identify the disease. Only through the breath samples from individuals diagnosed with lung and breast cancer.

And after that, the dogs identified the affected samples accurately. 

Now, this isn’t meant to scare you or something…

However, do a self-check if your pupper keeps on sniffing you. Not just on the legs.