Behavioral problems

My Dog Doesn't Let Other Dogs Sniff Their Butt

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. April 22, 2020
My Dog Doesn't Let Other Dogs Sniff Their Butt

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Humans have different customs and personal preferences when it comes to interacting with others. Dogs are also individuals and will have certain quirks which make them unique. However, there are some basic behaviors which all able-bodied dogs should display. Smelling each other's butts is one such behavior. As part of a dog's communication, sniffing the rear of another is important. When a dog refuses other dogs from doing this, it is a sign of a problem.

In this AnimalWised article, we explain why a dog doesn't let other dogs sniff their butt. We show you why this is a sign the dog may be having an issue related to social fear and provide ways to improve their behavior.

You may also be interested in: My Dog Doesn't Like Me
  1. Why do dogs smell butts?
  2. Reasons a dog won't let another dog sniff their butt
  3. What to do if our dog is scared of other dogs
  4. What not to do
  5. Seek professional help

Why do dogs smell butts?

A dog's physicality, evolutionary history and other factors inform their behavior. Much of it is linked to their wild heritage. Dogs are very territorial and in the wild, knowing whether a dog is friendly is very important. It helps them to protect their resources, their pack and themselves.

Why dogs sniff each others butts is related to this physicality. Two glands are located beside the anus of the dog. Known also as anal sacs or scent glands, they secrete an individual scent, unique to each dog as fingerprints are to us. When a dog is sniffing another dog's rear, they are actually pressing their nose against the anal glands to produce a secretion. The dog can then recognize the other animal in the future, such is their acute olfactory ability.

This kind of canine social behavior is important and should not be discouraged. While some dogs may do it more than others, it is uncommon to do it at all. If they prevent another dog from doing it, it is a sign of a problem.

Reasons a dog won't let another dog sniff their butt

Since sniffing another dog's rear is so important in canine communication, not letting a dog do this to them is aberrant. Dogs do have individual personalities, but they also have common dog traits which exist for a reason. They wag their tail when they are happy, bend down when they want to play and curl their lip if turning aggressive. Without these signs, we and other dogs would not know what is going on.

When a dog does not let other dogs smell their butt, it is probably due to social fear. They are scared that the other dog is going to try to attack them, take away their resources or in any way cause them harm. The main reasons why a dog is scared of another dog are:

  • Poor socialization: the socialization period for a dog is imperative for ensuring healthy relationships with other animals in later life. If they don't have good socialization, they will not know how to properly interact with other dogs.
  • Trauma: it is possible that as a younger dog, they have had a traumatic experience. Even if they have been well-socialized, the dog may have been scared by an incident and their behavior has been affected. It could be due to a particular dog, a breed or even seemingly random. The triggers for a dog's trauma can be difficult to decipher.
  • Stress: generalized stress in a dog's life can make them irritable and not want to be near other dogs. The causes of stress in dogs are various, but they are often to do with insecurity. If the dog feels threatened, they aren't receiving enough mental and physical stimulation, or similar concerns can lead to stress.

We should determine whether the dog is fearful of all dogs sniffing they butt or only in certain circumstances. If it is the former, it is usually due to poor socialization and they will be scared of most dogs. Trauma might only affect certain circumstances. Also, it is always possible that another dog is trying to be aggressive with our dog. In these cases, not letting them come close is a useful fear response and a healthy form of protection.

My Dog Doesn't Let Other Dogs Sniff Their Butt - Reasons a dog won't let another dog sniff their butt

What to do if our dog is scared of other dogs

The first thing we need to do is have patience. A dog which doesn't allow other dogs to go near their butt needs help, not our frustration. Their social fear can also make things difficult and if we don't have patience, we can increase this fear.

It can be very difficult to work out why a dog is stressed. Knowing the reason behind trauma is also notoriously difficult to determine. We need to observe the dog and try to remove any causes of stress or antagonism in their lives. However, the specific problem here is to do with other dogs.

Teaching a dog to be comfortable around other dogs sniffing their butt requires re-introduction. This is part of socialization. Even though it is a very important stage as a puppy, it doesn't mean adult dogs can't be socialized. It just means it might be a little tricky. The main thing we need to do is properly introduce our dog to other dogs. To do this, check out the video below:

What not to do

While introducing dogs to each other can be tricky, there are things we might do which make it harder. For this reason, we highlight some of the things we shouldn't do when helping a dog which is scared of other dogs:

  • As we stated above, under no circumstances should we lose our temper. If we are impatient, we will only make the dog even more scared. Threatening or shouting at them will also be counterproductive. It can reinforce negative feelings brought upon by trauma.
  • We must never force socialization. Instead, we need the dog to move at their own pace. If they at any point do not feel safe, we need to take them away and provide reassurance for their safety. Instead, we can slowly let them interact with the other dogs with us beside them to create feelings of security. Only by using their own initiative will they be able to adapt their behavior accordingly.
  • Your dog can easily get overwhelmed if they see too many dogs at a given time. Do not take them to a dog park where there are lots of other animals. Ideally, first introduce them to a dog whom you know has an even temper. Then you can slowly build until they are comfortable around other dogs.
  • When your dog is around other dogs and shows signs of fear, do not pet them and give them affection. This can reinforce their fearful behavior and it means they will overrely on us.
My Dog Doesn't Let Other Dogs Sniff Their Butt - What not to do

Seek professional help

When a dog doesn't want to see other dogs or have them sniff their butts, it is most likely a psychological problem. However, there is a smaller chance that the dog might have a physical problem affecting their behavior. This is particularly the case with older dogs. Neurological disorders related to age can make a dog change their behavior due to confusion. Taking the dog to a veterinarian will help us to rule out any physical problem.

In other cases, changing the behavior of a dog is usually a difficult task. First-time owners may face problems in particular. However, even experienced dog guardians may find an individual dog's behavior problematic. In these cases, you should seek a canine ethologist or behaviorist. These professionals will be able to observe the dog and look for particular signs. They can then implement practical exercises to reduce their fear.

Once the ethologist has been able to asses the dog, they will also be able to give us practical help once the sessions finish. Helping a dog to feel secure is something which should always be involved in their care.

If you want to read similar articles to My Dog Doesn't Let Other Dogs Sniff Their Butt, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.

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