It’s an awkward and unsavory experience when your dog takes a whiff of a visitor’s crotch. While the act may seem nasty to us, the undies give our canine companions valuable information.
Canines have apocrine glands all over their bodies, most concentrated in the anal and genital areas.
They lick or eat dirty underwear as a human’s apocrine glands are also concentrated in the genital area.
This is their way of learning more information about both dogs and people.
It’s true that dogs have some gross habits, as dogs are well known to sniff (and eat) almost everything. From your feet to their favorite ball to the garbage, and, well, your undies.
They don’t run off with your undergarments for any nefarious purpose; they are intrigued by stinky things.
Scents Provide Dogs With Valuable Information
Dogs sniff anything and everything. They take in info about a person or a dog by sniffing the nether regions.
In fact, scientific experiments have even found that dogs can sniff out certain medical conditions.
Cancer, narcolepsy, and migraines are among a few of the conditions that dogs can detect. Service dogs are often used to determine a possible medical concern.
They are being increasingly studied to figure out just how they can do so.
The scientific community and dog behaviorists have determined that surges in hormones are likely responsible. With more research, it’s possible that early detection by canines can save lives.
Scent Rules A Dog’s Life
It can be very embarrassing and shocking to see a dog lick your undergarments, especially when having company.
But your dog isn’t impolite; they’re simply investigating. Your scent tells them all about you, including your emotional state.
Dogs are driven by scent as their olfactory sensors range from 125 – 300 million. That number is about 10,000 – 100,000 times that of a human’s capabilities.
It’s a powerful sense that drives them to sniff everything they can.
Certain studies have shown that dogs have a 97% success rate in discovering cancer in humans. Dogs have also been found to identify when you’re sick. A dog’s body language is noted when detecting illness.
Other illnesses that canines can detect are colon cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and melanoma. They lift their snout and appear to be concentrating, then smell all around.
Intensity Of Smells
When something has a more pungent odor, dogs focus more attention on them. As mentioned before, the intensity of the genital’s concentration of scent glands attracts a dog to your crotch.
Since dirty underwear has the most intense scent, the temptation to lick undies is an opportunity to learn more about you.
Your pooch also has a pack mentality. As far as your dogs are concerned, the household is considered part of that pack, you being deemed the leader.
In the wild, members of the pack often sniff each other to gain more information about pretty much everything.
A dog can sense what another pooch has eaten or if they’re ready for mating, among other useful information. Sniffing is also a way of saying hello, even if you disagree with this instinctive habit.
Is Your Dog Smelling Your Underwear Because They’re Teething?
At times a teething puppy may use your undergarments to ease any discomfort their new teeth are causing.
Your scent likely soothes them a bit mentally, and the act of chewing could be just a way to comfort their aches. Chewing itself can be troublesome in more than one way; dogs can choke on the fabric too.
If the act becomes troublesome, contact your veterinarian. They can recommend effective toys or other options to alleviate teething discomfort.
Your Scent Can Deter Predators
Dominant-smelling dogs often deter predators. The pungent smell from your dog engulfing themselves in your scent acts as a defense against them.
The act of licking and otherwise rolling around in your underwear and other clothes provides the necessary ingredient.
Your dog might also be trying to protect you. It’s possible that your dog might be trying to absorb your scent to smell like you because he loves you.
Dogs Licking Underwear: Possible Behavioral Disorders
There are a few behavioral disorders that can cause strange behavior. If a dog is obsessively licking things or chewing incessantly, it may need to see a veterinarian.
Other problems that require a doctor’s attention include food guarding and strange behavior.
If a dog’s personality changes noticeably, contact a vet.
Does Your Dog Have Anxiety?
Like cats, dogs can find relief in laying on your dirty laundry. Anxiety, separation anxiety, in particular, can be frustrating for any animal. In your absence, your clothes remind your furry friend of you.
Rolling in your clothes or licking and chewing your undergarments might help them destress. To assist your pet in relaxation, consider taking long walks or visiting a dog park.
In some instances, excessive licking (clothes, people, or themselves) can be a symptom of a bigger problem.
If your dog is experiencing more extreme behavior, such as increased separation anxiety, call your vet. When in doubt, they’re the experts.
Spending more time with your pup is very important. They need daily stimulation, and your affections are poured onto them. Staying close to you is vital for your bond.
The common trope about dogs waiting all day patiently for their owner to return appears to be true. Your bond is a special one. Your dog will thank you, and so will his anxiety.
Is Your Dog Bored?
Boredom and anxiety can look very similar as they can appear the same. The lack of stimulation is a leading cause of boredom and destructive behavior.
If your undies are anywhere within range, there’s a chance your dog will lick or rip them up.
One way of curing boredom would be to increase playtime and take them on more frequent walks. New chew toys can alleviate their lack of engagement when you’re away as well.
If the behavior increases dramatically, a call to your veterinarian is in order.
As with anxiety, bored dogs can be very destructive. Playing with them when you’re off work can help deter naughty behavior. A trip to the dog park and a treat could help as well.
Most dogs seem to be able to curb their boredom with distractions.
Be sure to stimulate them plenty when you are home to keep the destruction of your home (and undergarments) to a minimum. Loneliness can lead to boredom or anxiety, so some additional love could really help.
Tips For Stopping Your Dog From Licking Underwear
Keeping your dirty laundry out of your pooch’s reach is optimal. Though you can’t keep an eye on your dog at all times, if they can’t reach it, they can’t lick, sniff, or otherwise destroy it.
Some dogs are resourceful, so when in doubt, shut the laundry door behind you.
Distraction is helpful to gain the attention of your pup in instances where your dog is headed for trouble. Toys, petting, playing or giving them a snack can help move them away from the situation.
Redirection comes in handy for all kinds of problems, so brush up or learn new ways to occupy them.
Remember, dogs run on instinct. Certain behaviors are entirely normal. You can take steps to keep your pet content at home.
Each dog has different needs, so solutions might not work on every dog, but a dog needs exercise each day. To stimulate their bodies and minds, consider a frisbee or a new ball for new activities.
Don’t forget to put a lid on your hamper.
Tips For When Your Dog Gets Too Personal With Guests
If your dog is sniffing at a guest’s privates, you might distract them from stopping the behavior. As with young children, redirection can help a great deal in many situations.
Your guest may not understand exactly why your dog is giving them so much attention. Feel free to enlighten them with your newfound knowledge.
Some dogs will need more serious intervention. If the behavior worsens and the obsessions with licking and chewing intensify, keep notes on frequency and diet.
Additional training for puppies with these problems might be necessary to curb unwanted behavior.
Why does my dog eat grass?
Dogs eat a lot of things we think they shouldn’t. Some say dogs eat grass as a way to settle their stomach. Others suggest they eat it to curb boredom.
Research suggests it’s a potential sign of a lack of fiber in the diet. Pica (eating unordinary items) is a symptom of a nutritional deficiency.
Why do dogs lick me?
Dogs lick people they like. It’s a sign of affection as well as grooming. They might also lick you to communicate a want or need.
It could also be a desire for attention from you, or they are showing their submission to their pack leader (you!).
Why do dogs sniff each other?
Dogs sniff each other as a way to learn more about each other. It’s also a salutation, like two people shaking hands upon meeting.
Sniffing others tells them about several other things, including where they’ve been and who they have had contact with.
Stacy is a lifelong animal lover who truly believes life just isn’t complete without pets. She’s had pets her whole life (including three dogs and a cat living under the same roof, somewhat harmoniously). She currently resides in NOLA with her husband, son, and two pups, Scooby “Dooby” Doo and Zoey. Stacy always makes a point to learn everything she can about her fur babies, and she has been writing about the pet-parent life for over two years.