A lot of us think that sniffing is an acceptable and even necessary way to get our hands on a bit of fresh air.
But according to an article in the Journal of Applied Animal Behavior, we need to be careful about what we’re doing to our dogs and cats.
The article explains that “sniffers” are a group of people who “exaggerate their sneezing to elicit information about an individual, a situation, or an object.”
It goes on to say that sniffers often don’t know that they’re doing anything wrong.
The dog sniffing technique, called “examining” or “exposing,” is the practice of putting a finger inside a dog’s mouth and taking a sniff.
The study authors point out that “exposure can be misinterpreted as a positive behavior, a reward, or a signal of distress.”
Here’s what it’s all about: The article goes on: Exposing the snout can elicit positive or negative behaviors, depending on the dog’s level of familiarity and whether the dog was trained to sniff the object.
For example, sniffing a cat can be a positive or aversive behavior, depending whether the cat was trained by the owner to sniff or not.
Exposing a dog to the scent of a cat is aversive and potentially stressful, but it is beneficial to the dog, the study authors write.
It is believed that this type of exposure has helped many dogs to learn how to interact with people and others, the authors write, adding that “this training effect can be replicated in other settings such as social interactions with other dogs and humans.”
When you put a finger in a dog, there’s no “snippet of information” that the dog will get from the scent.
That means that the person can’t know how much they’re getting out of it.
The authors of the study write that this is important because people who are sniffing are not doing it for the right reasons.
They’re doing it because they want to see if they can make a connection with a person or get something out of the conversation.
In other words, they want someone to come in the room and sniff their breath and figure out whether it’s something that’s helpful or something that might hurt someone else.
The paper goes on, “It is not clear that people are actually interested in sniffing objects or people or that they seek out the information, because they are not interested in doing it on purpose.”
Instead, they might be looking for something to get their attention.
In this situation, “expecting to find something of interest, a positive response, or recognition of positive action, may result in a positive outcome,” the authors say.
They add that “people may be more interested in the smell of the person in question than the scent itself.”
The authors conclude that they need to “avoid using exorbitant amounts of force to sniff” and that “the need to identify an object should be minimal and should be focused on how the object will benefit the individual dog or person who is sniffing.”
Read more about dogs and sniffing in our story about why people often ask their dogs to sniff their hair.