Tis the season for putting ornaments on trees, hanging stockings from the mantle, and, if you’re a dog, placing your nose directly into the crotch of any and all visitors who drop by the house for a bit of Christmas cheer.
Ah yes, the crotch sniff, next to the leg hump about the most embarassing behavior — for us, anyway — that our dog can engage in.
If you’ve ever wondered why your dog, while showing little or no interest in your crotch, is so fascinated by the laps of visitors, help is on the way.
That sketch on the left shows where dogs sniff their owners — mostly, as you can see by the lines and darkened areas, the arms and face.
The one below shows where dogs sniff strangers, and there seems a much greater focus on the groin.
This comes courtesy of our friend Julie Hecht, who produces the blog Dog Spies. She’s nosing through existing research, and has posted the first of a two-part series on the phenomenon.
Hecht works with Alexandra Horowitz at the Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College, which regularly tries to figure out why dogs do the things they do — the scientific reasons, as opposed those we tend to arrive at anthropomorphically.
“Behavioural variability of olfactory exploration of the pet dog in relation to human adults.”
(Riotous bunch, those scientists.)
For their sniffing simulation, researchers had human volunteers lay motionless on the floor with their eyes closed for five minutes.
The researchers first observed pet dogs sniffing their owners. Then they watched as dogs sniffed an unknown person. They kept count of the areas sniffed, and made charts. (I’m guessing they didn’t use those red arrows, though.)
Dogs spent more time sniffing strangers than their owners, and, with strangers, more time poking about the crotch zone.
The simple explanation: Your dog already has a good sense of how you and most regular visitors smell. With a new person though, they tend to want to get better aquainted. They do that primarily with their noses.
As for why they sniff where they sniff, I don’t know — and I’m hoping part two of Julie’s post will clear the air and explain the allure of the crotch; whether it’s a matter of going for the most pungent spot, or the most personal and guarded one, or if maybe it, scent wise, it’s simply the most revealing.
Dog only knows.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 14th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alexandra horowitz, animals, aroma, barnard college, behavior, body, crotch, dog, dog cognition lab, dog spies, dogs, explained, exploration, filiatre, getting acquainted, groin, humans, julie hecht, lap, meeting, olfactory, pets, regions, research, scents, science, scientists, smell, sniff, sniffing, study
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of some our dog-blogging peers.
Foley Monster, a highly respected Yorkshire terrier whose blog is among those on our recommended reading list (see blogroll in our right hand column) has apologized to constituents for Tweeting photos of her crotch area.
In a statement issued last week Foley Monster (A) denied the photo circulating through Twitter was her, (B) admitted it was, (C) denied Tweeting it, (D) admitted she did, and then (E) fell back on the “everybody does it” defense.
“Let me state first of all, that is not a picture of me,” Foley Monster said. “There are plenty of adorable, fit, super sexy Yorkshire Terriers out there and that could be any one of us … Oh all right. That is me. I mean who am I trying to kid? Who else could be that adorable?”
After admitting the crotch in question belonged to her, Foley Monster first blamed hackers, or jealous enemies, or family members for Tweeting the photo, then admitted she had done it.
In a blog post, Foley Monster (that’s her to the left) backs up her statement with a portfolio of pooches shamelessly exposing their groins for all to see.
Dogs, it seems, will be dogs.
“I know that this behavior must be a great shock to my family … I would like to apologize to my constituents,” Foley Monster said. “ …. I know you have always trusted me to make the best decision for you and instead of doing so I’ve been spreading my fluffy over six continents …
“To be clear I have not met any of these dogs or had a physical relationship of any kind. I haven’t told the truth and I’ve done things I deeply regret. I once bit a squirrel in Reno just to watch it die…
Foley Monster goes on to confess all her other sins.
“I brought pain to those dogs who trust me, and most of all believe in me … In closing I would like to say I am deeply ashamed of my terrible judgement and actions. But I’m not going to stop. If you would like more dirty pictures of me please let me just drop me an e-mail. I can’t stop now and disappoint my fans.
“That would make me some kind of Weiner.”
(Photos of Foley Monster and that immodest black and white dog courtesy of Foley Monster and Pocket)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 12th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, anthony weiner, behavior, congress, crotch, dogs, dogs will be dogs, foley monster, genitalia, groin, humor, internet, pets, photos, pictures, politics, privates, representative, terrier, twitter, weiner, yorkshire