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Whenever I get home from work, I get greeted by my Great Dane. He runs up to me in the doorway and insists on kissing me, but when I walk a little further he sticks his face up my butt and tries to lick (keep in mind that I don't let him do this).

I understand why he smells me there but why does he lick?

Does this happen to anyone else, and how have other people stopped this behavior?

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I'm pretty sure most dog owners will know this behavior and/or have seen it some time (even if it's just with other dogs or cats) - it's natural and theoretically nothing bad. It's basically part of their communication with each other. There are many sources to be found with more details about this, like this article on mental_floss, where they also show a short video about it.

What they explain in the video in regards to getting to know other dogs or knowing more about them, is basically the same your dog tries with you (since you're part of the pack).

It can get awkward with other people around etc. that's true and probably the only reason you should try to get rid of it. Some might associate it with dirty underwear, but that's really just a tip of an iceberg. Dogs don't need dirty underwear to smell their owner.

Our Husky puppy showed a similar behavior, but he preferred to sniff and lick people's frontside... I guess you get the idea.

There are different methods to fight this, but most basically involve distracting the dog with something different that's far more interesting. What actually works really depends on the dog. Trial and error.

In our case I've had two distractions and they worked pretty fast (stopped doing it after just one or two weeks):

  • Start fondling the dog in a position it loves. Our dog just loves being tickled between the front legs and will instantly sit or lie down to enjoy it. No time to sniff or lick around.

  • Try a reaction similar to other dogs (not perfect for public for obvious reasons): Make a small jump/turn around, face the dog, and snort for a moment (just a second or so should be enough). This would typically get our dog to start wagging its tail and start playing with me (throwing on the ground, waiting, etc.). Sniffing and licking were no longer on the priority list.

  • Whatever you try, don't do something exclusive the dog loves. Like getting it a special treat or making this the only time of the day you play, etc. Otherwise you might get the direct opposite result: The dog would do the undesired behavior to get you to do the desired behavior (playing, treats, etc.).

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  • It isn't just dogs, of course. My cats will sniff each other's butts. They can't usually reach mine but they'll sniff my knees or armpits at times. To them, this is a somewhat nosey (pardon the pun) version of "hey, where have you been, have you eaten anything interesting lately and if so is there any for me, ..." – keshlam Mar 25 '15 at 18:40
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Dogs and cats sniff bums because the anal glands hold a lot of information, such as age, sex, point in reproduction cycle, level in pack dominance, and much more. It makes sense that animals would do this upon meeting each other, and even after knowing each other for a long time. Think of it as an animal's way of saying "How was your day? How are you feeling?" It's also an animal's way of asserting or allowing dominance. (Interesting point: when an animal lifts their bums when they get scratched, they're inviting you to sniff it!)

Obviously humans don't sniff each others bums. Our sense of smell is no where near what a dogs sense of smell is, so we don't understand why an animal might do this and an animal doesn't understand why we might find this embarrassing.

It's important that when your dog does this, you don't just distract him, unless you plan to have every visitor in your house do this. That will also train him that when he tries to sniff a humans bum, he will be rewarded. If you go that direction and then do something different when he does it to someone else, it will be extremely confusing.

Animals work by instant association. If I do this, this will happen. You need to teach him that if he tries to sniff a human in an undesirable area, something will happen. You don't need to do anything that will cause pain (and please don't), so think of something a fellow puppy or mother dog would do. If I had a dog that continued this, I would gently push his nose away, then walk away. No loud noises or sharp movements, or he'll start to associate you coming home and taking shoes and coats off with that. Act completely normal otherwise, just gently push his nose away so he's facing away from you, then act normal again. Eventually he'll make the association that doing that will cause his nose to be pushed away, much like how a fellow dog would nudge him away when he's doing something wrong, and he'll stop. Ensure that if he's doing it to company, you do the same thing. If you can tell the person before they come over the process, do. Otherwise, don't waste time telling them or the period of association will be over.

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