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11 Surprising Reasons Why Your Dog Sniffs Your Eyes

Why Does My Dog Sniff My Eyes

It’s true that dogs are fond of sniffing everything. 

You’ll often see them smell different objects. Or places and animals (dead or alive). 

And of course, their favorite human! 

But your pooch only sniffs a certain part of your body. 

Which might make you wonder:

“Why does it have to be my eyes?”

Continue reading to find out:

  • Common diseases that dogs can detect by sniffing. 
  • 11 surprising reasons why your dog sniffs your face.
  • An easy trick to use a dog’s sniffing ability in scent detection. 
  • And a lot more…

Why does my dog sniff my eyes?

Your dog sniffs your eyes because of affection. Or for attention, due to excitement, instinct, or getting rewarded. They might also do this to greet, investigate, check your health, be familiar with your eye’s scent. They could smell something pleasant, or new odors from your eyes. 

11 reasons why your dog sniffs your eyes

#1: This is Fido’s expression of love

For sure you love your dog.

But did you know that your pooch loves you too?

Dr. Coren says that dogs are capable of love and to feel loved. And canines have different ways of expressing this emotion.

Some pooches may convey their love by sniffing their dog parent’s eyes.

This could be the case if they stare into your eyes. And then proceed on sniffing them. Or vice versa.

A study shows that mutual gazing between dogs and their humans increases the release of oxytocin in dogs.

“Hold on! What’s that?”

Oxytocin a.k.a. the love hormone. Which humans and dogs alike have.

This hormone helps build:

  • Love.
  • Trust.
  • Bonding.

#2: Your dog is excited

Are you fond of making your dog excited?

If so, then your dog might sniff your eyes due to excitement.

This will be the case if your dog starts to sniff your eyes while you’re doing something. 

Especially if it’s something exciting and can be really fun for them. Such as opening a bag of treats or taking their toys out. 

And they may happen to be near your face during that time. Which makes your eyes accessible for their sniffing frenzy. 

Your dog might do this unconsciously. Just like a part of their zoomies that they can’t control. 

Also, you’ll know if your dog’s excited through their body language. Watch out for:

  • Ears down.
  • A soft gaze.
  • Open mouth.
  • Relaxed eyes.
  • Smooth brows.
  • Hanging tongue.
  • Tail high and wagging.
  • Relaxed body posture.

Aside from that, some dog breeds get more excited than others. Especially the hyperactive ones. Here are some of them:

  • Collie.
  • Beagle.
  • Maltese.
  • Bichon Frise.
  • Labrador Retriever. 
  • English Toy Spaniel. 

Reading tip: 17 Hyperactive Dog Symptoms + 11 Tips To Calm Down Your Dog

#3: Your pooch is seeking attention

Your Dog Sniffs Your Eyes To Seek Attention

Sniffing your eyes could also be your dog’s way of grabbing your attention.

Think about it. Sniffing your eyes is like forcing you to pay attention. 

This will make your dog see you face to face. And they can also make sure that you’re focused on them.

You won’t be able to see anything else but their noses.

Plus, it’s a more polite way of seeking your attention. Rather than vocalizing, being destructive, or aggressive.

This might feel like they’re invading your personal space. But this could be the best attention-grabbing move for your pooch. 

#4: Your pawed baby is greeting you 

Wolves are a dog’s ancestors. And in the past, they’ve made good use of sniffing in socializing.

They actually use this behavior as a form of greeting their pack members. And canines have adopted this too.

Now, in domestication, your pooch might sniff your eyes for the same reason. Also, add the fact that you’re considered as their (human) pack. 

And this would be the case if they also sniff other parts of your face. Which includes your mouth and nose.

Particularly if this behavior occurs when you just got home as if saying:

“Welcome home, Hooman.”

Or when waking up in the morning to express their:

“Good morning, Mom/Dad.”

Further reading: 11 Reasons Why Your Dog Sniffs Your Face (Every Morning)

#5: This is a part of Fido’s primary instinct 

“Dogs are born to sniff.”

The usual comment I hear from dog parents. And even from those who’re not.

Particularly if people see dogs stop from walking to sniff around. Say they smell the grass, trees, or even passers by.

You see, sniffing is a natural thing for canines.

They use their nose to explore and learn from their surroundings. That’s maybe why they’re blessed with an extreme sense of smell.

A canine’s sense of smell is about 10,000 to 100,000 times better than humans. And they can actually smell anything from 20 km. away. Which makes it understandable that they use this particular sense more than others.

Now, for the eye sniffing case. Your dog might be doing this because of a push from their instinct. They might just be exploring their favorite human’s scent.

And your pawed baby is doing it through smelling certain parts of your body. In this case, it’s your eyes.

#6: Fido is investigating you 

Sniffing your eyes might be your fur baby’s way of investigating you. Which is also a product of a dog’s sniffing instinct.

A dog can smell far and lots of odors, right?

But Fido’s smelling ability doesn’t stop there. When they detect scents, they also analyze them.

“Really? How can they do that?”

It can be done because of the brain’s olfactory system. Which is a part of the brain that’s responsible for analyzing odors.

Humans and dogs alike have an olfactory system. However, the dog’s one is 40 times better.  

So, this can also be the case when your dog sniffs your eyes. They might investigate the different scents that they smell on it. Such as the saltiness coming from your tears.

Aside from that, a dog’s scent analysis can be useful for professional work. Particularly in the investigation and detection of certain substances. Which includes:

  • Drugs.
  • Explosives. 
  • Pursuing suspects.
  • Finding dead bodies

In fact, there are dog breeds that are meant for that work. Since they have a better sense of smell than the others. And these are:

  • Bloodhound.
  • Basset Hound.
  • Belgian Malinois. 
  • Golden Retriever.
  • German Shepherd.
  • Labrador Retriever. 
  • Bluetick Coonhound.

Note: Don’t expect your dog to successfully detect things by sniffing in an instant. Canines can only master scent detecting if they’re trained to do so. 

Now, if you’re planning to train your pooch with scent detection, I have some advice for you. 

If you’re wondering where to begin, you may start with teaching Fido the:

The “Find it” trick

This trick will teach your dog how to find and eliminate certain scents. And this can be done by following these steps:

  1. Choose any object to imprint your scent on. For example, socks or a piece of cloth.
  2. Rub the object between your hands. So it’ll absorb your scent.
  3. Make your dog sniff the scented object. Do this repetitively and reward them for doing so. 
  4. Increase the duration of your dog’s exposure to the scent. Make them sniff the scented object for a longer period of time. It doesn’t have to be really long. A second or 2 will do in the meantime. Again, reward them if they’re successful. 
  5. Now that your dog is familiar with the scent, you may proceed to the next step. And this is by placing the same object but unscented in front of your pooch. Place it together with the scented one. 
  6. Let them choose where the scented one is. Reward your pooch if they stayed or smelled on the scented object longer. 
  7. To increase the challenge, try switching the objects. Again, let Fido find where the scented object is. And also be consistent in rewarding them. 
  8. Continue practicing and you may also add the number of objects as you go along. It’ll help your dog enhance their smelling ability more. 

For a more in-depth tutorial, watch this video:

#7: Your fur baby is checking your health

Your dog sniffs your eyes because they might detect a change in your health. 

A human’s scent changes when we’re sick. And canines use their intense smelling to tell if the person is healthy or sick.

According to a dog parent, her pooch kept on sniffing her one eye. And this behavior lasted for a couple of months. 

Since she just had eye laser surgery in her both eyes. Her dog sniffing her eyes caused her to panic a little. She’s worried that it might mean something. 

Recently, she decided to see an opthalmologist. That’s when she was diagnosed with macular degeneration, a common eye disorder. Which causes blurry and loss of vision in the center part of the eye. 

After that, she thought that her dog’s sniffing behavior was due to her eye problem. 

Your dog might also do this to you for the same reason. Particularly if the behavior is repetitive and would last for months. 

Warning: Be careful if your dog sheds a lot of fur. It may get into your eyes and cause an infection. Which will also change your eyeball’s odor. 

Here’s how you can spot symptoms of eye infections:

  • Eye pain.
  • Redness.
  • Eye discharge.
  • Excessive tearing.
  • Blurred or decreased vision. 

Other than that, canines may also detect other diseases. And this has been proved by research.

A study suggests that dogs can detect cancer at any four of its stages. Trained dogs showed 88% of accuracy in detecting breast cancer. While they’re 99% accurate in determining lung cancer.

Also, a recent study shows that trained sniff dogs can detect COVID-19. 8 German Shepherds were trained for 1 week. Results showed that they can successfully detect the virus with 94% accuracy. 

#8: This might be a reinforced behavior 

How did you respond when your dog sniffed your eyes?

Did you tell them “No.” or petted your pooch to stop them?

If you answered yes to any, then you made the behavior rewarding for Fido.

Dog parents often do this unknowingly. Your intention might be to stop them from doing the behavior. But your dog takes this in a different way.  

By responding to dogs, they’ll think that they’re being rewarded with attention. 

And dogs love rewards, right?

As a result, they’ll likely repeat sniffing your eyes. And that comes with hopes of getting your attention. That’s exactly how a reinforced behavior will look like. 

#9: Your dog smells something nice 

A dog’s prominent sense is their sense of smell.

In fact, this can make them attracted to certain odors. This may also be the reason why your pooch sniffs your eyes.

Let’s say you’re wearing an eye product. Scented eye cream for example. This might cause your dog to adore the smell of it. And make them sniff your eyes more.

Trivia: Did you know that there are scents that make dogs relaxed?

Study shows that dogs that 4 certain odors make dogs less stressed. And also causes them to vocalize less. These scents are:

  • Vanilla.
  • Ginger.
  • Valerian.
  • Coconut.

#10: Your pooch is sensing a new smell

Dogs get curious when they sense different odors. What’s more, is new scents pique their interest.

And this is also a possible reason why your dog sniffs your eyes.

This is particularly brought about by neophilia.

Wondering what’s that?

It’s an attraction for new things. Which also applies to new scents.

This would be the case if your dog often displays enthusiasm when there’s new stuff. Such as being excited when they have a new toy. Or when there are new people around.

They might respond the same if there’s something new on or around your eyes.

If you’re a woman, it might be your eye makeup. Or fake big lashes, if you wear such. Or it could also be the new scent coming from your hair. Say you’ve been using a new shampoo or conditioner.

#11: Your pooch is familiarizing your eye’s scent

A human’s body parts smell different from each other. For example, your arms smell different from your armpits. 

Ever wonder why?

It’s because the most hidden parts of the body are moist. Such as your armpits and crotch area. 

Aside from the moisture, they also produce sweat. And this will cause a change in the body part’s scent. 

These scents will cause dogs to sniff the area. This is to recognize the odors. After that, they’ll acknowledge the scents. They’ll make a mental note that the scents belong to their human.

This applies to your eyeballs too. Considering the eye discharge coming from it. Such as your tears and eye gunks. These smells could be drawing your dog to sniff your eyes.