You’ve come home from a long work day, and your trusty hound rushes to greet you at the front door, tail wagging. It’s a familiar, happy sight. Your dog loves you. But sometimes, how dogs express love can be a bit weird.
If you’re asking yourself: Why does my dog sniff my eyes? You’ll be pleased that your dog is sending you a message. Sniffing your eyes is another way a dog communicates needs, desires or expresses its feelings.
Every dog is unique, and yours is no exception. By taking a closer look at some of the reasons dogs might be sniffing your eyes, you’ll be one step closer to understanding your dog better and building a better relationship.
Dogs are pack animals. Even though they’re not running wild like their wolf ancestors, they still have pack instincts.
In wolf packs, grooming serves an essential purpose. It allows pack members to communicate with each other, show affection, and even understand their role or place in the hierarchy. When your dog smells your eyes, they’re showing that they view you as their leader. They respect you and love you.
A similar action occurs when dogs become interested in licking mouths. In wolf packs, this action is a similar show of affection or subordination.
If you wear make-up, eye cream, or even perfume, your dog might come for a close-up inspection. Dogs are naturally curious. They use their noses to discover much of their world.
Just how strong is a dog’s sense of smell? While their human companions only have 5–6 million scent receptors in their noses. Dogs, on the other hand? Depending on the breed, they can have up to 100 million (or more!) receptors in their noses.
If your dog is smelling your eyes, consider whether you’re using a new cosmetic, eye medicine, or something else that might catch your dog’s interest.
The eyes are also exposed organs containing water, salt, and other components. Dogs enjoy damp smells, so eyes are a natural choice for sniffing.
Dogs have powerful noses, of course, but it goes beyond just sniffing out the best fire hydrants. Some dogs are even able to detect certain diseases, including cancer.
More than likely, your dog sniffing your eyes doesn’t mean you have a serious illness; human bodies still smell slightly different when people are sick. Your dog likely senses something is different even if you have a common cold.
When your eyes are watery or running or if you have some other eye-related illness, your dog might be able to smell that something is different and will want to investigate.
Dogs know the maxim, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Sometimes that means barking at the door. Other times, they’ll throw themselves directly onto your lap.
Getting up close and personal with their person is one way dogs ask for attention. And since dogs are so in-tune with human body language, they pay close attention to your eyes.
While a lack of eye contact can show that a dog is intimidated, displaying good eye contact is a highly coveted skill for dog trainers. It shows that a dog has a relationship with humans and is ready to follow their lead.
If your dog wants to go outside and can’t get your attention any other way, getting close to your face and sniffing your face (including your eyes) is a way to make that happen.
Your dog loves you. You know that. You can tell how it feels when it looks at you with big, happy eyes or brings you their favorite stuffed animal from the pile.
If you’re having a rough day, maybe even getting a little teary re-watching Marley and Me for the tenth time, your dog’s instinct is to comfort you. Many service dogs will help their people during times of emotional vulnerability.
Dogs are intuitive creatures. Even though they can’t speak, they can tell when something is wrong. Getting up close and personal and sniffing is their way of trying to help you recover or investigate what’s happening.
And as a bonus? Tears are salty and delicious, at least from a dog’s perspective.
Whether they’re looking for attention (or a treat), grooming you to show affection and love, or sniffing your eyes to check out your new mascara, they’re communicating with you.
Does this action bother you? Consider dog training. Patience is key when teaching your dog to respect your personal space.
Do you (secretly) love it when your dog does this? There’s no reason to worry. Your dog loves you and expresses love in its own strange, doggy way.