It has long been a puzzling and sometimes horrifying experience for dog owners to watch their furry companions sniff each other where the sun doesn’t shine. Despite our obsession with the canine, many people remain in the dark about why dogs greet each other with a beeline to the rear.

It turns out that just as humans collect preliminary information from people they first meet using visual and auditory cues, as well as verbal and body language, dogs use these things in addition to chemicals found in their new friends’ anal sacs. These chemicals give the smell-ers helpful information about the smell-ees, including their sex, diet, the state of their immune systems, and their current moods.

While it’d be unheard of for a human to sniff another human’s anal region upon first meeting (at least in public), it’s as normal and typical for a dog to do so as it would be for humans to shake hands. In contrast to what humans so fondly like to think, the world does not revolve around us, and all species have different ways of engaging with each other that don’t necessitate a stern, “Fido, no!”

However, since some of us just love to pretend dogs are humans, dressing them like people and throwing them birthday parties, maybe it’s time for some good ol’ respectful reciprocation. Next time your dog is sniffing another dog’s butt, I think it’s only fair if you get down on all fours and see what all the fuss is about. Know more.