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What Does It Mean When A Dog Rubs Against You?

A dog rubbing his body against you or putting his face in your face is all about context. The reasons can vary depending on what your dog is feeling or what he is trying to tell you. Most dog experts and parents agree that if a dog is rubbing his body, head, or face against your legs, arms or chest, he is trying to communicate with you.

Your dog may rub their entire body (like a cat) for reasons like showing love, greeting you, feeling secure, or simply needing a good scratch.

simply needing a good scratch.

Let’s check out the common reasons why a dog rubs his body against you!

10 Common Reasons a Dog Rubs Against You

Share Scents

We all know how good dogs are with scents. They can sniff out almost anything that comes their way. Your dog may like to smell you because he likes your scent, breath, or sweat.

If your dog sniffs while rubbing, he is probably trying to smell you. Why your dog smells you? It’s all about context. He may be doing this because he noticed a different scent from you or is trying to be protective. The protective context occurs when you play with other dogs, and your dog is not comfortable with you being around another dog.

Being Territorial

Dogs have scent glands all over their face, and by rubbing against you, they mark you with their scents. It is their way of telling other dogs to stay away from their owner. This might happen when you and your dog encounter other dogs quite frequently.

Seek Attention

So you come home late after a long day of work to see your dog rubbing against you like a cat. Many dog owners treat their pooches like babies. Your pup may do erratic things to get your attention.

One of these things is to rub his body against you or push his face in your face. The purpose here is mostly to get your attention so you can give them a special treat or take them out for a walk.

Show Love/Console You

A dog may show you his love and empathy in many different ways. One of them is to rub against you. Some dogs try to get close to you when they notice you are not feeling well, stressed, or worried over something.

Most dogs aren’t a big fan of hugging because it intimidates and puts them in a position of flight or fight. So, be careful while hugging them back. When a dog rubs you with his tail wagging, he tries to show you his love.

This love-showing rubbing can happen as a result of your various gestures. For example, your dog may be happy when you return home, treat him, or take him out for a walk.

treat him, or take him out for a walk.

Greet You

Your dog may lick or rub against you when you return home after a few hours. He will be waiting for you at the door or come running when he hears your footsteps or you parking in the garage.

So, if you notice your dog rubbing against you when you return home, it is probably a way to greet you and tell you that he is happy seeing you back home. Of course, this behavior can be stopped or changed by training your dog.

Relaxes your Dog

Dogs get stressed quickly. For example, you skip a daily routine like taking them out for a walk or giving them a treat before going out. Your canine friend will get stressed over it and may rub against you to seek attention or relax. Your dog may lay on you, keep his head on your feet, or lick your hand to show that he is stressed over something.

Separation Anxiety

Your dog may rub against you due to separation anxiety. The rubbing behavior can only be termed separation anxiety if you notice your dog getting destructive around the home in your absence. He may engage in destructive behavior around the house like nibbling things and excessive barking.

You can reduce separation anxiety by gradually increasing the time you leave your dog alone. Leaving behind treats, puzzles, and toys can also help. You can also hire a dog walker to take your dog out in your absence.

Show Submission

Your dog may show submission by bowing down to you, rubbing against you, or licking your hand. This is your dog’s way of telling you that he knows you are the leader of the pack and he is ready to obey you in every matter.

Your dog may roll over after rubbing to get belly rubs, or he may flatten/hold back his ears or lay down respectfully when approached to show submissiveness.

when approached to show submissiveness.

Habitual Behavior

If you pat or treat your dog when he rubs against you, you unknowingly encourage this behavior. The response you give your dog against every reaction reinforces the particular behavior.

For example, if you treat your dog when he rubs against you for the first time, he will think that you are happy and will engage in this behavior. On the other hand, if you order your dog to “Stop” or “Sit” and then give him a treat after some time, it reinforces that your dog must obey you to get a treat. He must not engage in such behaviors that you don’t like.

Your Dog Needs a Scratch/Medical Issues

Out of all the possible reasons, the least expected is this one. He just needs a good scratch to get rid of an itch or something making him uncomfortable. You may have seen your dog rubbing against rugs and walls.

They may prefer to rub against you when you are around. If you notice your dog trying to rub a specific spot or area against you repeatedly, check them for itches or rashes and get them treated.

How to Respond When a Dog Rubs Against You?

You can either encourage or discourage this behavior. If you encourage this behavior, please be aware that your dog will pursue it repeatedly, and you may start feeling uncomfortable after a while. Make sure you don’t hug or cuddle your dog, as this can intimidate your dog, and he may resort to violence to free him.

Don’t shout, yell, or hit your dog if you want your dog to stop. Simply command your dog to “Stop,” “Sit,” or “Leave” and reward him with a treat after he obeys you.

Tips to Stop your Dog from Rubbing against You

Identify the Root Cause

The most critical aspect of stopping unwanted dog behavior is getting to the root cause. Once you know why your dog rubs against you, you can easily train him with respect to the reason.

Train your Dog

Command your dog to “stop” or “sit” when he rubs against you or engages in unwanted behavior. Once your dog stops rubbing against you, reward him with a treat or pat him gently so he knows you appreciate him. You can hire the services of a professional dog trainer if you don’t have time to train your dog. Please be mindful that training a dog requires time, and it may take weeks or months before your dog starts obeying you.

Give your Dog what he needs

If your dog rubs against you, give him what he needs. For example, if you skipped your dog’s meal, walk, or playtime. Give him what was due.

If your dog rubs against you and you haven’t missed anything, don’t provide. This can reinforce bad behavior; your dog will repeat such actions to get things from you.

Keep your Dog Happy

An overall happy dog is less likely to engage in unwanted behavior like rubbing, licking, or pushing his head against you. Give your dog plenty of exercise, toys and feed him timely to reduce stress and anxiety.

Don’t Yell or Shout

Yelling or shouting doesn’t help. Instead, it stresses out your dog unnecessarily. Your dog may stop instantly, but yelling, shouting, or hitting makes the dog aggressive, and he may engage in destructive behavior when you aren’t around.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my dog rub himself against strangers?

A dog rubbing against a stranger is not an uncommon view. If the stranger passes the scent test, your dog marks him “safe” for him. The stranger is in for some good body rubs. Your dog is probably trying to tell the stranger he is okay with him.

Who does my dog rub against blankets, couches, and other surfaces?

It is probably to get rid of an itch or remove anything stuck in the coat. It is usually safe unless your dog starts rubbing aggressively and frequently.

Do I need to see a vet for my dog rubbing against me?

No. It doesn’t require a vet visit. If your dog does this randomly and stops when you command him to do it, there is nothing to worry about. However, if your dog starts doing it frequently or has some kind of itch or rash, you must contact a vet.

you must contact a vet


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