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Why Does My Dog Put His Face In My Face? [Reasons & Solutions]

Your dog putting his face in your face or nuzzling you can mean many different things. Dawn Kovell from the Marin Humane Society explained that dog nuzzling is all about context. This statement implies that there could be various reasons behind a dog putting his face in your face.

To stop this behavior, you must first know why your dog puts his face in your face. This article explains the possible reason behind this behavior and what you can do to stop him from pursuing it.

Key Takeaways

Your dog may put his face in your face to establish ownership, show love, seek attention, and show boredom, happiness, or medical problems.

The best way to respond to a dog putting his face in your face is to ignore and command him to stop, sit, or leave. Encouraging your dog may make him habitual.

To stop your dog from putting his face in your face, identify and eliminate the root cause, spend more time with your dog, and provide him with plenty of exercise and toys to play with.

and what you can do to stop him from pursuing it.

Possible Reasons your Dog puts his Face in your Face

Establish Ownership

Dogs have scent glands on their face. Your dog may be nudging you with his face to establish ownership. He does this by marking you with his scent to signal other dogs to stay away from his parents.

Show Emotions/Empathy

All dog lovers know that dogs can understand human emotions. An article published in the UK Daily Mail discusses a research conducted by Dr. Deborah Custance and Jennifer Mayer, which revealed that dogs try to show empathy and emotions when they see humans crying. During the experiment, some of the dogs pushed their face against the faces of humans to calm them.

Some dogs also had a submissive demeanor to comfort the humans around them, regardless of their owners or strangers.

Habits from Puppyhood

Puppies lick their mothers to show love and respect. Most dogs keep this habit from early life and lick their owner’s face when they feel secure around them. Nuzzling, like licking, is a pacifying behavior for dogs that shows they are relaxed when around you.

Seek Attention

Your dog may put his face in your face to get your attention and time. Your dog may want something like to give him a treat, take him out, or simply have some playing time with him. This behavior from dogs is often the last resort to seek attention as they usually engage in barking, pacing around you, and licking to get your attention.

Show Dominance

Your dog may put his face in your face to show his dominance. Usually, dogs are submissive to their owners, but sometimes, they may try to establish their dominance. They may do this to mark you with their scent to keep other dogs away. This dominance-showing behavior is not to establish dominance over you but over other dogs.

This dominance-showing behavior is not to establish dominance over you but over other dogs.

Habitual Behavior

A dog may nuzzle you if you have encouraged this behavior previously by giving your dog a treat, toy or patting him. Dogs develop habits quickly and try to repeat the habits that get them a positive response from their owners.

Boredom/Anxiety/Stress

Your dog may nuzzle or lick your face if bored, stressed, or anxious. He may try to signal you that he wants to play, go out, or he is hungry.

Itchy/Needs a Scratch

Of all the possible reasons, your dog might only be looking for a scratch or rub against you. Dogs love to rub themselves with stuff around them and don’t even spare you. Some dogs may nuzzle you after having a meal to simply remove leftovers on their face.

Medical Issues

Occasionally, a dog may bury his head against your face, neck, or chest to tell you he isn’t feeling well. Body aches, stomach issues, and anxiety can force a dog to seek comfort by touching your body. A dog with an ear infection or headache may relax against your head or chest for temporary relief.

Feeling Cold

A dog may approach you and bury their head or face against your chest, neck, or face to feel warmth. This usually happens during cold weather. Your body heat and clothes provide insulation against the cold air, and dogs feel relaxed.

Your body heat and clothes provide insulation against the cold air, and dogs feel relaxed.

How to Respond when a Dog Puts his Face in your Face?

If you encourage your dog, make sure you don’t hug or cuddle him back, as this can intimidate your dog. Dogs aren’t always comfortable when you hug or cuddle and may get stressed, anxious, or angry.  Dogs run swiftly when they are in a position of fear or intimidation. Your hugging them may deny them this behavior, and they may bite you. The best response will be to pat them and/or give them a treat.

If you don’t want your dog to nuzzle or get close to your face, you must train your dog otherwise. A simple “sit” or “stop” command will do the trick. Once the dog obeys you, give them a treat for positive reinforcement.

Yelling, shouting, or hitting will do more damage than good. It will hurt your dog’s emotions and may stress him out.

Important Considerations while Investigating your Dog’s Behavior

  • If your dog puts his face in your face for the first time, it is important to consider what happened before it. Knowing the events right before this behavior can help you stop it by simply not repeating what you did or what your dog experienced.
  • Your dog may become habitual of putting his face in your face if you reward this behavior.
  • He may put his face in your face if you change your routine with the dog. For example, you stopped giving him treats, playing with him, or taking him out for a walk.

Tips to Stop Your Dog Putting His Face in Your Face

Get to the Root Cause

The most important part of stopping a dog from putting his face in your face is to find the root cause. It will help you develop a better framework to stop him from nuzzling you. Let’s check out common ways you can discourage nuzzling.

Don’t Encourage

Many dog owners reward their dogs with a treat or pat when they see loving or positive behavior from a dog. Dogs then make it a habit and repeat it regularly. You must simply command your dog to stop or sit down and then reward it with a treat for positive reinforcement. This will communicate to your dog that nuzzling is not acceptable.

Keep your Dog Engaged and Happy

A great way to stop unwanted behaviors from your dog is to keep him happy by giving him plenty of exercise and playtime. A well-fed dog with regular walks and exercise don’t get stressed out and stays relaxed.

A well-fed dog with regular walks and exercise don’t get stressed out and stays relaxed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my Dog trying to put his face on Strangers?

A dog may try to put his face on a stranger to smell him. If he likes the scent, he may further nudge his face and rub his head against the person’s face or body to show submission and extend friendship. This behavior may not be present in all breeds.

Why does my Dog Lay on my Face?

Your dog may lay on his face due to various reasons. The most common and widely accepted reasons are being jealous or protective. Some people have more than one dog at home, and dogs get jealous among themselves. They try to get close to your face to show love and get love in return.

They may also lay on your face out of protectiveness. Your dog may judge that you aren’t feeling well or stressed out.

Why does my Dog put his head under my Chin?

A dog may put his head under your chin to show submissiveness. Your dog is trying to yell you that you are the boss, and he will obey you in every condition. A dog may also do this to get your love, as most humans pat their dogs when they get close amiably. Your dog may also put his head under your chin to smell and get close to you.

Why is my Dog putting his Face in other Dogs’ Faces?

Your dog may put his face in another dog’s face to show submission or dominance. When a smaller or less powerful dog nudges a larger or more powerful dog, it is to show submission. When a larger or more powerful dog nudges a smaller dog, it is to assert his dominance.

Can I put my face in my Dog’s face?

Yes, you can, but it is not a good idea. It can be dangerous as your dog may get scared or feel intimidated and bite you. If your dog is fully trained and well-behaved, he will start licking you. Even licking is not considered healthy, as a dog’s saliva contains bacteria.

Why does my Dog Paw at my Face?

He is trying to communicate with you and probably wants to play with you or take him out. If your dog has a habit of pawing at your face or body, you must train him not to engage in such behaviors. Make sure you keep his nails trimmed all the time to avoid scratches or bruises.

Why does my Dog bury his head under my Arm?

Your dog may bury his head under your arm to feel secure and seek comfort. Fearful or stressed dogs often do. Getting under your arm relaxes them, and dogs feel protected.

Why do Dogs bury their head in blankets or couches?

Dogs bury their head in blankets or couches to feel secure and relaxed. They may also do this to regulate body temperature. Staying close to a blanket or couch keeps the dogs warm and cozy.

Should I consult a Vet if my Dog puts his Face in mine?

Not immediately. However, if you see something is wrong with your dog, who is no longer interested in your daily routine or has given up being playful or happy, contact your vet to discuss the problem. Your dog may have an underlying medical condition that needs attention.

Final Words

The most common reason a dog puts his face in your face, neck, or chest is to get attention. Most dog owners say their dogs engage in such activities when they don’t give their pooch ample time or ignore him. Your canine friend will probably engage in such behavior when you are using a laptop, playing games, or watching TV.

The most important thing is how you respond. It is up to you to encourage or discourage your dog. Whatever you do, do not shout, yell, or get rude with your dog.

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