If your dog has been covering its face with its paws a lot, you’re probably wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you five common reasons why dogs do it and what your options are.

So, why does my dog cover its face with its paws? Possible reasons why your dog covers its face with its paws are anxiety, submissiveness, allergies, or itchiness.

There are actually multiple possible causes, and it might be due to a combination of causes. However, there are some things you can consider when figuring out the main causes, and there are many things you can do about them.

Reasons why your dog covers its face with its paws

Below are a number of possible causes and what would make each of them more likely to be the main cause.

Anxiety

The reason why it has been doing it might be that it is anxious. Covering the face can act as a soothing behavior and it might be the case that it is putting its paws on its face, when it is anxious, because it calms it down. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more when it is likely to be anxious such as when there are noises outside or when you are leaving home.

Submissiveness

Covering the face with its paws might also be a submissive sign. This would be more likely if it does it when it is more likely to be being submissive such as when it is around other dogs or when you are annoyed with it. It would also be more likely if it shows other submissive body language signs such as rolling onto its back or hiding its tail.

Allergies

Another possible cause is that it has allergies. This would be more likely if it has started doing it suddenly and it has been rubbing its face a lot.

Itchiness

Another possible cause is that something has been causing it to be itchy. This would be more likely if it tends to rub its face, it has been doing it at random times and if it has not been doing it excessively.

Encouraging the behavior

It could also be the case that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. If you often give it rewards such as: toys, treats or extra attention, when it puts its paws on its face, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.

The timing of when it does it

If your dog tends to do it more at a certain time, it might be the case that the timing has something to do with it. For example, if it tends to do it when another dog is around it, the cause would be more likely to be that it is being submissive.

How often your dog covers its face with its paws

It would also help to consider how often it does it. If it only does it occasionally, it would be more likely that it was just doing it because it was itchy. Whereas, if it does it a lot, it would be more likely that it does it due things such as: allergies, submissiveness, or learning that the behavior is rewarded.

If it has always done it

It would also help to consider if it has always done it or if it has started doing it suddenly. If it has started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as allergies or something causing it to become anxious.

Other body language signs that it shows

It would also help to consider other body language signs it shows when it does it. If it shows signs of excitement, like wagging its tail, it would be more likely to be doing it due to wanting rewards. Whereas, if it shows other signs of being submissive such as hiding its tail, it would be more likely that it is doing it due to being submissive.

What to do about your dog covering its face with its paws

Below are some options you have when dealing with the behavior.

Avoid encouraging it

As mentioned above, it might be the case that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. Instead, it would help to reward it when it behaves the way you want it to and to avoid rewarding it when it does not.

Limit reasons why it might be anxious

It could also help to limit reasons why it might be anxious. Ways to do so could include: letting it pee, eat and get exercise before leaving it and ensuring that the room it stays in is not to hot or noisy.

Deal with allergies

If it seems like it might be doing it due to allergies, it would also help to consider what might be causing the allergies and to take measures to deal with it. Things that might be causing the allergies could include a shampoo you’re using on your dog or your dog interacting with things it shouldn’t be.

Get help from a vet

If your dog has been doing it excessively, it would likely be best to take it to a vet for a checkup. By doing so, you should be able to rule out more serious causes and to get expert advice tailored towards your particular dog.

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I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.