If your dog often headbutts you, this post will show you why and what you can do about it.
So, why does my dog headbutt me? Likely reasons why your dog headbutts you are that It makes your dog feel safer, it is trying to remind you to give it something, it is playing or that it is trying to get attention from you.
There are actually a number of reasons why your dog might headbutt you and it could be due to a combination of reasons. However, there are some things you can consider to help figure out the main cause and there are some things you can do about it.
Why does my dog headbutt me?
Below are likely reasons why your dog has been doing it and what would make each of them more likely.
It makes your dog feel safer
Dogs evolved as pack animals so they will naturally feel safer when they are around other dogs in the pack or people. The cause of your dog pushing its head onto you is likely be that it makes it feel safer. This would be more likely if your dog headbutts you at random times throughout the day and it does not seem to be trying to get something from you when it does it.
Another possible reason is that your dog has some separation anxiety. This is where your dog gets anxious when you are not around and when you are leaving. This would be more likely if your dog tends to headbutt you just before you leave home or when you are going to bed at night. It would also be more likely if it shows other signs of being anxious such as by crying or pacing when you are leaving.
Your dog wants attention
The cause could also be that it is looking for attention. This would be more likely if it does it more when you have not been giving it much attention and if you tend to give it more attention when it does it.
If you want to get your dog to stop, it would help to give it attention throughout the day but to avoid rewarding it with attention when it pushes its head on you. To do this you would get it to stop doing it, wait for it to calm down and then to give it attention and to repeat the process if it starts doing it again.
Your dog wants something from you
The cause might also be the that it wants something and it is trying to let you know. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more at a certain time such as when you would normally feed it or take it for a walk and if your dog becomes excited when it is doing it.
Your dog is playing
It could also be the case that your dog is playing with you when it does it. This would be more likely if it shows signs of excitement when it does it and if it also does things such as jump on you or bring you a ball.
Encouraging the behavior
It might also be the case that your dog has learned that the behavior is rewarded. If you tend to give your dog things such as toys, treats or extra attention, when it headbutts you, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Your dog is showing affection
It might also be the case that your dog is just showing you affection. This would be more likely if your dog also does things such as get you to pet it and if it tends to do it more when it is sitting down with you.
Your dog is spreading its scent onto you
The reason why it does it might also be to spread its scent onto you so that other animals smell it and are less likely to approach you. This would be more likely if your dog rubs itself on you when it headbutts you.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider to help figure out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
If your dog has always pushed its head into you
If your dog did not always headbutt you, it would help to consider what else happened when your dog first started doing it since it might be the case that there was an event that caused it to start.
If your dog started headbutting you suddenly, it could be due to things such as you not giving it as much attention as normal, a change in the time that you normally feed or walk it or another change in its environment causing it to get anxious.
What is different when your dog does not headbutt you
It would also help to consider the timing of when your dog headbutts you since the timing could have something to do with it. For example, if it does it first thing in the morning, it could be the case that it is trying to get you to feed it. Whereas, if it does it when you are leaving home or going to bed, the cause could be that it has some separation anxiety.
The type of body language your dog shows
It would help to consider the body language your dog shows when it headbutts you. If it shows positive signs such as wagging its tail, having its tongue out and jumping up at you, it would be more likely that it is being affectionate. Whereas, if it shows fearful signs such as shaking, hiding behind you or making itself appear smaller, it would be more likely to be due to things such as fear or anxiety.
What to do about my dog headbutting me?
Below are some things to do about your dog headbutting you.
Avoid encouraging it
As mentioned above, it might be the case that your dog has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. Instead, it would help to reward your dog when it behaves the way you want it to and to avoid rewarding it, with things such as extra attention, when it does not.
Give it attention throughout the day
It would also help to give your dog attention throughout the day, in the form of exercise, play and by petting it, so that your dog does not feel the need to get attention from you as much.
Feed and exercise it at a regular time
If it seems like your dog has been headbutting you because it is hungry or wants exercise, it could also help to give it food and exercise at regular times daily so that your dog knows when it can expect to get them.
Limit reasons why it might be anxious
It would also help to try to limit reasons why it might be anxious such as by letting it stay in a quieter room or feeding it and giving it exercise before leaving it alone for a while.