If your dog has been lifting their head up when you pet them, this post will show you likely reasons why and what you can do about them.

So, why does my dog lift their head up when I pet them? Likely reasons why your dog lifts their head up when you pet them are that you are petting them too hard, they want to lick you, they want to see your hand or that they want you to stop.

There are actually a number of possible reasons why your dog lifts their head up when you pet them. 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 lift his head up when I pet him?

Below are likely reasons why your dog lifts their head up when you pet them and what would make them more likely.

Petting them too hard

The cause could be that you have been petting them too hard and you have been pushing your dog’s head back. This would be more likely if your dog also tries to get you to stop petting them, if they does not show any signs of excitement and if they lean away from you. 

They want to lick you

The reason why they do it might also be that they are trying to lick you. This would be more likely if they do tend to lick you a lot and they do lick you when you pet them. The reason why they might be trying to lick you could be that they are trying to show affection back to you. 

They want you to stop

The cause could be that they do not like being pet and they want you to stop petting them. This would be more likely if they back away when you are petting them and if they do not show signs of excitement when you are petting them. 

They want to see your hand

Another possible cause is that they are trying to see your hand and what you are doing. This would be more likely if they do not try to lick you and they do not seem to be uncomfortable with you petting them.

They think you want them to push their head back

The reason why they do it might be that they think you want them to push their head back. When you are petting them, the momentum from your hand will be making it feel like you are trying to get them to put their head back. This would be more likely if they only push their head back when you pet their head with a stroking motion.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider to help figure out the main cause.

What is different when your dog does not look up

If it does not always look up, it would help to consider what is different when they do it. For example, if they do it when lying down, it might be the case that they want you to rub its belly.

What else happened when they first started doing it

If your dog did not always do it, it would help to consider what else happened when they first started doing it. If your dog started doing it suddenly, it might be the case that you started petting them in a different way or that they stopped wanting you to pet them.

The body language they show

It would also help to consider the body language they show when they do it. If they show positive body language signs such as having their tongue out, wagging their tail and being relaxed, it would be more likely that they are doing it more due to affection or excitement.

Whereas, if they show signs of being fearful, such as pacing, backing away or crying, it would be more likely that they are doing it because they want you to stop.

What to do about my dog looking up when I pet them?

Below are some things you can do about it.

Don’t pet them too hard

As mentioned above, it might be the case that you have been petting them too hard. Instead, it would help to pet them softly or to pet them in a different way.

Allow them to continue

It is not uncommon for dogs to put their heads back when being pet. If your dog has not been showing signs of discomfort when being pet, it would likely be ok to let the behavior continue. Alternatively, you could try petting them in a different way.

Positive reinforcement training

Another option would be to give your dog positive reinforcement training. This is where you encourage the behaviors you want to see by rewarding them and avoid rewarding the behaviors you do not want to see. 

To use it to get your dog to stop putting their head back, you could immediately stop petting them and giving them attention as soon as they start to put their head back. Then, when they have calmed down, you could start petting them again until they put their head back. Repeating this process should teach them that putting their head back results in them not getting attention. 

Author

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.