If your dog has been nudging you a lot, you might be wondering why and what would you should do about it. In this post, I’ll show you a number of possible causes and what you can do about them.

So, why does my dog nudge me? Common reasons why dogs nudge their owners are that the dogs want something such as food or exercise, they want to be pet, they are anxious or fearful or that they have learned that the behavior is rewarded.

Since there are a number of possible causes, it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason. Once you have a good idea of the main cause, it should become a lot easier to get it to stop.

Reasons why your dog nudges you

Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been doing it and what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason.

It wants something from you

It could be the case that it has been doing it because it wants you to give it something. This would be more likely if it does it more when you are eating or when you are holding something else that it might want such as one of its toys or a bone.

It might also be the case that it does it because it wants something from you such as to be fed or given exercise. This would be more likely if it tends to nudge you before you have given it exercise or food and it does not do it much afterward.

Encouraging the behavior

It might also be the case that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. If you tend to give it things such as: toys, treats, food or extra attention, when it nudges you, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.

It wants you to pet it

It could also be the case that it does it because it wants you to pet it. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more when you have not been giving it much attention and if it does it when it is sitting with you.

Anxiety

The cause could be that something is causing it to be anxious. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more at a certain time such as just before you normally leave home. In this case, it would be more likely that it has separation anxiety. 

Fearfulness

It could be the case that something has been causing it to be fearful. This would be more likely if it tends to nudge you at a certain time such as when there are loud noises outside or another animal around that it does not like.

Nature

Dogs were bred to be around humans for hours on a daily basis. With that being the case, it is likely that they will want to feel like they are around their owners regularly. It could be the case that your dog has been doing it naturally because it wants to feel like it is part of your pack. This would be more likely if it does it at random times and it does not seem to be doing it for a specific reason such as to be fed.

Boredom

Another possible reason is that it is bored and looking for ways to stimulate itself. This would be more likely if it does it more when it has not been getting much exercise. In this case, it would help to ensure that it is able to get the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed.

Things to consider

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

If your dog has always nudged you

If your dog has not always nudged you, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as something causing it to start being anxious or because it learned that the behavior gets rewarded.

What is different when it normally does it

It would also help to consider if there is a certain time that your dog tends to nudge you. If there is, it could be the case that the timing has something to do with it.

For example, if it tends to nudge you, when you have not been giving it attention for a while, it could be the case that it does it in order to get extra attention.

Whereas, if it does it while you are walking it, the cause would be more likely to be that touching you makes it feel safer or that it is being protective.

The body language it shows

It would also help to consider the body language it shows when it does it. If it shows signs of being anxious such as hiding its tail, it would be more likely that it is doing it due to being anxious. Whereas, if it shows signs of being excited, it would be more likely to be because it wants something such as food, exercise or attention.

What to do about your dog nudging you

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

Avoid encouraging it

It could be the case that your dog has learned that nudging you results in it getting rewards. Instead, it would help to reward it when it behaves the way you want and to avoid rewarding it, with things such as extra attention, when it does not. 

Limit reasons why it might be anxious

It would also help to limit possible reasons why it might be anxious by doing things such as ensuring that it can pee, eat and get exercise before leaving it for long time periods. 

Give it sufficient exercise

As mentioned above, it might be the case that it has been doing it in order to entertain itself. It would help to ensure that it is able to get the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed.

Give it a daily routine to get used to

Since it could be the case that it has been doing it to try to remind you about something, it could also help to try to get it used to a certain schedule. If it knows when it can expect to get things such as food or a walk, it could make it less likely to try to remind you to give it food or a walk.

Give it attention throughout the day

It would also help to give it attention throughout the day so that it is less likely to try to get attention from you. Ways to give it attention would be to exercise it, train it, play with it and pet it.

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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.