If your dog has been putting its paw on its face a lot, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do about it.
So, why does my dog paw at its face? Possible reasons why your dog puts its paw on its face are that it is anxious, it is trying to hide, it has a rash, something is stuck on its face or that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded.
Since there are a number of possible causes, it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely. Once you have a good idea of the main cause, it should become a lot easier to get your dog to stop doing it.
Why your dog puts its paw on its face
Below are a number of possible causes and what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason.
It is anxious
Sometimes, dogs will rub themselves a lot when they are anxious, especially on the face and nose (source). It might be the case that your dog has been doing it because something has been causing it to be anxious. This would be more likely if it has started doing it suddenly and if it tends to do it more at certain times such as when you are about to leave home.
It is trying to hide
The cause could be that it is trying to hide itself. This would be more likely if it does it more when someone is around that it does not like, if it does it when you are annoyed with it or when it has done something that it knows you will not like.
The reason could also be that it has a rash on its face. This would be more likely if it has started rubbing its face a lot suddenly and if it has been doing it excessively. In this case, it would help to get help from a vet.
Something stuck on its face
Another possible cause could be that it has something stuck on its face. This would be more likely if it has started doing it suddenly, it has been rubbing a certain part of its face a lot and if you can see that something is stuck there.
Encouraging the behavior
It could also be the case that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. If you tend to give it things such as toys, treats or extra attention, when it puts its paw on its face, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Things to consider
Below are a number of things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
What else happened when your dog first started putting its paw on its face a lot
If it did not always put its paw on its face, it would help to consider what else happened when your dog first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it could be the case that it learned that the behavior is rewarded, something caused it to start being anxious or it might have gotten a rash.
What is different when it does not do it
If it does not always put its paw on its face, it would also help to consider what is different in the timing that it tends to do it. For example, if it tends to do it more when you normally leave home, it could be because it is anxious.
The body language it shows
It would also help to consider the type of body language it shows when it does it. If it does it when looking at you, it makes itself appear smaller and it tries to hide, it would be much more likely to be doing it due to being anxious.
Whereas, if it rubs its face excessively but it does not show signs of being anxious, it would make it more likely to be due to having a rash or something stuck on its face.
What to do about your dog putting its paw on its face
Below are some options you have when getting your dog to stop doing it.
Avoid encouraging it
As mentioned above, it could be the case that it has learned that it gets rewards for putting its paw on its face. Instead, it would help to reward it when it behaves the way you want it to and to try to avoid giving it any rewards when it does it unless it’s due to something such as a rash.
Reduce reasons why it might be anxious
It could be the case that something has been causing it to be anxious and it would help to limit possible reasons why it might be anxious. Possible options would be to ensure that it gets to pee, eat and get exercise before you leave it and to avoid making it stay in areas that it does not want to.
Take it to a vet
If it has been doing it excessively or you cannot figure out why your dog has been doing it, it would help to take it to a vet. By doing so, you should be able to get expert advice tailored towards your particular dog and to rule out the possibility of it being due to illness or injury.
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