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Why does my dog press its head on me?

If your dog presses its head against you this post will show you a number of reasons why it might be doing it and what you can do to get it to stop.

So, why does my dog press its head on me? Possible reasons why your dog presses its head on you are that it makes it feel safer, it has separation anxiety, it is looking for attention, or that it does it to spread its scent.

There are actually a number of reasons why your dog might press its head on you and it could be due to a combination of reasons. However, there are also a number of things you can consider that will help in figuring out the exact reason.

Why your dog presses its head on you

The different reasons why your dog presses its head on you will likely come with a number of clues.

Below, I will show you a number of reasons why it might be doing it and what would make them more likely.

Dominance

The reason why it does it might be that it is being dominant. This would be more likely if it presses its head against you in a way that encourages you to move and if it does it more in situations such as when you are sat where it normally sits.

In this case, it would help to give it lots of training, as discussed below, so that it learns to see you as the leader and so that it learns how it is meant to behave.

Separation anxiety

The reason why it does it might be that it has some separation anxiety. This is where it does not like it when it is left alone and the prospect of being left alone causes it to become anxious. This would be more likely if your dog does it more when you are about to leave home and it shows signs of anxiety when you are leaving.

To stop this you could try training it to be less anxious when you are leaving home.

To do this you could do as follows:

  • Make it seem like you are about to leave by doing something such as picking up your keys
  • Reward your dog for not being anxious and repeat these two steps a few times
  • Make more moves towards actually leaving such as by picking up the keys and putting your hand on the door handle
  • Reward your dog for not being anxious and repeat the process a few times
  • Actually open the door and go outside for a few moments then come back and reward your dog
  • Repeat the above, each time staying outside for slightly longer

It wants attention

The reason why your dog presses its head on you could 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 it to stop doing it then it would help to avoid rewarding it with attention when it does it by getting it off you waiting for it to calm down and then giving it attention after.

Security

Dogs are pack animals so they will naturally feel safer when they are around other members of the pack. The reason why your dog presses its head against you could be that it makes it feel more secure.

To spread its scent

The reason why your dog presses its head on you could be that it is trying to spread its scent onto you. This would be more likely if it also becomes overly protective around other dogs.

Rewarding the behavior

It could be the case that you have trained it to press its head against you by giving it rewards when it does it. If you tend to give it things such as toys, treats or extra attention when it does it then it could be doing it more in order to get more rewards.

Instead, it would help to reward it when it is being well behaved and to try to redirect its focus when it seems like it is about to press its head against you.

Related: Why does my dog rub its head on me?

Things to consider

When your dog first started pressing its head on you

It would help to consider when your dog first started pressing its head against you since it could be the case that there was an event that caused it to start doing it.

Some things to consider would be:

  • If you moved home
  • If someone else moved away
  • If its schedule changed
  • If you started working different hours

When your dog presses its head on you

It would also help to consider whether or not there is a certain time that it tends to do it more. If there is then it would be more likely that the timing has something to do with it.

For example, if it tends to do it more when you have not given it a walk then it might be doing it to remind you to walk it.

How to get your dog to stop pressing its head on you

Below are some options you have when getting your dog to stop doing it.

Ignore it

Since it could be doing it in order to get attention from you, one option you have is to ignore it.

To do this you could try to recognize when it is about to start doing it and to redirect its focus onto something else such as a toy or laying down somewhere else.

When it does start pressing its head on you it would help to get it off you to wait for it to calm down by leaving the room if necessary and then giving it attention when it is being well behaved. If it starts to press its head on you then you would repeat the process. Doing this should help to teach it that rubbing its head on you doesn’t get it attention.

Avoid negative reinforcement training

As mentioned above, it could be the case that you have encouraged the behavior by giving it rewards when it does it. Instead, it would help to reward it only when it is behaving the way that you want it to.

Give it attention

It would also help to give it attention throughout the day in the form of training, exercise and by playing with it. Doing so should help to reduce how much it feels the need to get attention from you.

Train it not to

Another option would be to train your dog not to press its head onto you by training it to go somewhere else. You can do this by teaching it to sit or to lay down somewhere and then by gradually training it to stay there over longer and longer time periods.

You can do this by applying the same techniques as in the video below:

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