If your dog has been rubbing its body on you 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 them.
So, why does my dog rub its body on me? Possible reasons why your dog rubs its body on you are that it wants attention from you, it makes your dog feel safer, it’s being affectionate, it’s being anxious, spreading its scent or liking the way it feels.
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 cause, it should become easier to get your dog to stop doing it.
Why your dog rubs its body on you
Below are a number of reasons why your dog might have been rubbing its body on you and what would make them more likely to be the main reason.
It gets rewards for doing it
The cause could be that it has learned that it gets rewards for doing it. If you tend to give your dog things such as belly rubs, extra attention or other rewards, when it rubs its body on you, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
It is being affectionate
The cause could be that it is just being affectionate. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more when you are sat down, it tends to sit with you and if it tries to get you to do things such as to rub its belly when it does it.
It is anxious
The reason why it does it might be that something is causing it to feel anxious and rubbing its body against you causes it to feel safer. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more in situations where it might feel anxious such as when there are noises outside, another person or animal being around or when you are about to leave home.
It makes it 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 reason why your dog rubs itself against you could be that it makes it feel safer.
It wants something from you
The reason why it does it might be that it is hoping to get something from you or that it is waiting to get something from you. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more at around the same time that you would normally give it things such as a walk or exercise.
Many people jump to the conclusion that their dogs do it because they are trying to be dominant. However, the alpha/beta dynamic has been disproven in studies showing that wolves take turns in taking the lead.
With that being said, it could be doing it due to bullying behavior which would be more likely if your dog shows signs of aggression when doing it and if it tries to get you to move. In this case, it would help to avoid giving it reasons to feel threatened and to get it to learn to behave the way you want it to with training programs such as NLIF (“Nothing in Life is Free) dog training.
It likes the way it feels
It could be the case that it does it because it likes the way it feels. This would be more likely if it also rubs against other objects and if it does not seem to behave in unusual ways when it does it.
To spread its scent
It might also be the case that it does it in order to spread its scent onto you so that other dogs don’t approach you. This would be more likely if it can get overly protective when you are around other dogs.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
What else happened when your dog first started rubbing its body on you
If your dog did not always rub its body on you, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it might be due to things such as learning that it gets rewards for doing it or something causing it to start feeling insecure.
The body language it shows
It would also help to consider the body language your dog shows when doing it. If it is relaxed, it would be more likely that it does it due to wanting belly rubs, because it likes the feeling or because it is being affectionate. Whereas, if it shows signs of anxiety, it would be more likely that something has been causing it to be anxious.
What is different when it tends to do it
It would also help to consider if there is anything different in the timing that your dog tends to do it, if there is, it could be the case that the timing has something to do with it.
If it does it more when you are about to leave home then it would make it more likely that it has some separation anxiety. Whereas, if it does it more when you haven’t given it much attention then it might be looking for attention.
What to do about your dog rubbing its body on you
If you want to get your dog to stop rubbing its body on you, below are a number of options that you have.
Reward it when it behaves the way you want
As mentioned above, it might be the case that it has learned that it gets rewards for rubbing itself against you. Instead of rewarding the behavior, it would help to ignore it when it does it, to reward it when it behaves the way you want it to and to redirect its focus when it seems likely to start doing it.
Limit reasons why it might be anxious
If it seems to be showing signs of anxiety when rubbing its body against you, it would help to reduce reasons why it might be anxious. Ways to do so could include doing things such as letting it pee, eat and get exercise before leaving it.
Train it to stop
Another option would be to train your dog not to rub its body against by teaching 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:
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 it from you. Ways to give it attention would include training it, playing with it and giving it exercise.