If your dog has been rubbing its face 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 face on me? Possible reasons why your dog rubs its face on you are that it is trying to get attention from you, it makes your dog feel safer, it’s spreading its scent onto you or that it has a rash on its face.
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 figure out what you should do about it.
Why your dog rubs its face on you
Below are a number of possible causes and what would make each of them more likely to be the main cause.
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. 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.
The reason why your dog rubs its face on you might be that it has some separation anxiety. This is where it does not like being left alone and the prospect of being left alone causes it to become anxious. This would be more likely to be the reason if your dog does it more when you are about to leave home and if it gets anxious when you are leaving.
It wants attention
The cause could also be that it is trying to get extra attention out of you. This would be more likely if your dog tends to do it more when you have not been giving it much attention and if you tend to give it extra attention when it rubs its face on you.
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 its face on you could be that it makes it feel safer.
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.
The cause could also be that it has a rash on its face and rubbing its face on you causes its rash to feel better. This would be more likely if it has also been rubbing its face on other things a lot as well and if it has started doing it suddenly. In this case, the safest option would be to get a vet to take a look at it.
Things to consider
Below are a number of things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
When your dog first started rubbing its face on you
If your dog did not always rub its face on you, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it since it might be the case that there was an event that caused your dog to start doing it.
If it started doing it suddenly, it would be more likely to be due to things such as a rash or learning that it gets rewards for doing it.
When it does it
It would also help to consider the timing of when your dog rubs its face on you since 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 face on you
Below are some options you have when getting your dog to stop rubbing its face on you.
As mentioned above, it could be the case that your dog has been doing it in order to get extra attention from you. Instead, it would help to reward your dog when it behaves the way you want it to and to try to ignore it when it does not. Doing this should teach it that behaving the way you want it to will result in it getting rewards but misbehaving will not.
To do this you could try to redirect its focus onto something else when it seems likely to start rubbing its face on you. You could also get it off you when it starts doing it and wait for it to calm down before giving it attention so that it learns that rubbing its face on you doesn’t get attention.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
If you tend to give your dog things such as toys, treats or extra attention when it does it then you might have inadvertently trained it to rub its face on you.
Instead, it would help to reward it when it is behaving the way you want it to and to try to redirect its focus when it seems likely to rub its face on you.
Give it attention
It would also help to give it attention throughout the day in the form of exercise, training and by playing with it. By doing so you should help to reduce the amount of attention it feels the need to get from you.
Train it not to
Another option would be to train your dog not to rub its face on you 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: