If your Labrador has been rubbing its head on you a lot this post will show you why and what you can do about it.
So, why does my Labrador rub its head on me? Possible reasons 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.
Your Labrador might rub its head on you for a number of different reasons and it could be due to a combination of them. However, there are a number of things you can consider when figuring out the main reason.
Why your Labrador rubs its head on you
Below are some common reasons why Labradors rub their heads on their owner’s and what would make them more likely to be the reason why yours does it.
One possible cause is that it has 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 Labrador does it more when you are about to leave home and if it gets anxious when you are leaving.
In this case, it would help to try to train it to learn 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 Labrador 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 Labrador 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 Labrador
- Repeat the above, each time staying outside for slightly longer
It would also help to let it pee, give it exercise and feed it before leaving so that it does not have to wait too long.
It wants attention
A likely cause is that it is trying to get extra attention. This would be more likely to be the reason if it does it more when you have not given it much attention and if you tend to give it extra attention when it does it.
If you don’t want your Labrador to be doing it then it would help to avoid rewarding it with attention when it does it by recognizing when it is about to do it and redirecting its focus or getting it off you and waiting for it to calm down.
Dogs evolved as pack animals so they will naturally feel safer when they are around other dogs in the pack or people. The cause of your Labrador rubbing its head 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.
Things to consider
Below are some things you can consider about your Labrador rubbing its head on you.
When it first started rubbing its head on you
If your Labrador did not always rub its head on you, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started 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 it does it
It would also help to consider when it does it and what is different about the times that it tends to do it at.
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.
How to get your Labrador to stop rubbing its head on you
Below are some options you have when getting your Labrador to stop rubbing its head on you.
Since it might be doing it in order to get attention, it would help to avoid rewarding it with attention when it does it.
Instead, you could try to redirect its focus onto something else when it seems likely to start rubbing its head 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 head on you doesn’t get attention.
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 Labrador not to rub its head 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:
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