If your dog rubs itself against you a lot, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you twelve common reasons why dogs do it and what you can do to get yours to stop.

So, why does my dog rub itself against me? Possible reasons why your dog rubs against you are wanting something from you, affection, separation anxiety, being protective, submissiveness, or having learned that the behavior gets rewarded.

It is actually possible that there is a combination of causes at play. However, there are some things you can consider when figuring out the main causes and there are many things you can do about them.

Why your dog rubs itself against you

Below are twelve common reasons why dogs do it and what would make them more likely to be the reason why your dog has been doing it.

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.

Encouraging the behavior

It could also be the case that it does it because you have encouraged the behavior. If you tend to give it rewards such as extra attention, toys or treats, when it rubs itself against you, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.

Instead, it would help to reward it when it behaves the way you want it to, to try to avoid rewarding it when it does not and to try to redirect its focus when it seems like it is about to rub itself against you.

Affection

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 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 is being protective

The reason why it does it might also be that it is being protective. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more when other people or animals are around and if it also tends to be overly protective when they are around.

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.

Submissiveness

The reason why it does it might be that it is actually being submissive. This would be more likely if it does it in a way such that it is actually hiding behind you when other dogs or people are around.

Separation anxiety

The reason why it does it 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.

Dominance

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 it 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.

To get attention

The reason why your dog does it might be that it is looking for 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 dog 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.

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.

A rash

It might be the case that it has been doing it due to having a rash on its skin. This would be more likely if it has started doing it suddenly, it has also been rubbing against other objects and if it has been rubbing the same part of its body when doing it. In this case, the best option would be to take it to a vet.

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 itself against you

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

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
  • If it started rubbing itself against other objects

What is different when it tends to do it

It would also help to consider the timing of when your dog rubs itself 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 itself against you

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

Avoid encouraging the behavior

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.

Reduce reasons why it might be anxious

If it seems to be doing it more when you are about to leave home, it would help to reduce reasons why it might be anxious by doing things such as letting it pee, eat and get exercise before leaving it.

Train it not to

Another option would be to train your dog not to rub itself 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 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.

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I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.