Why Does My Dog Rub His Face On Me?

Why Does My Dog Rub His Face On Me?

Our pets are more like our family, right. Humans show their affection with hugs, cuddles, kisses, and nuzzles. The same goes for pets too. Dogs also show their love for their human friends with nuzzling. They usually cuddle your face or neck, press their forehead against your face or place their head on your shoulder. However, if your dog is rubbing its face on you, can you only relate it to the expression of love? And are all the reasons are those you can ignore and let your pup continue its behavior? To debunk all the myths and demystify your pup’s behavior, we decided to write this post.

Continue reading to learn a lot more about the dog’s behavior and what you can do about it.

There are many reasons why your dog is manifesting such behavior. It can be one reason or a combination of many. So, when you are questioning about why your pup rub their face against you, there can be following reasons

it has separation anxiety it feels safer it is looking for attention it does it to spread its scent

The behavior is also exhibited due to a group of reasons rather than one. However, whatever might be the reason, it always comes forward with a lot of clues. Below is the explanation of each of the possible cause leading to your dog snuggle its face on you

Meeting A Stranger

Interpreting a dog’s nuzzling is all situation-specific. For example, dogs usually tend to smell strangers. This is their way of familiarizing themselves with their scent. So, if your dog is sniffing a stranger and like the way they smell and respond to puppy’s such behavior, they are then going to snuggle as a token of love and friendship.

The case is particular for dealing with strangers and what you can infer with this behavior. You cannot relate it to cheating on you, right?

It Is Claiming Its Ownership!

You must have heard that dogs have special scent glands on their face. Whenever they rub their face with anything, they tend to spread the secretions on the object. Secretions usually have a specific smell. It is one of the dog’s things to mark the items there’s this way. It is also a signal to other dogs to stay a mile away from you. So, when you see your dog rubbing its face against yours, you may take it as a credit. It is a simple manifestation that your dog is claiming you.

It Is Protecting You

The behavior can also be manifested when your dog tries to tell other dogs to not harm you; otherwise, he will rip them into pieces. It is a kind of way your dog is protecting you from other dogs, which may cause any sort of harm. You can verify this cause when your dogs get overprotective whenever you pass other dogs on the way. You do not have to worry about this behavior. It’s customary in pups to protect their owner, whatever the breed might be.

Show Empathy

Another cause of your dog’s behavior is rubbing its face against you can manifest the dog’s empathy. Many dog trainers, psychologists, and vets support this one reason. It is observed that dogs can clearly differentiate between crying and humming sounds. Crying sounds develop a sense of empathy among them, and they tend to approach and touch the human when they are moaning. Interesting, right. They then tend to satisfy you and in any way help you get out of trouble, pain, or whatever might be the cause behind it.

However, to your surprise, this behavior is not only limited to their owners. Dogs have a submissive demeanor. They try to comfort anyone crying or in pain in front of them without any discrimination. You cannot relate this behavior to a way to get your attention. If you are getting a lot sad lately and are exhibiting negative emotions, your dog may try to approach you a lot. This empathetic behavior can naturally incline your neighbors if they are crying and get the attention of your pup.

For Comfort

Evolutionary biologists claim that some pets’ childhood behaviors are so vital for their survival that they do not go away when they are young. You can apply this case to puppies as well. Puppies trigger regurgitation by licking their mother’s face. This is how they get their day to day sustenance. Likewise, puppies also nuzzle with their mom, increasing the chance of their survival well being and implanting a sense of protection. This behavior comes forth in the evolutionary process. When you take ownership of your puppy, they tend to nuzzle you instead. This behavior will also continue as they tend to grow older.


I have read many articles and dogs expert saying that the behavior is more likely to show dominance. However, if we dig deeper, we will discover many studies claiming that it is entirely against pups’ aptitude. Wolves usually manifest the same behavior to display dominance, so they misunderstood and traced the same action to dogs.

However, if your dog shows aggression in its snuggling behavior, you may refer it to bullying behavior. The dog is actually protecting itself. You may dig into the causes of threatening it and learn why it is showing such action. You may also avail the services of professional dog trainers to help you resolve the issue.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety can not only develop in humans! It is also established in dos when they are left alone for too long or are not given due attention. If you are a too-busy person, it is always suggested to avoid having cuddle pups such as Maltipoos. It is because of the same behavior pups behave this way. Separation anxiety in its very initial stages is manifested by more snuggling and cuddle by your puppy when you are around. Your dog gets more anxious and draws towards you when you are about to leave the place.

Suppose you recognize that the cause of behavior is anxiety or something related to it. In that case, you need to give this matter due attention. Give your pup the care and attention it deserves. If you are more like an office person, you can train your puppy not to worry and be less anxious when you leave for work.

For adequate dog’s training, you can:

  1. Repeat your behavior and manifest it with some clue. For example, if you go by vehicle, you can show that you are about to leave by picking your keys.
  2. Introduce variety in your moves such as picking keys, changing shoes, holding the doorknob, so your pup sees you, etc.
  3. Reward your dog if it stays normal when you are out. Repeat this rewarding procedure as much as you can.
  4. Open the door, leave the place, return after a few moments, and reward your pup. You can also go to a nearby grocery store for groceries and again to buy a dog’s treat.
  5. Repeat the above a lot when you are going to stay out of the sight of your pup longer.

It Wants Attention

Another most probable reason that why your dog is showing such behavior is when it is looking for attention. It is both when you don’t give it the due attention it deserves or when you give it a lot of attention. Giving a lot of attention make your pup habitual of it. Most of the dog owners make a mistake in that. They reward their puppy with more attention and love when they do something good. However, in the long run, it can become difficult for both owner and dog. If you have developed such a habit in your pup, you can redirect its attention from the matter until it calms down.


Dogs have a habit of living in a pack and feel safer in it. So, dogs are more comfortable near other dogs of the same race or group of people. One of the reasons your dog is licking your face might be that he is feeling safe and comfortable in your company and liking the same.

How To Get Your Dog To Stop Rubbing Its Head On You?

If you have discovered why your dog is manifesting such behavior, you can work on following things to stop him from that.

Ignore it

If you think that your dog is doing all this to get your attention, you ignore the first thing you do. We know it will be hard for you, but only ignoring your pup’s behavior can help in this case. It teaches it that rubbing the face against your owner is not the only way to seek their attention. Or it is kind of more disrespectful when it does so.

Never reward it with attention when it does so if you want to stop it from excessive smudging. You can simply redirect its attention and let it calm down before you give it attention. You can also get it off whenever it does so and wait for it to behave normally, so it learns it.

Avoid Negative Reinforcement Training

If you are into a lot of negative reinforcement, you need to think that it’s you who developed such a habit in your pup. In negative reinforcement, the reward is linked to avoiding the stuff the owner wants to. If this reward is affection and attention along with treats and toys, it may transcribe in your dog’s mind how to gain the attention. You might have inadvertently trained your pup to rub its head against yours to get your attention.

Trying to redirect the focus when it is rubbing a lot is the best way to avoid this. Moreover, avoid giving extra attention when the dog is not doing the things you want. It would be a lot more helpful to reward it when it behaves according to you.

Give It Attention

The primary reason behind such behavior is seeking after attention and attention deprivation. It would be beneficial to give it attention all day long by training, exercise, and playing. This will deplete the surplus energy from your pup, and he will feel less need to gain your attention. Obviously, he is using all he has in the activity and is not getting bored in any way, so he will be tired enough to sleep early.

Train It Not To

You can train your pup to go somewhere else when it feels like rubbing its head against you. You can teach it to lay down or sit when it feels like doing so. You can then tell it to stay there for longer and longer. This training will also help it cope with separation anxiety as it is learning to live independently. So, it will find new activities for itself to keep it busy.


When your dog is loving you, it is one of the most beautiful feelings in the world. Neither your dog nor you think at that moment to follow the rules of interaction. This may be a bit rattling for you. You go with human interpretation to find a reason behind such a behavior. However, remember that there are multiple aspects to a dog’s behavior. When your dog is nudging you, it can merely be protecting you. He may also be wanting to calm you when you are sad or trying to own you. However, if you cannot solve the mystery, and the behavior is getting a lot excessive, you can consult your vet or certified animal trainer to help you.

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