Why Does My Dog Rub His face On Me featured image

Why does my dog rub his face on me? Is something bothering him, or does he just want some head rubs?

Although most dogs often show this behavior, it can nevertheless leave us fur parents wondering why.

But did you know that dog nuzzling behavior is yet another canine mode of communication?

Yup, Fido is trying to tell you something, so pay attention to when they're doing it.

And we say this because there are both good and bad reasons; there isn't just one.

What message is Fido trying to convey by nuzzling you, then? 

In this article, you will learn the reasons why dogs rub their faces on you and how you can handle it.

So, without further ado, let’s cut to the chase!

Here's a quick navigation:

Why Does My Dog Rub His Face On Me: 9 Surprising Reasons 

Understanding why Fido suddenly rubs his face against you depends on the circumstances.

We listed below the common reasons that may account for Fido’s rubbing habit.

1. Your dog is itchy

If your dog has an itchy spot they can't reach, they may nuzzle up against you and use you as a scratching post.

Have you recently observed your woofer scratching himself? 

If Fido doesn't have year-round flea protection from parasite prevention treatment, fleas may be the reason for their itch.

That's not the case, though. I use products and give my dog meds to avoid fleas and ticks.

Then, it can simply be an insect bite or sting.

If it’s summertime and your woofer’s scratching and biting is concentrated on one specific area of his body, he might’ve been bitten or stung.

Check the area where he is scratching, and if you locate any insects, try to remove them. 

Talk with your vet about other treatments, such as antihistamines.

The following other causes of your dog's scratching include:

SUGGESTED READ: Itchy Dogs in Summer: What It Is and How To Treat It

2. Your dog is cleaning

Did your dog rub his face against you after eating?

They did it, after all, to clean themselves! 

Dogs often use you as a personal towel to keep themselves clean because it's natural for them to do so.

You might also notice that they would start licking their paws. 

Nope, they aren't looking for more crumbs between their paws because they aren't full yet.

It turns out that Fido grooms himself by licking and rubbing.

The easiest way to determine is to notice when they are doing it.

Fun fact: When a dog licks, nibbles, or grooms themselves, endorphins are released in the brain, reducing stress, pain, and anxiety.

Why does my dog push his head into me

3. Your dog likes the feeling

Your dog will express his thanks to you in various ways if you treat him well, and rubbing is only one of them.

In fact, many fur parents enjoy this behavior as it allows them to bond with their woofers.

I'm one of them, and when my dog cuddles up to me and rubs his face against me, it makes me incredibly happy!

He seems to like it very much, and it feels comforting as well, knowing that my dog loves me.

Animal Wellness Magazine even says:

Dogs don’t just tolerate human touch – most thrive on it. In fact, the way we touch our dogs profoundly impacts the way they view and interact with the world.

Since the beginning of time and for thousands of years, dogs have been our closest companions.

Insofar as the human hands don't abuse the privilege by being cruel or neglectful, they have evolved not just to accept but need and enjoy human contact.

So the next time Fido rubs his face on you, enjoy the moment!

4. Your dog wants something

The problem is that our animal buddies cannot speak to us and express their needs or wants.

However, they have a variety of ways to convey their wants through body language.

Dogs frequently rub up against their owners as a means of communicating what they want.

They might be letting you know that they need to eat.

They might also want to play with you and go for a walk.

Woofers can also talk to us with their eyes to tell us they want attention.

If you get them both, you must be a good listener and trust your instincts. 

Maybe you forgot to refill their water bowl or didn't keep to the regular schedule for their playing.

Don't forget to give them food and take a walk.

Make sure to touch and belly rub them if you haven't been paying attention to them because you've been busy.

You may solidify your relationship and forge a lifelong friendship with Fido by paying attention to his needs.

5. Your dog is showing affection

You’re not probably going to nuzzle your face against someone when you don’t adore them, right?

Well, neither will your four-legged companion.

If your dog rubs his face against you when you're seated on the floor or couch, it signifies they like your company, and it's their way of saying, “I love you.”

They feel safe, secure, and comfortable being near you. 

They might even lean their entire weight against you at times to suggest that they want to cuddle.

When this occurs, spend some time with your good boy to let him know you love him too!

Fun fact: When you cuddle with your dog, it boosts the release of oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone,” in both of your brains.

6. Your dog is showing dominance

Dogs will occasionally use their nose to show another dog that they are submissive.

The same behavior, though, can also signal dominance.

If it's your dog, you can tell as a fur parent if they play the submissive or dominating position.

The same holds true for this behavior toward humans.

There is a difference between rubbing their face on you and firmly nudging their nose.

If Fido starts nudging you instead of just marking you or displaying affection, it's possible that he's trying to assert his control over you.

Obviously, no fur parent wants this behavior.

If you notice dominating behavior, it’s likely paired with other unwanted behaviors like barking, growling, and snapping.

When this conduct goes uncontrolled, it often continues and gets worse.

In this situation, we advise hiring a qualified expert to handle your dog.

They have the expertise to evaluate Fido's behavior.

They can also help identify the root causes of dominance and create an appropriate training plan.

RELATED: Best Training For An Aggressive Dog: 8 Tips

7. Your dog has separation anxiety

Your dog's separation anxiety may also be another reason why he rubs his face against you.

It’s his way of saying, “I want to be near you, and I don’t like you going anywhere.”

This is where he dislikes being left alone, and the thought of it makes your furry friend anxious.

VCA Animal Hospitals says:

Most dogs with separation anxiety try to remain close to their owners, follow them from room to room, and rarely spend time outdoors alone. They often begin to display anxiety as soon as the owners prepare to leave.

You should also watch out for any destructive behavior when left alone. 

These behaviors include pacing, destructive chewing, and urinating or defecating indoors.

When clinginess develops into separation anxiety, it becomes an issue.

It can be helpful to provide puzzle toys or other activities to keep your dog busy while you're away.

RELEVANT READ: 10 Ways to Treat Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Youd dog can sense sadness

8. Your dog can sense your sadness

Did you know that our dogs have a remarkable talent for knowing exactly how we’re feeling?

According to studies, our canine companions can detect human emotions.

Yes, they can empathize and can sense your pain.

You display a different facial expression when you're sad or unwell than you would normally.

This change in looks and your different behavior leads Fido to assume that you’re hurt.

They might give you a nuzzle or rest their head on your lap to show comfort.

I have so many moments like this that when I'm having a rough day, my dog will paw me and rub his face on me.

They have the unique ability to recognize when you need comfort.

A man's best buddy, they truly are.

9. Your dog is placing his scent on you

Dogs have scent glands in the skin around their cheekbones and on top of their heads, which you might not be aware of.

This means that when Fido rubs his face against you, he may be trying to claim ownership.

Other dogs are warned to avoid the area when they exhibit this type of territorial marking.

In a sense, he is claiming you as his own and protecting you against danger.

What To Do When Your Dog Keeps Rubbing His Face On You

What To Do When Your Dog Keeps Rubbing His Face On You

What should I do when my dog keeps rubbing his face on me? 

Contact the vet immediately if Fido is scratching because of an infection or external parasites.

If your dog friend doesn't appear hurt or uncomfortable, and it seems like a “normal” rub, you can try the following:

Ignore it

Sometimes we have so much to do that we can only work effectively if no one or nothing disturbs us.

Don’t get me wrong!

I'm only stating the fact that I sometimes find myself giving my furry child more time than I intended while working.

They’re so irresistible!

When he seems like he will start rubbing his face on you, you might want to try diverting his attention to other things.

You can provide him with chew toys or put on TV or videos for him.

SUGGESTED READ: Top 10 Best Dog Chew Toys for Dogs

Train him not to

Another option would be to exercise and train your dog to avoid rubbing his face against you.

In this way, you should be able to lessen how much he feels the need to get from you.

Give Fido attention

Spend your free time playing with your dog and giving him belly rubs. 

Isn’t it cute when they rub their face against you to get your attention?

You should cherish such moments like this because, again, they won’t be around forever.

Each second counts, so make the most out of it when you’re not busy.

Why Does My Dog Rub His Face On Me: FAQs

Why does my dog push his head into me?

Your dog pushes his head into you as a sign of affection and trust. They're letting you know that they're comfortable and feel safe around you.

Additionally, our dogs have a unique ability to perceive our emotions. 

Therefore, their actions might also be an attempt to cheer you up when you're feeling down.

Are dogs happy when they rub their face?

Yes, dogs rub their face on you because it feels good. 

You know this is the case when they have wide smiles and a generally joyful demeanor when they’re doing it to you.

Why does my dog nuzzle his head on me?

Your dog may nuzzle as a way of expressing how he is feeling, what he wants, or what he needs.

He may also be trying to mark you. When dogs wish to leave their fragrance on something, the scent glands on their faces come in handy.

Why does my dog push his body against me?

It’s their way of seeking comfort and reassurance from you.

They may feel safe and secure because of how cozy it is to be near you and of how warm you are.

Why Does My Dog Rub His face On Me

Why Does My Dog Rub His Face On Me: Before You Go….

Your dog rubbing his face on you is a common sign of affection and love.

It is a sign that your relationship is close and that they feel safe and secure with you.

Although it's the least likely of the reasons we mentioned, some dogs may abruptly rub their heads against you if they're feeling poorly.

If he has an itch from a skin condition or rash, your woofer may rub against you to relieve the discomfort.

If you find your dog exhibiting any troubling symptoms, contact the vet immediately.


How Aubrey describes love is a wet nose and a happy tail. She now has over a year of experience writing about canines with a particular emphasis on health and behavior. She enjoys sharing dog tips, fun facts, and pet med topics, among other things. Her passion for both writing and dogs inspired her to share her knowledge and experience with other dog parents so they could provide the greatest care for their pets. She also stands against alpha, leader, and dominance theories. She believes there’s no need to do extra things like eating prior to your dogs.