Does this sound familiar? You’re relaxing on your couch and all of a sudden, Fido comes by and presses his head on your face and shoulders. Well, a dog communicates in many different ways, and pressing his head on you is one of the ways. What he is trying to communicate varies from dog to dog as they each have their own unique personalities. So, why do dogs press their head on you?
When a dog pushes his head on you, it is a gesture of affection, letting you know he loves and trusts you. He may try to seek attention from you if he feels bored. Other times, it could be him marking you with his scent to let others know you are his human.
Depending on the situation, there are still other purposes for this behavior. Below are 9 common reasons.
Why Do Dogs Press Their Head On You?
Different dogs greet differently. A dog may do a hip nudge, in other words, showing his bum to his owner as a form of greeting. Another may just simply lick. When your dog presses his head on you, it could very well be his way of greeting you. Your canine companion is stopping by to say, “Hello Hooman!” or “I miss ya! Glad your home!”.
08. Marking You
A dog’s face contains scent glands, and when he presses his adorable face on you, it leaves behind his scent, which means he’s probably marking his territory. Your pooch is effectively telling other dogs that you’re his human. Although this marking behavior does mean he loves you, it can also be a sign of asserting dominance, which is another reason listed below. Though it may not seem like a big deal, if your pooch is in fact trying to be the alpha, he may develop territorial and aggressive behaviors in the long run if not corrected. So it should not be encouraged or reinforced.
07. Offering Support
On the other hand, dogs are capable of reading human emotions. If he senses you’re sad or depressed, he’ll nudge his head on you to offer support. It is his way of comforting you and telling you that he is there for you. Maybe, he did something he’s not supposed to and is trying to ask for forgiveness. Regardless, you should definitely take up his act of kindness as it will only solidify the strong bond the two of you already share.
06. In Need Of Something
Perhaps Fido needs you for something so he decides to press his head on you to alert you to his request. Maybe it’s time for a walk, time to potty, or to tell you that he’s hungry. It’s just one of his clever, yet charming ways to get you to fulfill his doggie desires.
05. Just An Itch
It could be as simple as having an itchy face. All he wants to do is to relieve that irritating itch he has on his face. Since you’re his special human, he’s either asking you to help him with the scratching or using you to soothe the itch.
04. Seeking attention
Pawing, jumping, licking, sitting, and pressing on you are all forms of attention-seeking strategies your furry friend uses to hopefully get you to interact with him. Dogs are highly social animals so naturally they need and want attention.
03. You are rewarding the behavior
You may not know, but you might actually be the one who is encouraging this behavior. If your pooch presses his head on you, do you ever stroke or give him a nice rub? Offer him treats? If so, your smart dog knows the reaction he’ll get out of the behavior and will continue to do so knowing all the attention he’ll get as a result.
02. Asserting Dominance And Testing His Limits
Your pooch may be testing out his limits to see how much he can get away with. If your pooch doesn’t stop when you say so or continues to jump on you, acting dominantly, there may be some behavioral issues. He’s basically telling you, “Hey hooman! I am boss!”. The best solution to this is to establish or re-establish dominance and make clear to your dog who is the boss the appropriate way. If not corrected, it could lead to further behavioral problems down the road.
However, if you have a submissive dog, it more likely pertains to other reasons listed. If you are unsure whether you have a dominant or submissive dog, here’s an awesome article to help you find out. Some dogs just have a lot of energy to spare so don’t get mixed up with them being dominant. Below is a helpful video on obedience training if you have ruled out other possible reasons as to why he presses his head on you.
Contrary to the above reason, the most likely and common motive behind this behavior is affection. Simply put, your precious pup is just trying to show how much he appreciates you and loves you. Perhaps, he is just giving you the doggie version of a hug. This loving gesture sure does act as a reminder of the strong bond the two of you share! Make sure to love him back and let the profound bond last forever!
Should You Allow This Behavior?
When a dog is head-pressing on you, it generally causes no concern if you have ruled out the dominance behavior. As mentioned earlier, it is best to train your dog to respect and obey you if you suspect he has dominance issues. Head pressing on you is one of the many ways your dog communicates, but don’t get it confused when a dog is pressing his head against a wall, furniture, or other objects. This known behavior, called ‘head pressing’ can be an indication of neurological diseases. Again, this is different from when he does it to you as opposed to on the wall. When in doubt, check with your veterinarian.
Another helpful tip is when your dog is up close, pressing his head against yours, try to avoid direct eye contact. Eye contact in the canine world is a sign of establishing or challenging dominance which can make him feel uneasy. Although some dogs absolutely love eye contact with their humans because it releases love hormones such as Oxytocin, always be cautious. Once you know your pooch and yourself feel comfortable, then go ahead.
Whether you like the behavior or not, one thing is for certain, your precious pooch loves you! If you find it bothersome, you can always train using positive reinforcements to curb the behavior. If you are absolutely fine with getting a furry head pressed on you, show him some love back. He would most certainly appreciate your head rubs!