Have you ever wondered, “Why does my dog bury his head into me?” It’s quite a common behavior, but is it just a sign of love, or does it mean your dog is worried or afraid?
One behavior that some dogs exhibit is burying their head into their owner’s lap or chest. This behavior may seem cute and endearing but sometimes can indicate underlying issues. If you love these kinds of cuddles with your dog, remember to invest in a good canine cologne to keep yourself and them smelling fresh.
Whenever we deal with canine behavior, we make sure to consult the dog behavior Bible, Canine Behavior Insights as well as all the latest expert sources. So, read along to find out why your dog likes to push their face against you.
So, Why Does My Dog Bury His Face Into Me?
One of the most common reasons for dogs burying their head is to seek comfort and security. Dogs are social creatures and crave attention and affection from their owners. By burying their head into their owner’s lap or chest, they are seeking comfort and security from you, or it’s a way that dogs comfort you.
This behavior is especially common in dogs with anxiety or fear-related issues. However, you also see it in dogs who miss you after you have been gone for awhile.
Why Do Dogs Nuzzle Their Head In You? 7 Common Reasons
Nuzzling their head into you is another common behavior that dogs show affection. Dogs may nuzzle you to comfort you when you are upset, to get a laugh from you (they love positive reactions), or even to check if you are okay. When dogs nuzzle you, it’s a lot like how someone may tickle you to make you laugh or give you a little hug when you are upset. It’s also typically a bonding moment between people and their dogs.
Dogs have a unique way of expressing their emotions. One of the ways they do this is by burying their head into their owner and even sitting on them. These behaviors can be observed in dogs of all ages and breeds.
Dogs burying their heads in us can be cute and endearing, but it can also be a sign of anxiety, fear, or distress. In this section, we will explore the different reasons why dogs bury their heads.
1. Expressing Love and Emotions
Usually, when dogs bury their heads in their owner, it’s a tender moment between the two which displays deep love and trust. Most love to cuddle and crave physical contact, particularly from their favorite people.
Burying their head into their owner’s lap or arm can be a way of expressing their love and emotions. This behavior can be observed when the dog is happy, content, or seeking attention from their owner.
2. They Want Reassurance Due to Anxiety and Fear
Dogs suffering from separation anxiety or fearfulness may bury their head into their owner’s lap or arm to seek comfort and security.
This behavior can be observed when the dog is exposed to new and unfamiliar surroundings or is separated from their owner. Dogs that suffer from anxiety or fear may also exhibit other behaviors, such as trembling, whining, and pacing.
Situations that may trigger anxiety in dogs include:
- Other loud noises
- Unusual people or animals in unsocialized dogs
Just like dogs comfort their owners when they’re sad, they also need comfort and reassurance from their hoomans when unsure.
3. Claiming Space
Occasionally dogs will put their heads on top of you as a way of physically claiming the space around you. This is a common sign of resource guarding and not affection. When dogs do this, their body will typically be tense and stiff. The signal they are giving is “this is my human, don’t come near.”
Resource guarding is not affection and it can lead to fights or even biting people who come too close, so it’s an important behavioral issue that one needs to address. Putting their head over something to claim it also happens with other resources, like their food.
When a dog puts their head over another dog, it’s a sign of dominance and often happens right before a fight. When dogs challenge one another, they often “seek height” over each other, putting their head over the other, standing over the other or even putting their paw over the other dog.
This is an aggressive posture and often results in a dog fight.
4. They Can’t Get Enough of Your Good Smell
To say that dogs have an impressive sense of smell is an understatement. Your dog catches all your unique smells and pheromones when they push their face against yours. This gets them hooked on the act and will bury their face into you even more.
Dogs do this because, on top of their incredible smell, they also have a vomeronasal organ for chemical detection. This organ, also called the Jacobson’s organ, gets their smell so precise that they can sometimes taste what they’re smelling.
5. Play and a Strategy to Get Your Attention
Dogs may also bury their heads during play or cuddling. This behavior is a sign of affection and trust. It is also a way for dogs to show they are relaxed and comfortable around their owners.
Your dog can also push their face against you to catch your attention if you’ve not been focusing on them. This is particularly true if the attempt at attention-seeking by burying their head has been successful in the past.
6. Burying as a Sign of Medical Issues
While most cases of dogs burying their heads into their owners are signs of affection, anxiety, or a simple request for attention, there could be times when this behavior signals an underlying health issue.
Dogs may bury their heads when they are not feeling well or are in pain. Body aches and other types of discomfort can cause a dog to seek comfort by burying their head in their owner’s lap or under a blanket.
For example, a dog with ear infections or head discomfort may bury its head in an attempt to relieve pain. Similarly, certain neurological conditions might also cause dogs to exhibit unusual behaviors, including pressing their head against something.
It’s crucial to consult a veterinarian to rule out any medical issues if you observe any other unusual symptoms. These include loss of appetite, changes in behavior, or physical discomfort,
7. Cold Weather And Preserving Body Heat
Dogs may sometimes bury their head in you when it’s cold because they instinctively recognize that it can help conserve body heat. Dogs have a higher body temperature than humans, and they lose heat through their exposed nasal passages. By burying their head into you, they seek warmth and insulation. Your body and clothing act as a barrier against the cold air, providing a source of heat for them. Additionally, the act of pressing their face against you may create a cozy and comforting environment that helps them feel secure and protected from the cold.
This behavior is reminiscent of how dogs would huddle together in packs to share body heat in the wild. By seeking warmth from you, your dog is exhibiting a natural instinct to regulate their body temperature and maintain comfort during colder conditions. It’s a way for them to benefit from the warmth your body offers, while also enjoying the emotional closeness and reassurance that being physically close to you provides.
How to React When Your Dog Buries Its Head Into You
When your dog buries its head into you, your reaction should be based on the cause of the behavior. If it’s out of affection, reciprocate with gentle petting or cuddling. If it’s due to anxiety or fear, try to provide your pet with a calming and reassuring presence, perhaps by speaking softly or providing their favorite toy. Try to direct the dog toward a positive and stress relieving activity.
Avoid any loud or sudden movements that might increase their anxiety. However, if the behavior becomes excessive or disruptive, you may need to consult a professional dog trainer to establish boundaries and manage the behavior.
Do Some Breeds Bury Their Head More Than Others?
Although head burying can be observed in dogs of all breeds, some breeds may be more prone to this behavior due to their genetics or temperament. For example, breeds historically used for burrowing or digging, such as Dachshunds or Terriers, may be more likely to exhibit head-burying behaviors.
Similarly, breeds known for their close bonds with humans, such as Labrador Retrievers or Border Collies, might also show this behavior as a sign of affection. Understanding your dog’s breed characteristics can help you better understand and respond to their behaviors.
Should I Be Worried About My Dog Burying His Head Into Me?
While head burying is typically a harmless and natural canine behavior, there might be instances when seeking professional help is necessary. For instance, if your dog’s head-burying behavior becomes excessive,
Additionally, it becomes concerning if it’s causing them distress. Also, it would be wise to consult with a professional if it is associated with other worrisome symptoms (like aggression, change in eating habits, or lethargy).
This could be a veterinary behaviorist or a professional dog trainer. They can provide valuable insights into managing your dog’s behavior and ensuring their well-being.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does my dog push her face into mine?
Your dog may push her face into yours as a way of seeking affection or trying to get your attention. Dogs maintain eye contact with humans as a way to promote a bond. They do not do this with other dogs, since eye contact between dogs can be seen as a challenge. However, beware of your dogs body language when they push their face into yours. Dogs with a “hard stare,” particularly where you can see wrinkle in their brow, pinned back ears, and a tense body, may be showing signs of aggression and looking to intimidate you.
Why do dogs like to bury their face?
Dogs may like to bury their faces as a way to feel secure and safe. It can also be a natural instinct to explore scents or seek comfort. When it’s cold, it’s also instinctive for dogs to cover their face to keep their nose warm, since their nose is one of the main ways they lose body heat.
Why does my dog lower his head to me?
When a dog lowers its head to you, it is often a submissive appeasement signal. It indicates respect, submission, or a desire to avoid conflict by showing deference to your authority. If you are angry and your dog is lowering their head (and probably averting their gaze), they are trying to persuade you to stop being angry, which is why we call it an appeasement signal.
Why does my dog bury his head under my arm?
Dogs may bury their head under their owner’s arms to seek comfort and security. This behavior is often seen in anxious or fearful dogs, and they may do this to feel protected. It can also be a way for dogs to bond with their owners and show affection.
Why does my dog bury his head when I pet him?
Dogs may bury their head when being petted as a sign of enjoyment and relaxation. This behavior can also be a way for dogs to show trust and submission to their owner. It may also be a way for dogs to communicate that they want more attention or affection.
Why does my dog bury his head in me when sleeping?
Dogs may bury their head under their owner when sleeping to feel safe and secure because they’re relaxed around them. This behavior is often seen in puppies who are still adjusting to their new environment and may feel vulnerable.
Why does my dog bury his head in blankets?
Dogs may bury their head in blankets to create a den-like environment that feels safe and secure. This behavior is often seen in scared dogs with the need to feel safer. It can also be a way for dogs to regulate their body temperature and stay warm, especially since dogs lose heat through their nose.
Why does my dog bury his head in the couch when sleeping?
Dogs may bury their head in the couch when sleeping to feel safe and protected. It can also be a way for dogs to regulate their body temperature and stay cool. Most dogs that do this feel relaxed in their current environment and places like under a couch or a bed can feel a lot like a natural den to a dog.
Why does my dog bury his head in my lap?
Dogs may bury their head into their owner’s lap to show love and affection and seek comfort and security. It can also be a way for dogs to bond with their owner and show affection. The behavior is often seen in canines with anxiety that need that extra comfort.
Dogs bury their heads for various reasons, including anxiety, fear, protection, alertness, and expressing love and emotions. It is important for dog owners to understand their dog’s behavior and body language to provide them with the necessary care and attention.
If a dog’s behavior is causing concern or distress, it is recommended to consult a veterinarian or a professional dog trainer.
Meet Your Experts
Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.