You might have understood and enjoyed every moment your dog paws on you. But when your dog puts his paw on your face, you may be left wondering what he is implying and trying to achieve.
So, why does my dog put his paw on my face? Common reasons include: boredom, attention, anxiety, he wants something, or you inadvertently rewarded the behavior.
While some may enjoy it, it may sometimes hurt when your dog lifts his paws and rubs your face with them.
Why does my dog put his paw on my face? (6 reasons)
There are plenty of ways your dog can show affection for you, and pawing at your face is one of them.
Dogs appreciate every kind of nice gesture shown to them by their owners (like providing food and treats, creating playtime, taking them with you on a walk, etc.), and that’s why they are affectionate towards you.
Since they can’t talk to us to express it, there are certain ways they use to show it, such as licking us, putting their faces on our laps, or putting their paws on us, including our faces.
It could also be that your dog wants your attention or wants something from you. If your dog wants to get your attention and really wants to get it asap, it will do so by making physical contact with you using his paws.
For example, if you are both sitting together and you are busy with something else, and he needs to eat or go potty, he will initiate contact with you to get your attention.
3. Boredom/Wants to play
We all know that dogs are energetic animals full of life and energy. They do not like it when it’s dull for a very long time.
When they find themselves in this situation, they find ways to get active and stimulate themselves like dragging his bed around, digging, and some other destructive behaviors.
He may also try to initiate play with you by pawing your face as it would with another dog to see if you’d be interested.
Anxiety, as you know, can spur several subconscious actions. It causes your dog to exhibit behaviors you do not usually find with them, like putting his paw on your face.
But you need to understand what gets your dog anxious to know if the reason for this behavior is anxiety.
Some examples you can look out for are when your dog wants to go potty, having a visitor or unfamiliar faces around, or when you’re about to leave your dog at home alone (separation anxiety).
5. You unknowingly rewarded the behavior
Dogs are great learners and pick up simple commands easily. If you know a little about dog training or have previously tried to train your dog, you probably might have heard of positive reinforcement.
It is a training method that involves rewarding a dog (with food, treats, and even playtime) when a command is carried out successfully.
But sometimes, our dogs receive treats from us (unknowingly) after they have tried a new behavior.
They see it as a reward to continue with such behavior. As a result, you may want to note when he puts his paw on your face and delay giving him treats after such action.
How do I stop my dog from pawing at my face?
While many owners may be contented and even love their dogs pawing at their faces, it’s also possible that several others are fed up with this behavior and are looking for the quickest ways to end it as they might have got hurt of have their faces scratched open.
While the following are some possible ways to stop the behavior, the ideal solution will depend on the reason for the behavior in the first place.
1. Engage your dog
As you already know, boredom and excess energy are the main causes of weird behaviors in dogs. As the owner, you should try to provide physical engagement and mental stimulation for your dog.
A way you could devise to counter this behavior is to walk him through tiring him out. When he expends and has way less energy, he’s less likely to come up with any strange behavior.
2. Redirect his focus
If the reason your dog paws at your face is for attention, then you should be able to predict that. A way you can stop it is to redirect his focus to something capable of catching his attention, like toys.
3. Watch when you give your dog a reward
As previously mentioned, it’s also possible you had inadvertently encouraged the behavior following series of rewards given when your dog pawed at your face. Your dog could have noted this pattern and sees it as a job well done.
Hence, you should take into mind when to give him treats and not shortly after pawing at your face.
4. Make him less anxious
Anxiety plays a major role in strange behaviors in dogs. It would help to find out the reasons for your dog getting anxious and find ways to reduce it, maybe by having physical contact with your dog and petting him or exercising your dog before you leave him.
5. Command your dog
You can command your dog to stop this behavior. And no, you won’t be hurting his feelings by doing so. Whenever he puts his paw on your face, command him and immediately end playtime. Use single command words like ‘Stop’ or ‘No,’ especially if your dog has not been trained.
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