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Do you ever wonder why your dog likes to bury his head in you? They don’t just lay on you; they bury themselves into your leg, armpits, etc.
It can be a little strange and confusing, especially if your dog does it often.
There can be many reasons a dog might do this, and it’s important to understand what might be causing this behavior in case it’s a sign of something bad.
So, why do dogs bury their head in people?
The most common reasons a dog will bury their head in you is to express their love or because they are anxious about something. By Burying their head into you, they are keeping themselves feeling safe and secure. This is especially common in puppies still getting used to their environment.
In this blog post, we will cover the 11 reasons why a dog might bury their head in you when burying their head is a bad thing, how to stop this behavior, and other frequently asked questions about it.
Let’s dive in.
Table of Contents
11 Reasons Why Dogs Bury Their Head in You + Tips To Help
There are a few reasons a dog may bury their head in a person. To determine exactly why your dog is burying their head in you, we have explained the reasons for this behavior in detail.
#1 Anxiety Or Stress
One common reason a dog will bury their head in you is anxiety or stress. For example, when a dog feels anxious, they may try to bury their head to find comfort.
This behavior is often seen in dogs who are afraid of loud noises or have some form of separation anxiety. This could also be due to anxiety or stress from unfamiliar places. However, It could also be from a big change to their environment.
For example, adding a new member to your family could put stress on your dog, and they may start trying to bury their head in you for comfort.
If your dog is burying their head in you and you think it may be due to anxiety or stress, you can do a few things to help them feel more comfortable.
You can start by trying to create a calm environment for your dog. This means avoiding anything that may trigger their anxiety, such as loud noises or big changes. If your dog has separation anxiety, you can try leaving them with a piece of your clothing that smells like you to help them feel more comfortable.
There are also many products on the market that can help reduce stress and anxiety in dogs, such as pheromone collars, special toys, or calming supplements.
Suppose you think your dog’s anxiety or stress is severe. In that case, it’s always best to consult a veterinarian or animal behaviorist to get professional help.
#2 Attention Seeking
Whenever writing posts about why dogs do what they do, attention seeking usually comes up.
Dogs will do several things to get their owners’ attention. This is most commonly found in overly clingy dogs or dogs that might be neglected in certain aspects of their life.
Dogs are social creatures and crave attention from their owners. So if you notice that your dog only buries his head when you’re around, it could signify that he wants more of your time and affection.
If you think your dog is burying his head in you for attention, the best thing you can do is to give them more attention.
This doesn’t mean you should constantly be petting or giving them treats. Instead, spend quality time with them doing things they enjoy, such as going on walks, playing fetch, or tug-of-war.
#3 Showing Submission
Dogs also bury their head as a way to show submission. This is especially common in dogs lower in the pack hierarchy (often called “betas”). By burying their head, they’re showing respect and likely think of you as the alpha dog.
In fact, if you study wolf packs, you’ll see that the lower-ranking wolves will often put their heads down, roll over on their backs, lick their face, and bury their head down in the alpha’s body. These are all signs of submission and respect to their leader.
This behavior may also be seen in dogs who are nervous or afraid of someone. For example, if your dog is burying their head around strangers, they might feel scared, which puts them in a submissive state.
If you think your dog is burying their head in you as a sign of submission, there’s not much you can do to change this behavior.
This is how your dog views the relationship and is not necessarily bad. However, if your dog does this out of fear of strangers, you can try to socialize them more so they’re not as afraid. This can help build their confidence.
#4 Avoiding Conflict
Suppose you have more than one dog in your household. In that case, this behavior may also signify that your dog is feeling threatened by the other dog and trying to avoid conflict.
This is especially common if you have two dogs of the same gender, as they may be competing for your attention or trying to assert dominance over the other dog. This is usually only a problem when dogs are around the same age and size.
In this case, it’s important to watch both dogs closely and look for other signs of aggression. Then, you can work toward creating an equal and fair environment for both dogs so that one doesn’t feel threatened by the other. This may include feedings them in separate areas, giving each dog their space, or providing more toys and attention.
If the situation does escalate, it’s important to seek professional help from a certified animal behaviorist or trainer. They will be able to help you assess the situation and give you guidance on how to best handle it.
#5 Health Related
There are also many health-related reasons why a dog might bury his head. For example, if a dog has an ear infection, he may try to relieve the pain by burying his head in something soft.
Dogs with allergies may also scratch or rub their face frequently, which can lead to burying their heads to soothe the itchiness.
It’s pretty noticeable when the health issues are causing irritation to their head or face. They will constantly be scratching it, trying to bite at it, or pawing at their head.
In addition, other more subtle health concerns could be the root cause, such as dental pain, eye irritation, or even headaches. Another health condition I will mention is female dogs in heat. Dogs in heat tend to be clingy and needy. So if your female dog suddenly wants to bury their head in you more than usual, it could be because she’s in heat.
If you think your dog is burying his head due to a health issue, the first step is to take them to the vet for a check-up. From there, the vet can determine if there is an underlying health condition and provide treatment accordingly.
#6 Enjoyment & Natural Instinct
Some dogs simply enjoy the feeling of burying their head in something soft and comforting. This is often seen in dogs who also love to burrow under blankets, pillows, and other things.
In addition, certain breeds were bred to dig and burrow (such as terriers), so burying into you could be part of their natural instinct. They simply do it because it feels right, and they enjoy it.
There’s not much you need to do in this case, as your dog is simply behaving naturally.
You can also try training your dog to fetch or retrieve objects, so they have something to do with their energy. This can help tire them out and may make them less likely to want to bury their head as often.
#7 Expressing Affection
Dogs are very affectionate creatures and love to show their owners how much they care. One way they do this is by burying their head in you.
This is typical in dogs who are close to their owner and see them as a source of comfort. It’s also prevalent in pups still adjusting to their new family.
If your dog is burying his head in you to express affection, it’s a good sign that he feels comfortable and safe with you. However, suppose your dog constantly demands attention and buries his head in you whenever you sit down. In that case, it might signify they are suffering from separation anxiety.
In the case of separation anxiety, it’s important to seek professional help from a certified animal behaviorist or trainer. They will be able to help you assess the situation and give you guidance on how to best handle it.
If your dog is simply expressing affection, there’s no need to worry. You can continue to show them love and attention, but try to do so in a way that doesn’t reinforce the behavior. For example, don’t give them a reward (belly rub, butt scratch, etc.) every time they bury their head in you.
Instead, only give them attention when they’re not demanding it. This will help teach them that they don’t always need to be touching you to get your attention.
#8 Warmth & Comfort
Your dog may also bury their head in you as a way to feel warm, safe, and secure. Sort of like their very own doggy den built with your body.
Dogs with shorter coats are often burying their heads into people. Due to their short coat, they tend to get colder and seek the warmth of their owner’s body to help regulate their temperature.
If your dog is always cold and buries their head in you for warmth, it might be a sign that they need a sweater or coat to help keep them warm.
However, if it’s not due to warmth, it could also be for the feeling of security and safety. Dogs are pack animals, so being close to their pack (aka you) provides them with a sense of comfort.
You can do a few things to help your dog feel more comfortable and warm.
First, ensure they have a cozy bed to sleep in away from drafts. You can also consider getting them a dog blanket or coat to wear when it’s cold outside.
Another thing you can do is provide them with a safe place to retreat to when they’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious. This could be a crate, bed, or even just a spot on the couch. Having a designated safe space will make your dog feel more secure and less likely to want to bury their head in you all the time.
#9 It Was Accidentally Trained
When dogs are puppies, they quickly figure out how to get their way. So your dog may have learned that when they bury their head in you, they get something they want.
This could be in the form of a belly rub, food, playtime, or simply your attention. Anytime you reward your dog for a behavior, it builds up a habit through positive association.
They know that a positive outcome is likely to occur anytime they perform said behavior. Simply put, they know burying their head into you means belly rubs, butt scratches, and attention from you.
If your dog has learned that burying their head in you gets them what they want, the best thing to do is to break the habit.
The first step is to know when you are rewarding the behavior. Once you’re aware, make a conscious effort to not give your dog attention whenever they bury their head in you. This includes not talking to them, making eye contact, or even acknowledging their presence.
You want to clarify that this behavior is no longer being rewarded. Only give them that attention when they are not burying their head into you.
#10 Marking You
Dog use their scent to communicate with other animals. So when they bury their head in you, they are essentially rubbing their scent all over you to claim you as their own.
This is especially true if your dog likes to do this after you get home from being out and about. Dogs use their scent to communicate with you and your family.
So by burying their head, they might be spreading their scent to communicate with other dogs, animals, or you.
When it comes to marking, this is a dog’s natural instinct, and there’s not much you can do to stop it. It would be like trying to make a dog start peeing all at once in one spot during a walk… Good luck.
#11 To Stop You From Leaving
Lastly, your dog might be burying their head into you in order to keep you in place!
Your dog may be trying to stop you from leaving! For example, if a dog knows you’re about to leave the house or have to go to work, they may try to stop you by burying into your body.
This is their way of trying to keep you around and not leave them alone.
If your dog is burying their head in you to stop you from leaving, you can do a few things to help this.
First, try to give them plenty of exercise before you have to leave. A tired dog is a calm dog, and they’ll be less likely to get worked up when you’re getting ready to go out.
Another thing you can do is create a positive association with your leaving. This means giving your dog a treat or toy right before you leave so they associate you leaving with something positive. Over time, this will help them feel more comfortable when you have to go out, and they won’t feel the need to bury their head in you anymore.
Should You Allow Your Dog to Bury Their Head into You?
Now that we’ve gone over some reasons why your dog might be burying their head in you, you might wonder if you should let it continue.
The answer is: it depends. If your dog is doing it for the right reasons and it’s not causing any problems, then there’s no harm in letting them do it.
However, suppose your dog is doing it for the wrong reasons (like anxiety), or it’s causing other problems. In that case, you’ll need to take some steps to stop the behavior. In addition, if they are doing it because they are anxious or have a health condition, this would be another reason to get help from a professional.
If you’re unsure why your dog is burying their head, the best thing to do is consult a professional trainer or behaviorist. They can help you figure out the root of the problem and devise a plan to stop it.
So whether you should let your dog bury their head into you or not is entirely dependent on their reason for doing it.
Dog Burying Their Head Vs. Head “Pressing”
There is a distinct difference between dogs burying their head and pressing their head onto things.
Dog head “pressing” is considered a compulsive act and is often seen in dogs with neurological issues. Although most people confuse head pressing with a dog laying their head down on things, this is not the same.
Head pressing is when a dog presses the forefront of their head up against an object. They are tilting their head vertically down and pressing them against things.
This can be a wall, the ground, your leg, or anything else.
This is different from a dog burying their head because when dogs bury their head, they are not tilting their head down and pressing it up against things. Instead, they nuzzle their head into things as if trying to hide.
If you think your dog might be head pressing, it’s important to take them to the vet immediately as this can signify a serious health condition.
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