Sometimes our furry friends can be a little strange and do things that make us scratch our heads. It’s not uncommon for a dog you love to come up and bury his head in your arms, legs, crotch, or wherever else he can—but why?
Your dog is burying their head into you because they are searching for security and comfort. The bond you share with your dog makes you the focus of their affection and they will often search you out when they feel anxious or worried.
Just like humans, dogs can use a single behavior to indicate several emotions or feelings, often all at once. This can make it difficult to understand what they want, but we can help. We’ll go through what the behavior could mean, how to stop it (if you’d like to), and lots of other similar behaviors that might leave you a bit perplexed.
Why Does My Dog Bury His Head in Me
Feeling the warm furry head of a puppy wedge itself between your legs can be reassuring, but most people don’t understand why their dog is even doing it.
In the same way that a single expression on our face can mean several different things depending on the context, dogs also use similar behaviors in completely different ways.
As we go through four of the most common reasons your dog may be burying his head into you, remember that it may be a combination of several.
Your Dog Is Burying Their Head Into You for Affection
The first and most common reason you might find your pooch wedged into you is just that he’s feeling a lot of affection for you and somehow needed to show you. This is one of many signs in which your dog displays his love for you.
Dogs use their entire body to communicate, including leaning, pushing, wedging, and generally wanting to be as close to you as possible when they feel extra lovey.
Just give him some love back and send him on his way. If he keeps coming back to shove his head into you, then there may be something else going on.
Your Dog Is Burying Their Head Into You for Attention
If your dog is really persistent about shoving himself into you, you should next check and make sure he isn’t trying to get your attention for any specific reason.
He could be trying to show you anything, but a few common examples are:
- It’s dinnertime, and he’s feeling impatient
- A toy has gotten wedged under something where he can’t get it
- He’s vomited or regurgitated somewhere and came to get you
- One of the most common reasons is they need to go outside for the toilet
Dogs will often use nudging or shoving to get your attention when they are trying to show or tell you something specific. From personal experience, I have often found my dog comes up close to me and stares. As soon as I make a slight movement, they head for the door.
My suggestion would be to make any movement or stand up and see if he starts leading you anywhere so you can investigate. If it doesn’t appear that he was signaling something specific, then move on to the next reason.
You will understand your own dog better than anyone and because dogs make a variety of signals to communicate with their owners, you can easily disregard certain traits. For example, if you have a dog that barks a lot and is very vocal, you will know that when something is wrong they will more likely bark or make noise rather than nudge you. Small dogs can be particularly noisy and they will often make it known if something is wrong or if something has spooked them.
Your Dog Is Burying Their Head Into You Because They Feel Anxious
When they feel scared and anxious, dogs will commonly seek out their owners and try to get as close to them as possible, so they may be burying their heads in you to get away from whatever spooked them. It’s an understandable reaction and often won’t be anything more than a slight noise outside. Remember that dogs have excellent senses, including one of the best smell mechanisms of any animal on the planet. Therefore if something has spooked them it may not be obvious to you. Check out this article to learn more about your dog’s sense of smell – How long Can A Dog Follow A Scent
If he seems to have nervous energy, then it’s best to redirect that and distract him. You can do this by:
- Playing a game, like Fetch. If he is too anxious, he may not be feeling safe enough to play.
- Doing some training tasks. Training is a great way to distract him and get him to focus on something else entirely, reducing his anxiety substantially.
- Getting a treat that takes a while to eat. Just like playing fetch, he may not be feeling safe enough to eat. If he is, then give him a bully stick or other treat that will take him a while to get through.
The key to dealing with dog anxiety (and getting him to stop burying his head in you while you work!) is redirection and time. Focus his attention on something else and keep it there until his anxiety passes.
Your Dog Is Burying Their Head Into You Because It’s Comfortable
If your pup isn’t feeling anxious or trying to point something out, then he may just be doing it because it’s comfortable! It’s only natural for dogs (or other mammals) to feel safe and comfortable near their “parents.”
You may have accidentally encouraged this behavior, too. In all likelihood, you gave him some good attention the first time he did it, which only encouraged him to do it again. In this way, a feedback loop was created, and, before long, it became a habit for him.
If you’re ok with this behavior, then there’s no need to worry! Keep enjoying your puppy cuddles.
If you want this behavior to stop, then we’ll discuss strategies for that later on, so keep reading.
Why Does My Dog Bury His Head In The Couch
Dogs bury their heads in the couch because they find it comfortable and secure when resting. You will also find they do this when sleeping in their own bed.
Looking at wolves and wild dogs, dens are usually enclosed spaces such as caves or holes dug around tree roots or under boulders. This shows that dogs naturally feel more secure in an area of enclosed space, this may indicate one reason why your dog is burying their head in the couch.
Other reasons could consist of fallen food or toys that they are trying to get to. We all have issues with items fallen between the cushions on our sofas…..especially the TV remote. Your dog may be trying to get something they can smell. Be wary that if there is something stuck they may attempt to start digging at the sofa, so the best option is to get it out for them before any destruction occurs.
If your dog enjoys burying their head on your couch, consider changing its bed to a more poofy one. think about having extra cushions on it with plenty of gaps and crevices to bury their heads. Check out our article on the reasons your dog should have its own bed – “Do Dogs Need A Bed”.
What If A Service Animal Buries Their Head In Me
We should step in with a quick caveat that is important to know.
Service animals are trained to nudge or bury their head into their owners when they “trigger;” meaning that they simply detect something that they are trained to, and it could be anything for their owner, including:
- Low or high blood sugar
- A seizure coming on
- A blind person having dropped something unintentionally
Because of this, if a service dog comes up to you and nudges or buries its head in you, then you should get up immediately and follow them. They may be trying to tell you something is wrong with their owner, and they’ve been trained to get help.
How to Stop Your Dog from Burying His Head in You
While most people love to feel a dog being physically affectionate, we can all also admit that there are times when it’s less than ideal. Whether you’re watching a movie, trying to work, or doing anything else that requires focus, it’s good to know how to stop your dog from interrupting you like this.
Unlearning that behavior is tricky, but it can be done with proper training principles.
However, the much easier route is to teach your dog a command that gets him to stop doing it and leave you alone. Teaching a new behavior will always be easier than overwriting an old one—and besides, maybe there are times when you do want him to be cuddly with you!
- First, choose the command word and get some treats. This could be anything, but “Away”, “Get off” or “Back” are good choices. Good command words are one or two syllables and are easy for a dog to distinguish.
- Second, start by getting him to bury his head into you. Just get in a spot where he usually nuzzles into you and wait. You may have to be prepared to train him whenever he decides to do it, so keep your treats on hand for impromptu training sessions.
- Get his attention, then hold the treat in a place where he has to get his head away from you to get it. While you do this, say the command word and make an action with your hand. At this point, he isn’t reacting to the word yet. We are just trying to make the association between action and command.
- After 10 or so times of this, try saying the command word without moving the treat. If he reacts and moves away from you, then give him lots of good praise and treats as reinforcement. If he doesn’t move, you still have some work to do with the association part above.
- Do not give him any treats or attention if he puts his head back in your lap immediately after getting a treat. Doing that will only train him that he can get lots of treats by just doing this in a cycle. Once he gets a treat, give him a minute before attempting to train him again.
If you’re patient and work diligently with him, then you’ll be able to simply say the command word and have him unbury his head to give you some space.
When you want those puppy cuddles, you can have them—and when you don’t, now you have a command that will get him to leave you alone!
Just like us humans, dogs express a broad range of emotions and feelings through their body language. If your dog won’t stop burying his head in you, remember this handy cheat sheet:
- Check to see if he is trying to show you something specific
- Check if he is feeling anxious or not, and try to find the source of his anxiety
- If neither of the above is true, then it’s just a sign of affection and comfort that doesn’t need to cause you any concern or worry!
Of course, if you want to stop your dog from burying his head in you, just follow our quick training guide above to get him to give you some space.
If you enjoyed this article don’t forget to check out our homepage, where there are more great articles on the life we share with our dogs.