Why Does My Dog Put His Head on Me?

So, why does my dog lay its head on me? Possible reasons why your dog lays its head on you are that it makes it feel more comfortable, it does it has separation anxiety, it wants attention or it might be doing it in a dominating way.

Below, I will mention a number of reasons why your dog might lay its head on you and what would make them more likely. This would be more likely if it tends to rest its head on you when you would normally go out and if it gets anxious when you are about to leave.

To prevent this youll need to spend time training it not to lay its head on you by ignoring it, getting it off you and rewarding it when it doesnt do it. Below, I will mention some particularly helpful things to consider when trying to figure out why your dog lays its head on you. If it started doing it after you rewarded it for putting its head on you one time then it could be that you have inadvertently trained it to do it.

Instead, of giving your dog things that it wants when it rests its head on you, it would help to train it not to and to reward it when it is being well behaved. Likely reasons why your dog would lay his head on your feet are that he is waiting to see when you get up, has some separation anxiety, simply likes the feeling or feels more secure by touching you. It would help to consider if there is a certain time that your dog tends to lay his head on your feet.

If your dog also does things such as get you to pet it, it would be more likely that it is being affectionate and wants attention from you. Whereas, if your dog tends to do it more before you go to work or bed, it would be more likely to be separation anxiety. Likely reasons why your dog would lay his head on your head are that he is being affectionate, likes the feeling, feels safer by touching you or has learned that the behavior is rewarded.

However, it might also be the case that your dog has some separation anxiety or is just waiting for you to get up and feed it. It would help to consider if there is a certain time that your dog tends to do it such as before you have fed it in the morning. It is likely that your dog lays his head on you when he sleeps because he is being affectionate, feels safer and possibly has some separation anxiety.

What does it mean when dogs put their head on you?

This has nothing to do with dominance. Instead, it’s an affectionate way to say, “You’re safe and we’re in this together.” It’ll make your heart melt, really. And it helps us to better understand our domestic dogs.

Why does my dog lay his head on me and stare at me?

Just as humans stare into the eyes of someone they adore, dogs will stare at their owners to express affection. In fact, mutual staring between humans and dogs releases oxytocin, known as the love hormone. This chemical plays an important role in bonding and boosts feelings of love and trust.

What does it mean when a dog puts his head in between your legs?

It sounds as if you’ ve given him a great home and that he’s fitting in nicely, even if “fitting in” sometimes refers to the space between a man’s legs. The behavior you describe isn’t uncommon, and it could be due to excitement or anxiety. A scared dog may try to “hide” somewhere he thinks is safe.

Dogs are often treated as part of the family. Since family members show each other affection with hugs, kisses, cuddles, and nuzzles, you probably take it for granted that your dog is showing you love when he nuzzles your face or neck with his muzzle, places his head on your shoulder, or when he presses his forehead against your face. While this might be the case, is it the only explanation for this behavior or are there other reasons why your dog pushes his face against yours? Are all these reasons good or bad? Dog experts and animal psychologists demystify this behavior in the post below.

According to an article
featured in UK Daily mail, new proof uncovered by Jennifer Mayer and Dr Deborah
Custance from the Department of Psychology at Goldsmiths supports this belief.

Your dog lays his head on you when he sleeps because hes spreading his scent, providing emotional support, suffering from separation anxiety, protecting, and feeling warmth. Its also an expression of love, safety, trust, attention-seeking, tiredness, depression, sickness, or fear.

This is one of the reasons your dog loves to lay their head on you when dozing off. Theyre spreading their scent on their special human so when another dog sniffs you, theyll know who you belong to.

Researchers even point out that jealous dogs are pretty much like children. A study even found out that furchildren not only feel your pain, they also try to rescue you. This also shows that if your dog lays their head on you when they sleep, knowing youre struggling, that you two have a very strong bond.

Did you know that there are over 471 million dog children around the world? Have you ever looked at your furchild and wondered, Hmm Does my dog really love me? They wait for you to get home, politely ask for pets, and stare with those adorable eyes.

Big words but it simply means whats going on in the brain when you feel an emotion. When you smell cooking that reminds you of your mothers dish, the nostalgic feeling triggers the hippocampus in your brain. Researchers found out that when your furchild smells you, their caudate nucleus gets activated.

Despite our brains being different from theirs (theirs is the size of a lemon), we actually have a caudate nucleus as well. If you keep wondering, My dog always lays his head on me. Back when they were out in the wild, the pack needed to huddle for warmth for survival.

Im sure your house is warm enough and their beds cozy. A couple of their favorite warm spots to lay their head on are the feet, hands, neck, and armpit. They lay their head on you while they sleep because they know that theyre safe.

One way to figure out if your furbaby has already gotten comfortable with you is if they lay their head on you as they sleep. So, if your pupper is laying their head on you as they sleep, this means that something demands your attention. This can mean that they arent comfortable with their sleeping area, theyre intimidated by an older sibling/other people.

Narcolepsy, for example, is common for puppies and younger dogs. This chemical is needed for normal sleep patterns. If your furbaby has this, theyll suddenly collapse and fall asleep after the following:

Breeds that are prone to it are Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, and Dobermans. If your furchild is obese, has a problem with their immune system, or physically inactive, theyre more vulnerable to this disease. Theyre laying their head on you while they sleep because they cant rest properly at night.

Insomnia in dogs can be triggered by pent-up energy, stress, arthritis, fleas, peeing problems, etc. Dogs experience depression similar to humans. If theyre moping around and dont engage in things they used to love, these are signs.

It can be triggered by the arrival of a fursibling, a newborn baby, moving to a new place, etc. Research says that two main types of illnesses can hurt your furbaby: infections as well as organic and metabolic diseases. Infections are often accompanied by coughing, vomiting, eye discharge, and fevers.

Parvovirus, Kennel cough, heartworm disease, and distemper are common infections in dogs. Rapid breathing and constant thirst are also surefire symptoms. They cant fix their mess of chewed-up furniture or toilet paper.

Note: Some dog parents mistake this as guilt. But dogs are unable to experience guilt since they dont differentiate right from wrong. Watch their body language, facial expressions, and vocalization.

If it happens occasionally, its fine but its daily, things can get out of hand. Then, if they stay in the area, shower them with praise, pets, and treats. If you want to be scratched off of your dogs comfy-places-to-sleep list, make sure that they have their own place to rest.

This includes a dog bed, crate, pillow, etc. Keep in mind that he/shell need training to stay there. Youll need to be consistent and train them every single time.

If you have one of those adorable puppers that lays their snout on your arm, knee, or feet, youve probably asked yourself, Why does my dog rest their head on me? Is it out of a selfish desire for ear scratches? Would they like you to feed them their favourite dog food? Is this their way of telling you they dont actually like that expensive doggie bed you bought them?

You would think that these doggie ancestors would create a big cuddle nets with tails and legs and snouts all tangled up and cozy. Experts believe that this might be a way to ensure that the wolves most crucial to pack survival are well protected from freezing temperatures.

Todays dogs dont have to worry about protecting the leader of the pack from freezing temperatures. Through their long process of domestication and evolution alongside humans, our furry friends have held onto some of those survival tactics. In fact, weve written a whole article on How To Say I Love You In Dog Language because there are a ton of ways that are unique to individual doggos.

Security

Most dog breeds were bred to work alongside their owners and feel more secure when they are in a group. Laying its head on you could be helping it to feel safer since it will make it feel like it is in a group and less vulnerable.

Separation anxiety

It could be the case that your dog has some separation anxiety which is where being left alone causes it to become nervous. This would be more likely if it tends to rest its head on you when you would normally go out and if it gets anxious when you are about to leave.Related: Why is my dog obsessed with me?

It wants attention

The reason that it lays its head on you could be that it is trying to get attention from you. This would be more likely if you tend to give it more attention when it rests its head on you and if it does it when you have not given it much attention.If you want it to stop doing it then it would help to avoid giving it attention when it does it and to give it attention throughout the day in the form of training, exercise and play.Related: Why does my dog grunt?

To spread its scent

The reason that it does it might be that it is trying to spread its scent onto you so that other dogs can smell it on you and steer clear of you.To prevent this you’ll need to spend time training it not to lay its head on you by ignoring it, getting it off you and rewarding it when it doesn’t do it.

Things to consider

Below, I will mention some particularly helpful things to consider when trying to figure out why your dog lays its head on you. Once you have a better idea of the cause it will be easier to take the appropriate action.

When your dog does it

The timing of when it lays its head on you could also be helpful to consider. If it only seems to do it at a certain time then it would be likely that there is a reason for it. For example, if it only seems to do it when you have not given it much attention then it might be trying to get attention from you.

Ignore it

Since your dog might be doing it in order to get attention from you, it would help to avoid rewarding it with attention when it does it. Instead, it would help to train it not to do it as mentioned below and to give it attention when it is being well behaved.

Avoid negative reinforcement training

Negative reinforcement training is where you inadvertently reinforce bad behaviors by rewarding your dog when it displays them. Instead, of giving your dog things that it wants when it rests its head on you, it would help to train it not to and to reward it when it is being well behaved.

Train it not to

You can also train your dog not to lay its head on you by teaching it to sit somewhere else. You can do this by teaching it to sit or to lay down somewhere and then by gradually teaching it to stay there over longer and longer time periods.You can do this by applying the same techniques as in the video below:

Give it attention

Since it might be doing it in order to get attention from you it would help to give it attention throughout the day in the form of training, exercise and play.

Introduction

Dogs are often treated as part of the family. Since family members show each other affection with hugs, kisses, cuddles, and nuzzles, you probably take it for granted that your dog is showing you love when he nuzzles your face or neck with his muzzle, places his head on your shoulder, or when he presses his forehead against your face. While this might be the case, is it the only explanation for this behavior or are there other reasons why your dog pushes his face against yours? Are all these reasons good or bad? Dog experts and animal psychologists demystify this behavior in the post below.

The Root of the Behavior

Dawn Kovell, an animal trainer and behaviorist form Marin Humane Society says interpreting dog nuzzling is all about context. For instance, when your dog meets a stranger, he will sniff at him and if he likes what he smells, he will nuzzle and rub his head against the person as an invitation of friendship. But when your dog nuzzles you, he could be doing it to establish ownership. Dogs have scent glands in their faces so when your dog nudges you with his head, he is marking you with his scent to signal other dogs to keep off.Rooted in most dog lovers’ belief that their dogs can empathize with their emotions could be yet another explanation. According to an article featured in UK Daily mail, new proof uncovered by Jennifer Mayer and Dr Deborah Custance from the Department of Psychology at Goldsmith’s supports this belief. To test the hypothesis that dogs have empathy, the scientists exposed eighteen dogs to people and observed how the dogs reacted when those people were talking, pretending to cry or humming. They noted that the dogs could distinguish between humming and crying sounds and that most of them approached and touched the human participants while they were crying. The dogs also had a submissive demeanor, almost as though they were concerned and wanted to comfort the crying people. Moreover, the dogs were indiscriminate in their concern for all participants and did not distinguish between their owners or strangers. This, says Dr. Mayer, goes to show that the nuzzling action was not driven by a selfish want for pleasure because if they wanted attention or connection, they would have approached their owners and not strangers. It is therefore safe to say that your dog can nuzzle you because you exhibit negative emotions, but this empathy can also extend to others.Roger Abrantes, an evolutionary biologist weighs in on this issue by saying that certain behaviors that dogs exhibit in puppyhood are vital to a dog’s survival hence they don’t disappear in later years. For instance, puppies lick their mothers’ mouths to trigger regurgitation which is how they get their daily sustenance. Much like licking, nuzzling is a pacifying behavior that in dog to dog interaction ensures their survival and wellbeing. Puppies nuzzle their mothers for comfort and when they grow up, they nuzzle their human owners.

Encouraging the Behavior

While this behavior is to be encouraged, how you respond to your dog nuzzling you is very important. Look at it this way, if someone you love nuzzles you, you will respond in kind with an affectionate gesture because nuzzling in humans beings is mostly about love. But given the points discussed above, nuzzling in dogs is not the same. One response that is discouraged by dog experts is hugging or cuddling. Dr. Stanley Coren, a professor at the University of British Columbia conducted a study to show that contrary to what humans think, dogs exhibit a negative response to being cuddled. He analyzed 250 photographs taken while 10 dogs were being hugged and found that 81.6% of the time, the dogs looked anxious, stressed, and uncomfortable. This is because dogs are created for swift running in case of a threat, hence having both arms around your dog denies him the ability to run. Given this, your dog may then default to his second line of defense, which is to bite. Claire Matthews, a canine behaviorist agrees with this point of view. She says that the stress a dog experiences when being hugged arises out of feeling intimidated. A better way to express love for your dog when he nuzzles is with a pat or treat.

Other Solutions and Considerations

There are times when nose nudging is done to show submission. However, the opposite can also be true. When an ‘underdog’ nose-nudges another dog, he does this to show submission. On the other hand, when a dominant dog nose-nudges another dog, this is a show of dominance. This dynamic also applies in dog-human interaction whereby if your dog is a dominant type, he could be nudging you in the face to show his dominance over you. According to an article shared on Cesar’s Way, nudging that is motivated by dominance happens frequently and is often accompanied by other behavior such as barking, obstructing your path and mounting. Usually, this will continue until your dog gets what he wants. This type of nudging should not be encouraged but should be corrected through behavioral training.

#1: Scent-marking

Have you ever touched your furbaby after you petted another dog?Oh boy, you sure are in big trouble. What on earth were you thinking?And more importantly, how did you survive it? Although it’s common knowledge that we own our furchildren, it’s also true that they own us.In fact, they claim us.This is one of the reasons your dog loves to lay their head on you when dozing off. They’re spreading their scent on their special human so when another dog sniffs you, they’ll know who you belong to.Sneaky but smart.Dogs are notoriously territorial, especially with their furmom/dad. Researchers even point out that jealous dogs are pretty much like children.

#2: Support

Feeling down lately? Or, are you suffering from an illness?If yes, this is why your dog lays their head on you. They sense your distress.They’re comforting you. It’s as if they’re saying, “Hey, you’re not alone. I’m here with you.”This is because dogs are empathetic. A study even found out that furchildren not only feel your pain, they also try to rescue you.They are quick to jump into action. This also shows that if your dog lays their head on you when they sleep, knowing you’re struggling, that you two have a very strong bond.

#3: Separation anxiety

Do you often leave your furbaby home while you work? Or, did you recently go away for a vacation or an out-of-town trip?If this is the case, your dog has separation anxiety. They’re scared that you’ll be gone again and this time for good.This is why your pupper is laying their head on you as they slumber. They don’t want you to go without them knowing.

#4: Protection

All dogs have protective instincts. They show it differently though.Some are aggressive, barking at the smallest noises. There are also those that will express this by laying their head on you.Think of your furbaby as a 24/7 bodyguard. They have your back even as they drift to sleepy town.

#5: Love

Did you know that there are over 471 million dog children around the world? They rank no. 1 in choices for pets.This is unsurprising.Dogs are affectionate and loyal. They’re also clingy as hell but we love them for it.They’re certified stalkers. Good thing they’re cute or we’d call the police.Such sweet little angels.But, let me ask you something. Have you ever looked at your furchild and wondered, “Hmm… Does my dog really love me? Or, are they just in it for the food?”Horrible, I know. This is a question that no furparent should ever ask.Plus, of course, they do love you. Every single day, despite their mischievous little acts, they prove it.They wait for you to get home, politely ask for pets, and stare with those adorable eyes. But, let’s pretend we’re skeptics for a minute.

#6: Warmth

As you probably know, wolves are the ancestors of dogs. If you keep wondering,It’s actually a wolf thing.Back when they were out in the wild, the pack needed to huddle for warmth for survival. They also did this as a way to bond with their families.Now, back to the present.Your furbaby has evolved but some of their instincts remain. I’m sure your house is warm enough and their bed’s cozy.But, they’d still prefer to sleep right next to you.Can you blame them? What’s better than a moving and breathing heating pad?Plus in their minds, they’re both keeping you warm. A couple of their favorite warm spots to lay their head on are the feet, hands, neck, and armpit.

#7: Safety

Dogs are like babies. They’re completely helpless without you.They don’t grow up and develop the way we do. They can’t get a job, get married, and move out.You’re all they have.And so, they are thankful that you take care of them. They feel secure with you.They lay their head on you while they sleep because they know that they’re safe. They appreciate the love and support you’ve given them.

#8: Trust

Every dog is different.Some will instantly love your presence. There are also those who’ll take some time to warm up to you.One way to figure out if your furbaby has already gotten comfortable with you is if they lay their head on you as they sleep.

#9: Attention

Dogs are very social animals.They can’t be alone for too long. Plus, each one will have a unique set of needs that need to be fulfilled.So, if your pupper is laying their head on you as they sleep, this means that something demands your attention.This can mean that they aren’t comfortable with their sleeping area, they’re intimidated by an older sibling/other people. This can also mean that they miss you and want to spend more time with you.In other cases, this translates to them feeling under the weather.

#11: Depression

Fatigue isn’t always bad.Sometimes this can mean that they’re spent after playtime. Or that, their tummy’s full and this makes them sleepy.Just like us humans.Other times, however, fatigue can be a cause for concern. This is the case with sleeping disorders.Narcolepsy, for example, is common for puppies and younger dogs. It’s triggered by low levels of hypocretin.This chemical is needed for normal sleep patterns. If your furbaby has this, they’ll suddenly collapse and fall asleep after the following:This condition isn’t painful or fatal. Your furbaby will usually wake up after a loud noise.Breeds that are prone to it are Labrador Retrievers, Poodles, and Dobermans. If your furchild is obese, has a problem with their immune system, or physically inactive, they’re more vulnerable to this disease.Another cause is insomnia. They’re laying their head on you while they sleep because they can’t rest properly at night.Insomnia in dogs can be triggered by pent-up energy, stress, arthritis, fleas, peeing problems, etc.

#13: Fear

Is this you:
If yes, then do consider the possibility that your furchild is sick. Behavior change is a sign of illness.Think about it.What happens when you’re sick? Isn’t it that all you want to do is sleep?What’s more is that during this vulnerable time, you’d want your parents to look after you.But, dogs can’t talk.Unlike us humans, they can only bark and communicate through actions. Sometimes they can’t even be bothered to do that because their body feels weak.Don’t freak out yet.Surely there are other symptoms that should go with this. Research says that two main types of illnesses can hurt your furbaby: infections as well as organic and metabolic diseases.Let’s discuss each one.Infections are often accompanied by coughing, vomiting, eye discharge, and fevers. Parvovirus, Kennel cough, heartworm disease, and distemper are common infections in dogs.As for metabolic and organic sickness, diabetes, heart issues, hypoglycemia, and liver problems are the major issues.You’ll observe that they don’t exercise and eat as much. Rapid breathing and constant thirst are also surefire symptoms.But wait, there’s more…Aside from the two mentioned above, other factors may be harming your dog. These are the following:

#1: Figure them out

Each behavior can be interpreted in many ways. Since our furchildren can’t talk, it’s our job to decode their actions.So, ask yourself:Is this head-laying-while-sleeping usually their thing? Or, is it something strange?If it’s their habit then it’s an expression of their love and appreciation for you. And, you shouldn’t be worried.But, if it came out of the blue, it’s time to investigate.Watch their body language, facial expressions, and vocalization. These will give you a clue to the underlying issue.If you suspect that something’s serious, don’t hesitate to contact the vet.

#2: Train them not to

Sleeping with their head on you is undeniably cute. But, what if you have important things to attend to?Then it can get inconvenient. If it happens occasionally, it’s fine but it’s daily, things can get out of hand.The solution? Positive reinforcement training.There are many ways you can go with this. Just remember that the key is rewarding good behavior.Carry them to where you want them to be. Then, if they stay in the area, shower them with praise, pets, and treats.