Do you want to know the real reasons why your dog gets in your face? These will help you get to know your dog more.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- Why your dog wants to groom you.
- 7 reasons why your dog gets in your face.
- 3 tips on how to stop your dog from getting in your face
- And many more…
Why does my dog get in my face?
Your dog gets in your face to groom you and greet you. They do these by licking your face, a behavior learned from their ancestors or from puppyhood. In dogs, licking is one way to establish ties. In some cases, dogs get in your face to get your undivided attention.
Why does my dog get in my face and stare?
Your dog gets in your face and stares because they want something or they smell what you have eaten. Dogs’ sense of smell is so powerful they know if you have eaten something a few minutes ago. But they also get in your face to communicate a need.
Why does my dog get in my face when I sneeze?
Your dog gets in your face when you sneeze out of curiosity. When you sneeze, you make a sound and display facial expressions that might catch their attention. Or they might just want a taste of your face. Dogs love the salty taste of sweat on your skin.
Why does my dog get in my face when I cry?
Your dog gets in your face when you cry because they’re observing you. Dogs are sensitive to emotional cues in humans, such as happiness, anger, and sadness. They can recognize whether you’re happy or sad judging by the vocalizations you make.
7 reasons why your dog gets in your face
#1: Your dog wants a taste of your face
Too bad dogs can’t use their hands – err, paws – the way humans do.
However, their tongue does the job of exploring their environment. Much as a baby would with their mouth.
They also use it to taste stuff. Did you know that dogs can taste salty, sweet, and sour?
That’s probably why some dogs love munching on chips. Or licking your skin after your workout.
So when a dog tries to give you a wet slap, it’s to explore the texture of your skin. Or to simply know how your face tastes.
And if they keep licking you, then you probably taste nice for your dog. They love the salty taste of sweat on your skin.
#2: Your dog wants your undivided attention
What better way to get your undivided attention than to shove their face to yours?
With their face down your nose, you have no choice but to look at them. Ah, mission accomplished.
And whenever your dog accomplishes this, the more they will do it. Because for dogs, attention is such a drug.
So if you give them attention whenever they do something, it reinforces that behavior.
For this reason, attention is one of the rewards when using positive reinforcement.
#3: Your dog wants to groom you
The importance of grooming in dogs cannot be emphasized enough.
From puppyhood to adulthood, grooming is a big part of their lives.
That’s the equivalent of showering in humans.
When puppies are born, their first experience of grooming comes from their biological mom. Mom licks the head and mouth of the puppy to stimulate respiration soon after birth.
In the first 10 days, there will be a lot of grooming. Mom uses licking to clean the puppies and promote bonding as well.
For the first 3 weeks, Mom will lick the puppies to stimulate defecating and urinating. By the end of this period, puppies should know how to defecate and urinate by themselves.
As the puppies grow, the frequency of grooming decreases. That’s because the mom is preparing her litter for independence.
When grooming, the mom may nibble on her puppy’s ears, face, and back. Nibbling is similar to what a human does when eating corn on a cob. They use their front teeth to do this.
Sometimes dogs do this to each other. In some cases, dogs nibble on cats.
Based on this experience, your dog may feel the need to groom you. But trust me, you wouldn’t want your dog nibbling on your face.
#4: Your dog smells the snack (or chicken) you just had
Trust your dog to know where the food is. Even if you’ve just swallowed it 5 minutes ago.
This reminds me of what dogs do in the wild. When the mom comes back from hunting, the puppies will come to her and lick her muzzle.
This is the signal that the puppies want to be fed. The mom will then regurgitate the meat in her belly that everyone will partake in.
Okay, so there’s no way that’s going to happen between you and your dog. But the reason why they get in your face is they can smell what you’ve just eaten.
A dog’s smelling prowess is out of this world. In fact, they can smell certain cancer from a human’s breath.
If that’s the case, I have no doubt they can smell the remnants of Pringles in your mouth.
So if you’re trying to sneak in behind your dog so you can eat your favorite chips, forget it. They’ll be on your face even before your first bite:
It’s also crazy how sleeping dogs can wake up to the smell of food. Just watch this dog snoring and being woken by the smell of treat:
I guess no sleep is too deep when there’s yummy food around.
#5: Your dog is greeting you
Ever wonder why your dog goes nuts when they see you after an hour of absence?
Greeting almost always involves lots of drool and tail wagging.
Experts attribute this to 2 reasons. First, the dog’s ancestry. In the wild, wolves greet each other by face licking.
Second, the dog’s brain. When they see you, it triggers the pathways in the brain associated with reward.
Whatever the reason, your dog waits by the door, ready to welcome you.
Jaytee, the ‘telepathic’ dog
Meet Jaytee, the ‘telepathic’ dog that seemed to know the arrival of his owner. Yet nobody could explain how Jaytee knew when to wait.
It all began when his owner left him with her parents when she went to work.
The parents noticed that Jaytee waited by the French window every day at about 4:30 pm. This was the time that his owner set off home.
Jaytee would wait by the window while his owner was on her way home.
The family attributed this ‘ability’ to time sense.
At one point the owner lost her job. She was gone for hours and did not have a set schedule of coming home.
But Jaytee still showed anticipation of her return.
The owner joined in a research study studying this phenomenon. She and her parents were asked to keep notes when she was away.
On 85 out of 100 occasions, Jaytee waited by the French window before his owner’s arrival.
At the conclusion of the experiments, there were surprising findings.
First of all, what Jaytee did couldn’t be explained by:
- Selective memory.
- Hearing a familiar car.
- Getting cues from the people around him.
The author’s observation was that:
‘Perhaps he (Jaytee) was responding to her (owner) intentions or thoughts telepathically.’
It still remained a mystery of how Jaytee could anticipate when his owner was going home.
The author also shared that other dog owners observed the same phenomenon in their dogs.
#6: Your dog is observing you
Nah, not in a creepy way.
But turns out, dogs are observing humans and learning from them.
Think of a toddler who you think spends most of the time playing or sleeping. Then suddenly they imitate something that you’ve said or done days before.
In a way, dogs are like that. When you think they’re not paying attention, they’re actually looking at you.
In fact, dogs find humans more interesting than other objects. Say, toys.
That’s one of the results of this 2014 study involving Border Collies. In one of the experiments, the dogs looked longer at their owner than a toy.
Thus, it’s no wonder why dogs seem enamored by their owner’s face. They look at your facial expressions, your body language. They detect the nuances in your voice based on your current mood.
That’s why dogs recognize when you’re happy or sad just by looking at your face. Or they cower when you raise your voice in anger.
These findings are supported by several studies. In particular, this 2018 research published in Learning & Behavior.
In the study, dogs, while feeding, were shown human faces showing basic emotion. The emotions were: fear, anger, neutral, disgust, surprise, and happiness.
The dogs turned their head to the left when shown anger, fear, and happiness emotions. They turned their head to the right when shown surprise.
One of the authors explained that the right hemisphere processes negative emotions. Whereas the left hemisphere processes positive emotions.
The same authors studied dogs’ responses to human vocalizations. They used playbacks of sounds corresponding to each emotion.
The results were similar to the other study. The dogs turned to the left when hearing the fear and sadness playbacks. They turned to the right when they heard happiness vocalizations.
These studies prove that dogs are sensitive to the emotional cues of human faces and vocalizations.
#7: Your dog shows his affection
Your dog gets in your face because they love you!
After all, a dog wouldn’t get in the face of a human he’s not comfortable with. Thus, when they get in your face, it’s also a sign of trust and security.
Remember, when dogs are puppies, they lick the muzzle of their mom.
One of the reasons why is to solicit care from the mom. Licking also signals the mom to respond to the puppy’s request.
Oxytocin is also a factor here. It is a hormone responsible for the bonding between a human mom and her baby.
According to this research, oxytocin has to do with the bond that humans and their dogs have. The results showed that oxytocin levels increase when the owner and dog engage in mutual gazing.
That probably explains your happiness when looking at your pooch. And why your dog loves getting in your face to gaze at you.
And maybe slip a few kisses while they’re at it.
Bonus: Your dog wants something
If dogs want something from you, they will communicate with you.
But if you ignore them, they might get in your face. They’ve probably learned that doing it sends the message across.
Faster than using vocalizations and body language.
Dogs are smarter than people give them credit for. In fact, they might be keeping tabs of past behaviors and patterns that got them what they want.
How else can they know that you easily fall for those eyes as huge as Puss in Boots’? Or that you’re a sucker for their tippy taps?
If getting in your face makes you do their bidding fast, then so be it.
3 tips on how to stop your dog from getting in your face
#1: Keep your dog occupied
I know, your dog getting in your face can be annoying at times.
One solution is to keep them occupied. Get them busy in a positive way.
Give them a puzzle toy, for starters. That should keep them busy and quiet for a few minutes at least.
#2: Teach them the ‘off’ command
The ‘off’ command works like this:
- If your dog is about to get too close, get a treat. Use it to lead him where you want him to stay and say the word ‘Off!’
- When he follows, give him the treat and praises.
Note: You can also use this command if you don’t want your dog on the furniture.
#3: Don’t reward the behavior
A dog keeps doing something whenever it is rewarded.
So if they get in your face and you shower them with kisses, they’ll do it again.
If you don’t want them to do it, don’t encourage them. Don’t reward the behavior by giving them kisses and attention.
What you should do is ignore your dog when they do this. If they keep doing it, leave the room for 5 minutes.
Then return to the room and continue interacting with your dog.
Note: Consistency must be observed when teaching your dog something.