Are you confused if your pooch is a dog or a ram?
They always nudge you using their head.
And sometimes, they charge and headbutt you all of a sudden.
What are they trying to say?
Read on to understand this habit and learn:
- What makes you a target for headbutts.
- When you should be concerned about this.
- 3 tips to help you curb this head bumping spree.
- If this is rude behavior in the doggy world or not.
- And many more…
Table of contents
Why does my dog headbutt me?
Your dog headbutts you because they’re excited, herding you, hungry or thirsty, anxious, sick, or it’s a natural thing in their breed. This could also be their way of showing affection, starting a game, telling you that they either like or hate what you’re doing, marking you, or testing boundaries.
13 reasons why your dog headbutts you
#1: Your dog has an adrenaline rush
“What is a high-five?
I only know head bumps!”
You arrive home after a long day at work.
Then your pooch charges at you with their head lowered down and bumps it on you.
They don’t seem mad or anything. But it sure hurts sometimes.
“Why did my dog headbutt me?”
Well, if this is your case, consider it as a fist bump, greeting, or welcome hug.
Your dog is only oozing with excitement. And they might just love using their head to express it.
Yup, canines can be both weird and adorable like that. So they may also do this in other scenarios.
Say, when they’re having so much fun playing with you. Or when they see you preparing a yummy meal.
Interesting fact: Is your dog excited to see your face? A study found that they don’t focus on it when you come home. They come closer to have a better smell, rather than to see you up close.
For further reading: Why does my dog howl when I get home?
#2: Your dog is ‘herding’ you
You’re moving away from the pack.”
Does your pooch follow you everywhere and nudge you by their head?
They were bred to gather and control the movements of animals like cattle and sheep.
This is deeply ingrained in them that they may do it on humans too. And according to AKC, they mostly herd small kids.
So there might be instances when your dog doesn’t want the direction you’re going. Or, they’re leading you to the kitchen where their food bowl is because…
#3: Your dog says it’s mealtime
“My dog keeps headbutting me and I don’t know why.”
Do they also stare at you intently?
Or point in a specific direction?
These little cues may help you figure out what they want. And if they don’t seem excited, it might be due to hunger.
Usually, their begging will intensify when it’s taking you too long to understand them.
Some canines lead their humans to their feeder or treat jar. And this screams, “It’s time for me to eat”, “More food, please,” or “I’m thirsty.”
Check out also: 13 Reasons Why Your Dog Always Licks You When You Wake Up
#4: Your dog shows you some love
“Mom/Dad, it’s cuddle time!”
You probably know love biting or licking in dogs. These are some of their ways to express love and trust.
But, did you know that headbutting is included in the list too?
Your pooch might need some affection at the moment. Especially if they’re head bumping you gently.
And if they’re a cuddly type, they’ll do this more frequently.
Also, if they’re showing you their head, they may want you to lightly scratch it for them.
#5: Your dog is doing it for attention
“I was just doing something.
Then my dog headbutted me all of a sudden.
Same with begging for food or affection, head bumping can also be used to demand attention.
It’s like they’re telling you to notice them because they feel sad or bored.
If you’re watching TV on the couch, they may want to be included in what you’re doing and sit next to you. Or, they need some petting or a potty break outside.
Have they been doing this for a while now?
If so, it could be that this behavior was rewarded before. So they learned that headbutting you will always guarantee them your attention.
#6: Your dog wants to play
In the canine world, headbutts can also be a playful action.
Some dogs start a play by bumping their heads on others. And you’ll know that they’re not being aggressive because their furry pals enjoy it.
“But my dog headbutted me in the nose/chin/mouth.
Why do they do it?”
It might be because they’re approaching other doggos in the same way – like what I’ve said earlier. But, this can also be an accident.
So be careful as your dog will often run to you to initiate a game. And they’re likely going to land on your head or face.
They’re naturally energetic, so it’ll hurt so much if they targeted the wrong part of your body.
“Are they not being aggressive?”
In this case, they’re only being playful.
Here are the signs you should look for which indicates playtime:
Oh, another thing is by doing a ‘play bow.’
This is when a dog is looking at you with its front legs down. While their hind and tail are raised. Like they’re anticipating you to throw a ball.
#7: Your dog wants more of what you’re doing
“Hey, don’t stop.
Do it more, please?”
Does your pooch headbutt you when you stop petting them?
This only means that they’re enjoying what you’re doing and you’re hitting the right spot.
According to experts, most canines prefer to be scratched under their chin, back of their neck, or at the base of their tail.
So just continue as they’ve given you permission to do so.
However, read their signs carefully as it can also be the opposite and…
#8: Your dog tells you to stop
In some cases, they might not also be in the mood for cuddles or play.
And they’re telling you, “I’ve had enough and I’m declining you politely while I’m being nice.”
They could be sleepy, tired, or naturally distant. So they don’t want any interaction at the moment.
#9: Your dog is marking you
Does it seem more like a rub rather than a bump?
If yes, your pooch might be spreading their scent on you.
Specialists say that apart from their paws, dogs also have sweat glands on their noses. So this could be the reason why they’re pressing their faces sometimes.
“But why do they do this?”
Canines can be very territorial. And aside from their food and toys, you’re also important to them.
So they may guard you against others when you’re out in the park with other dogs. Or in a gathering with people and pets.
If they’re feeling insecure, they’ll do this to let other animals know that you’re already ‘taken.’
Note: If they often rub their head or face on you, it could be due to itchiness. So, inspect their skin. Then see a vet right away if this persists for days.
You might also be interested in: Why does my dog rub against me like a cat?
#10: Your dog is testing boundaries
“My puppy headbutted me out of nowhere.”
If you have a young pooch, it’s normal for them to be playful.
But, headbutting you can also mean that they’re testing their limits. This could be particular in dogs under puberty.
Yup, they’ll also go through a ‘rebellious’ teenage phase.
So they might try all sorts of tricks to see your reaction. This is because they may have these questions in their mind:
“Is he/she going to love it?”
“Is my hooman going to scold me for this?”
And having the answers for these helps them know how to act around you.
#11: Your dog is seeking security
If this is done suddenly, your pooch might also be scared.
It’s like when children hide behind their parents or ask to be held when spooked.
Most dogs love people’s company. And research shows that their favorite humans can act as a security blanket too.
So when they feel unsafe, they’ll look for their parents.
Studies say these increases love hormones or oxytocin in both humans and dogs.
#12: Your dog is feeling unwell
Is this a completely new behavior?
If so, and they’re pressing their head on you for a while, this could be out of discomfort.
But before jumping to conclusions, observe them closely.
Are there more changes in how they act, appetite, and level of energy?
Because the common signs of illnesses are:
- Refusing to eat.
- Having loose stools.
- Becoming less active.
But you may also wonder, “Why does my dog headbutt things?”
Do they also do it on walls and other solid objects?
If so, this can be an indicator of neurological diseases. Such as:
- Slipped disc.
- Autoimmune diseases.
- Infections of the brain/spinal cord.
Aside from head pressing, other symptoms of these ailments are:
Note: One thing to confirm this is by having them checked by an expert.
Read this article next: Why is my dog so clingy all of a sudden?
#13: It’s a breed-specific trait
Lastly, this headbutting behavior might also be in their genes.
This is mainly observed in:
- Bull Terriers.
“But why do they love doing this?”
This could be a result of their breeding and physique.
They’re fighting dogs and it’s visible in their names. Because well, bulls are animals known for their headbutting.
One research also discovered that dogs’ temperaments are linked with their head shape.
Flat-faced ones like the breeds above are more likely to play with their humans physically.
It’s also said that they’re more attached to their parents. So they’ll also do this as a sign of affection.
Trivia: Do you wonder why Bull Terriers have an ‘egg-shaped’ head? This is because they’re a mix of Bulldogs and Terriers. Hence, the wide face and jaws with a long snout.
3 tips on what to do if your dog headbutts you
#1: Curb the headbutting
A dog giving you ‘head bumps’ may seem cute at first. But if they often do this for attention, it might be a true pain in the head.
Plus, this could result in accidents and injuries to your face.
Your pooch probably won’t like to hurt you either. So, teach them to stop as early as possible.
Saying “no” and “stop” countless times might not be effective in curbing this.
What you need to do is to ignore them or walk away whenever they charge at you.
Yes, even though it’s hard, avoid giving any reactions. As well as petting them. (But it’s a different issue when they’re coming to you for security.)
Then only praise and give them attention once they’ve calmed down.
Note: Breeds who have inherited this behavior are harder to train. Instead of removing it completely, try limiting it. Teach them to do it gently without jumping. And reward them every time they do so.
#2: Figure out what they want
Pay extra attention to the cues your pooch is giving.
There are listed signs earlier if they want to play. But if they want to take a walk, they may go by the door or also lead you to their leash.
Check their food bowl too. See if there’s water and refill it if it’s empty. Or your dog could be feeling extra hungry that day.
But do they also pace and have flattened ears? Because they might be scared of something.
Look around your surroundings and reassure your dog. Then lead them to a quiet room or their crate to help them calm down.
#3: Teach them to push buttons instead
You can either let them head butt you whenever they need something. Or, teach them a different way to ask you.
If you pick the latter, why not consider getting some dog training buttons?
It shouldn’t be complicated like associating words to buttons.
Just simply teach them to push a bell when they want to go out. Or a different button when they want to play.
Check out this short video:
Note: Training them will take a lot of time and effort. But, if you’re determined to do this, there’s nothing impossible.
#BONUS: Observe and get help
Headbutting is usually a playful or affectionate behavior.
But, you also know your pooch well.
So if you notice any unusual things – pressing their head on walls for seconds, consult a vet at once.
Don’t forget to check out: 13 Reasons Why Your Dog Sits In The Corner + Dangers & Tips
People also ask:
Why does my dog headbutt my head?
Your dog headbutts your head because they might be: excited, asking you to play with them, testing boundaries, or encouraged to do so. Some fighting dog breeds like American Pitbull Terriers may also love doing this out of instinct.
So, this isn’t some kind of a ‘dominance’ gesture. Canines know that you’re not one of them and they’re not challenging you in any way.
They might only do this because of the adrenaline rush. Or if they need something or were given attention after headbutting you.
Why does my dog headbutt his food bowl?
Your dog headbutts his food bowl because he doesn’t feel like eating. This is why he’s trying to ‘bury’ it and save it for later.
It’s also possible that he’s showing distaste and doesn’t want to eat the food you’ve given. Or, he’s knocking his food down as he prefers to eat on the floor.
If this happens, take the bowl away and play with your pooch for a bit. Have a short walk or teach some tricks. Then afterward, bring the food again and see if they eat.
But if he does this when it’s empty, it could be a request to refill their feeder with water. Or he’s telling you that it’s already mealtime.
Why does my dog headbutt other dogs?
Your dog headbutts other dogs because they want to play with them. Also, if they do it to a younger pooch, they could be disciplining the puppy because of rude behavior.
This is only normal and it’s mainly used to start a game. So you’ll see your dog charging like a bull and bumping its head on another canine’s body.