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7 Reasons Why Your Dog Doesn’t Like You Touching His Face

Why Does My Dog Not Like Me Touching His Face

“No face touching!”,

Your dog would say if they could talk… 

But you can’t help it.

Plus, sometimes their eyes need cleaning. 

What to do?

In this article, you’ll discover:

  • 7 real reasons why dogs don’t like it when their face is touched.
  • 5 scenarios of dogs not liking when someone is touching their face.
  • Whether there’s such a thing as a hand-shy dog and what it means.
  • And many more…

Why does my dog not like me touching his face?

Your dog doesn’t like you touching his face because of reasons such as illness, aging, stressful environment, or hand shyness. He could also have PTSD, sensitive whiskers, or be sensitive to touch.

Why does my dog yawn when I touch his face?

Your dog yawns when you touch his face because he’s uncomfortable with your touch. Yawning is their way to calm themselves when they feel in distress.

This is also a way to avoid conflict. So, instead of growling, barking, or snapping at you, they yawn.

Dr. Malcolm Weir mentioned that a dog’s stressful yawn is longer than their sleepy yawn. 

7 reasons why your dog doesn’t like you touching his face

#1: Illness

Sometimes a simple caress can bring pain to pooches. That’s when your pooch would try to avoid your touch.

The pain that face touching brings could be due to toothache, jaw pain, and skin tumor. 

Let’s look at these in-depth. Shall we?


Toothache in dogs comes from a broken tooth, cavities, tartar build-up, and swollen gums. 

As a result, touching the face near your dog’s mouth will cause pain.

Jaw pain / Masticatory muscle myositis (MMM)

According to Dr. Malcolm Weir this condition happens when the immune system targets the dog’s own muscle tissue.

The masticatory muscles are responsible for your dog’s chewing movement. 

MMM causes these muscles to become swollen and painful. Which makes the pooch become sensitive to any touch on their face. 

Canine cutaneous histiocytoma (CCH)

Veterinary Surgeon Joan Rest defines CCH as a benign tumor that affects the dog’s skin. Any dog breed can develop this, but it’s common in Bull Terriers and Boxer Dogs. 

Symptoms of this skin condition include:

  • Itching.
  • Infection.
  • Bleeding.
  • Inflammation of the skin. 

These symptoms are painful. Specifically, if someone touches their skin. 

Warning: The CCH condition is contagious. A CCH-carrying tick can send it from one dog to another by biting on the dog’s skin. 

#2: Aging

Dog's Aging And Doesn't Like You Touching His Face

Senior dogs often experience bone or orthopedic problems.

One of them is…


A.k.a Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD). It’s a continuous joint inflammation caused by cartilage deterioration. 

Inflammation in your dog’s joints is painful and is sensitive to touch. 

According to AKC the signs of Osteoarthritis in dogs are:

  • Lethargy.
  • Weight gain.
  • Pain when petted or touched.
  • Reluctance to run, jump, or play.
  • Irritability or changes in behavior.
  • Loss of muscle mass over the limbs and spine.
  • Stiffness, lameness, limping, or difficulty getting up.
  • Difficulty posturing to urinate or defecate or having accidents in the house.

You might wonder why this happens. After all, you only touch the face. Not the joints.

The reason?

Because of their condition, your dog could start associating any touch with pain.               

#3: Post traumatic stress disorder (a.k.a PTSD)

“The pain of the past is the pain of your present.” -Janet Philbin 

Dogs with unpleasant events in life can develop PTSD.  

The act of touching your dog’s face may bring back painful and traumatic memories. 

Let’s say, for example, your dog experienced being slapped. Or someone threw something in their face before. 

It’ll cause dogs to become fearful, distant, and aggressive if their PTSD is triggered.

The memories of traumatic events will come back crashing like waves. It’ll concern them each time something is approaching their faces. 

So they’ll avoid it from happening again.

A study’s data about canine PTSD shows that 88% of dogs with PTSD avoid their triggers persistently. And avoidance of their triggers will get worse as time goes by.

#4: Sensitive whiskers

Does your dog have long whiskers?

If they do, it could be the reason why they don’t want you to touch their face. 

You often see their whiskers above their upper lip and eyes. Also on their chin. But it differs depending on your dog’s breed.

Have you ever wondered what their whiskers are for?

It serves an important purpose in a dog’s intense senses. Their whiskers help their vision and sense of smell to perform at it’s best. 

Dr. Ryan Llera says that whiskers are much more sensitive than normal hairs. Because their follicles are loaded with nerves and blood vessels.

He also added that a dog’s whiskers are similar to a human’s fingertips when it comes to sensitivity. 

Note: A dog’s whiskers don’t need to be trimmed for aesthetic purposes.

#5: Touch-sensitive 

Some dogs are very sensitive to touch. 

They’ll show signs that they don’t like it such as:

  • Barking.
  • Cowering.
  • Being distant. 
  • Running away.

If they start to act like that, you should stop. 

There’s a possibility that they’ll be distant from you for a long time if you keep on insisting.

Consider what would happen if you were in such a situation. For example, you warn certain people you don’t like them to touch your face. Yet, they continue to do it.

It’s irritating, and they’ll put your patience to the test. At some point, it can get too much to handle. And you may get mad. 

#6: Stressful environment

Stressed Dog

One of the main reasons for a stressed dog? 

A stressful environment.

A study was conducted to see if dog parents can tell if their pooch is stressed.

Only half of the 1,190 people who participated managed to recognize stress in their dogs.

So how can you know for sure when it comes to your dog?

Look for a sudden change in your dog’s behavior. This can happen if their environment is stressful.

Does the no-touching behavior start to show when heavy rain is pouring? And possibly when there’s thunder?

Or when there are fireworks

Maybe whenever strangers are around?

For each dog, the stressors can vary. 

And your dog will have a hard time coping with stress. Touching their face can just add to their discomfort.  

Just like people, dogs have different ways to deal with stress. 

If they show you that they don’t want you touching them, then let them be. 

You may feel sad because your dog is ignoring you. But you shouldn’t take it personally.

Reading tip: 9 dangerous effects of fireworks on dogs

#7: Hand shyness in dogs

What do you do when you feel shy?

Most people either walk away or avoid something that makes them bashful. 

It could be the same for shy pooches who avoid face touching. 

Have you ever heard of hand shyness in dogs?

It’s a term used for a dog’s fear of hands. Any hands approaching their face will cause them to feel in distress.

Their fear of hands may develop due to the previous reasons I’ve listed. Such as PTSD or violence that’s been done by human hands. 

A dog who has hand shyness will:

  • Bark. 
  • Growl.
  • Startle.
  • Run away. 
  • Avoid hands. 
  • Duck their head. 

5 scenarios of dogs not liking being touched on the face

#1: My dog growls when I touch his face

A dog will growl if you touch its face as a defense mechanism. 

Especially dogs who’ve experienced a traumatic past. And touching their face might trigger their trauma.  

Touching your dog’s face may give them the impression that you’re about to hurt them.

A loud and angry growl may indicate that they’re reacting to a threat. 

If your dog growls when you touch their face then you should avoid doing so. 

The danger in this scenario is that dogs might bite you as an act of self-defense. 

#2: My dog cries when I touch his face

Your dog cries when you touch their face because of a wound. 

They could’ve gotten it accidentally. Another dog might’ve scratched them unintentionally during playtime. 


If you don’t take care of this, it might lead to an infection.

If the wound seems to be minor, you can treat this at home. Cleaning the wound with a saltwater solution can help. 

Here’s how to do a saltwater mixture:

  1. Mix 1 tsp of salt and 1 pint of warm water.
  2. Soak a clean cotton pad to the mixture.
  3. Wipe in an outward direction from your dog’s wound.

Warning: The first thing to do is clean the wound to prevent infection. If your dog doesn’t allow you or their cut is too deep, bring them to the vet.

#3: My dog yelps when I touch his face 

Dog Yelps When His Face Is Touched

Your pawed baby yelps when you touch their face because of a toothache.

This will be the case if your dog doesn’t want to put anything in its mouth. 

They don’t play with their chew toys and eat their favorite food anymore.

You’ll notice their teeth are discolored, and their breath smells bad.

Your dog’s gums will be red and swollen. They’ll bleed easily too.

Some of the most common causes of this include:

  • Cavities.
  • Tartar build-up.
  • A broken tooth.
  • Infected or swollen gums.

Warning: This toothache has the potential to cause your dog to have health issues. Examples of these are teeth loss, foul breath, oral infections, and systemic disorders. 

You see, a simple toothache can affect your dog’s way of living. If not taken care of right away. 

Vet dental says that 80% of dogs will have oral problems starting at the age of 3. 

So, it’s best to start taking care of your dog’s teeth during their early years. 

There are a few things you can do to prevent oral problems that a toothache may bring.

Brush your dog’s teeth daily

Start with preparing what you need. A dog appropriate toothpaste and a toothbrush.

There’s a variety of options when it comes to choosing your dog’s toothpaste. The market has organic and flavored toothpaste that your dog would love. 

There are chicken, peanut butter, beef, bacon, salmon, and a lot more flavors. You can try any of them and see what your pup would prefer. 

Warning: Never use human toothpaste when brushing your dog’s teeth. As it contains xylitol that’s toxic for dogs and can damage their liver. 

Now for your dog’s toothbrush, you can buy it in pet stores.

“What if my dog refuses to have a toothbrush in their mouth?”

Some dogs, particularly those who’re not used to their teeth being brushed, will be a handful. But relax, there’s a solution to this. 

You can use a finger brush. These have soft bristles attached to a rubber that you can put on your fingertips. 

When your dog’s already used to that you can try again using a standard dog toothbrush. 

Let’s now get into the method of brushing your dog’s teeth. Here’s how it works:

  1. Sit or kneel next to your dog.
  2. Rub your dog’s gums using your finger to make them used to the sensation.
  3. Put a pea-sized toothpaste on your finger and let your dog have a taste.
  4. If they seem to like it, you can continue with using a brush with the toothpaste on it. 
  5. Start brushing your dog’s upper teeth in a circular motion.
  6. Followed by brushing the lower and back teeth.
  7. Do this in two minutes. Also, don’t forget to give your dog praises for being calm as you do the task.

Note: Some dogs will refuse and show aggression. If that happens, you can stop for a while and try again later. 

Watch the things they bite

What causes fractured teeth in dogs is chewing on sharp and hard things. 

Sticks and stones, for example. 

They can have access to those while both of you are out for a walk. 

Aside from tooth fracture, stones can also block your dog’s throat. While sticks can cut their gums and mouth. 

So keep an eye on things your dog is biting into. To avoid serious problems from happening.

Giving appropriate chew toys 

Teething puppies and some dogs have a biting behavior. 

It’s best to give them appropriate chew toys to avoid oral problems. 

You can buy dental chews and toys for your dog. So they won’t have to bite on inappropriate objects. 

Dr. Gillette says that a Nylabone toy is safe for puppies. KONG chew toys are for any dog size and type of chewer.

Taking your dog to an annual oral cleaning and check-up

An annual oral check-up for dogs can help prevent potential oral problems in the future. 

What you’d expect to happen during dental check-ups are:

  • Dental cleaning.
  • Digital dental x-rays. 
  • Complete oral examination.

#4: My dog doesn’t want strangers to touch his face 

Some pooches just don’t like strangers touching their faces. 

It’s understandable when you think about it. 

You’ll also act defensively if people you don’t know show up out of nowhere. And then attempt a sudden physical connection. 

Warning: Don’t force your dog to accept strangers touching their face. If the dog is giving signs of discomfort, tell strangers to stop immediately. Otherwise, their actions could lead to an accident.  

Let’s say that your dog bites a stranger. You’ll then be liable for the financial consequences of your dog’s actions. Since the majority of states have “Strict liability dog-bite laws”.

But if you’d like your pooch to be okay with strangers touching the face, you can condition him. Teach him that strangers mean good things.

You can do that by giving a dog cookie every time a stranger comes by. After a while, if our dog seems to take it well, decrease the distance between him and the strangers.

It’s important that the stranger makes no harsh movements though. When at some point, the stranger touches your dog’s face, reward your dog.  

#5: My dog is aloof when I touch his face

It’s normal if an aloof dog doesn’t want its face being touched. 

It might sound odd that dogs are aloof because they’re known to be social species. 

Humans are also social beings but some people’re introverts. This is the same for our furry companions, there are introverts and extroverts. 

We are used to seeing extroverted dogs. Those who enjoy and love interactions. 

While on the other hand, the introverted dogs will appear distant because they’re fine being alone. However, they’ll still need your attention (not so often, though).

You won’t also see them playing with other dogs. They’ll prefer staying with you rather than with other people. 

Dog breeds that are known to be aloof dogs are:

  • Akita.
  • Basenji.
  • Chow Chow.
  • Afghan Hound.
  • Tibetan Mastiff.
  • Pharaoh Hound.

Such ones enjoy their independence and that doesn’t mean they love you less.

Maybe they just have their own unique way of showing their love for you. 

Some would still sleep in the same room with you. Although they might not sleep beside or near you. 

“I love you, human. Even with the space between us.”

This behavior is something that doesn’t need changing.

However, you must be sure that the cause of your dog’s no-touching behavior is really aloofness. And not because of serious health problems. 

If you’re unsure, it’s best to bring your pooch straight to the vet and have them checked.