Seeing your dog boop their nose into anything is cute.
But what’s the meaning of this?
Is your pooch trying to tell you something?
In this article, you’ll discover:
- Why your dog nudges their food.
- 7 specific scenarios of dogs who use their nose to nudge.
- 11 cute reasons why your dog nudges things with his nose.
- And much much more…
Table of contents
Why does my dog nudge things with his nose?
Your dog nudges things with their nose because it’s their way of making friends, getting attention, greeting, comforting, reminding, requesting, herding or showing affection. They could be reacting to something you’ve said. Or it’s their way to show they want to hide or be alone.
11 reasons why your dog nudges things with his nose
#1: Your pooch is making friends
“I wanna be your friend!”
Friendly pooches will nudge other dogs and people to befriend them.
Your Fido may be the type of dog who loves playing with others. They’ll mostly nudge with their nose if they see unfamiliar faces.
Booping their nose is like a dog’s version of our human handshakes. It shows you mean well when meeting someone for the first time.
But there’s more to nudging. Your dog will be able to avoid intimidation and fights with other dogs by doing this.
It’s the respectful thing to do to someone you just met.
#2: A form of greeting
“Welcome home, Mom/Dad.”
Pooches communicate by nudging with their nose.
Let’s say you’ve been out for a while. And you left them alone at home.
One of their awesome ways to greet you is by welcoming you with a nose nudge.
Kind of like the equivalent of a human hug or kiss. After you haven’t seen your loved one all day. It’s a pure act of love and joy.
#3: Herding behavior
Some dogs who nudge with their nose do it because of their herding behavior.
So they may push people or other animals using their noses to bring them into a group. Herding is their way to keep their family intact. They do it so they can protect their human pack.
Breeds that belong to herding groups are:
- Rough Collie.
- Bearded Collie.
- German Shepherd.
- Australian Shepherd.
- Australian Cattle Dog.
- Cardigan Welsh Corgi.
- Old English Sheepdog.
- Bernese Mountain Dog.
Note: Herding dog breeds should be kept active due to their high activity level and intellect.
#4: Seeking attention
Have you spent quality time with your canine companion?
Some dogs nudge their humans with their noses to show they want attention.
For example, we sometimes have hectic days. Dogs, on the other hand, don’t understand this.
They’ll wonder why their people aren’t paying attention to them like they used to.
Which makes your pooch hungry for your attention.
Just a head’s up! Your dog might do this again if you respond to those nose nudges with attention.
They’ll figure out that nudging their nose at you works. So they’ll start using it more often.
#5: Reacting to you
We, dog parents, often talk to our pooches.
We converse with them as if they can answer us verbally. Even though they can’t, they can still react to what we’re saying.
And if they understand the words they mostly get excited. They show it through nose nudging.
Research suggests that dog direct speech makes them understand people better. It’s similar to baby talks that are used when talking to an infant.
“Come here, cutie.”
“You’re a good boy!”
Trivia: Did you know that dogs can understand 160 words on average?
A smart Border Collie from Germany named Rico holds the record of understanding more than 200 words.
Scientists mention that Rico can even understand words that he only heard once. And he still remembers 4 weeks after hearing those words.
#6: Comforting you
“It’s okay. I got you, hooman.”
Dogs can sense if their human is feeling blue.
And they don’t want you to feel this way. So they’ll take action to make you feel better.
Nudging their nose at you is their way of comforting you.
“But how do they know they should cheer us up when we’re sad?”
You wonder because you never taught your dog to console people.
Research shows that a dog’s behavior response to their dog parent’s emotion is a learned behavior.
Maybe the act of nose nudging cheered you up before.
They’ll also nudge things that made you happy to give them to you.
Your dog thinks that doing those will make you happy and they’re helping their human.
#7: Wants something from you
Can you tell what your dog wants?
Dogs who nudge their nose at things might be telling you they want something.
They’ll push things towards you to show that they want it.
For example, your pooch is nudging their feeder to you. It’s a request for food.
While nudging your hand can be a request for attention. So, your dog may want you to pet them. Maybe scratch their ears. Or get belly rubs from you.
While nudging a toy is a request to play with them.
My dog Lissa does this a lot! She takes her favorite toy in her mouth. Then brings it to me in bed. And starts nudging it with her nose towards me.
Another thing she’d do is nudge my hand when she’d like us to play tug of war. A smart cookie she is. 🙂
#8: Showing you affection
Dogs are lovable and affectionate beings.
They’re sweet and clingy at times.
So, a pooch who loves you and nudges their nose could be their way of showing affection.
They could’ve learned this from their mothers. As puppies nudge to seek comfort and affection from their mothers.
So, when they’re older, they’ll do it as well to their dog parents.
Pooches will do it with a soft nudge and a puppy stare. Sometimes it’ll be followed by rubbing their head against you.
#9: Reminding you
Are you forgetting something?
Dogs are mindful of their routines. They love predictability. It keeps them happy.
And failing to do their routine will make them feel anxious.
We, dog parents, may lose track of time if we’re having a busy day.
Pooches who’re aware of what they should do will nudge their nose at you.
A reminder that it’s time to do a certain part of their routine.
It’s like having an alarm clock disguised as a dog.
#10: Wants to hide/escape
Does your dog’s nose nudging seem to be pushing you away?
According to Malcolm Weir, pooches who’re in distress may nudge their dog parents.
It might be because they want to escape or hide while coping with their stress.
Dogs that wish to escape or hide due to stress might also:
- Circle around.
- Hide behind the tree or under a car.
#11: Wants to be alone
Although dogs are sociable beings they may also crave some personal time.
Fido’s nose nudging can mean that they want to be alone. Or you have to keep your distance.
Well, this doesn’t happen often. But there are times that dog parents get really clingy.
Excessive hugs and kisses will sometimes annoy dogs. It depends on the dog’s mood. Plus, they may feel that their personal space is being invaded.
As a result, they’ll nudge you with their nose. A bit hard. Some dogs might also show their teeth and will bark at you if you continue.
7 scenarios of dogs nudging things
#1: Dog nudges baby with nose
Having a new family member can cause your dog to behave unusually.
Due to unfamiliarity, they can nudge the baby with their nose.
I understand that seeing a dog nudge a baby may worry you.
However, you should avoid pushing your dog away.
Because if you do, it’ll only make your dog more eager to get close. Let your dog check your baby instead. Monitor them and don’t leave the 2 unsupervised.
But only let your pooch get close if their body posture looks relaxed. Signs of happiness in dogs are a wagging tail, ears down and a soft gaze.
They’ll get used to the baby’s presence in time. And will eventually stop nose nudging the baby.
Another reason why your dog would boop their baby’s nose is out of respect.
This happens if they see the baby as their family.
They’re maybe picking up the baby’s scent as a new part of their pack.
#2: Dog nudges hand with nose
Your dog nudging your hand with their nose is a sign of communication.
They’ve observed that you’ll give them what they want and need.
Nudging your hand could mean that your dog’s hungry for attention.
Or literally hungry. Maybe they want to play with you.
They might also ask for petting. Or asking you to walk them
It all depends on the situation. You have to look for additional signs.
#3: Dog nudges cat with nose
Some dog parents are also cat parents.
Playful dogs who nudge their nose to cats might look alarming.
Should you stop this?
Okay, cartoons and movies created this concept that cats and dogs are mortal enemies. I mean, look at Tom and Jerry.
But you can tell that this isn’t always the case in real life.
This Youtube video is proof of that:
Dogs nudging their nose to a cat may mean initiation of playtime. They could only want some quality time with their cat sibling.
An example based on personal experience
My small dog, Lissa, has a cat friend in our neighborhood.
It’s a black and white cat whom the whole neighborhood takes care of. All the love and care this cat receives made it a very sociable creature.
Whenever we would pass the place where the kitty hangs out, Lissa would run-up to the cat. And would shuff her nose in the cat’s butt. Then, she’d nudge the cat from the front too.
Although this is not something most cats would understand, Lissa means well. It’s a gesture of love and curiosity. Sometimes even an invite to play.
If your dog and cat grew up together then they’ll be along just fine. However, you should watch for a sudden change in behavior.
Such as harsh nudging, tensed posture, and barking. You must separate the two as soon as this happens.
Warning: Don’t let your dog nudge a cat with its nose if you’re unsure of how the cat would react. Some cats might scratch your dog in an act of self-defense. If they scratch the eye of the dog, it can lead to a corneal ulcer. Which may lead to blindness in time.
#4: Dog nudges other dogs with nose
Dogs nudging other dogs with their nose is their way to socialize.
The interpretation of this move depends on how they nudge.
A dog that nudges in a harsh way with a bark could mean that they’re being unfriendly.
Since there’ll be dogs that are not so friendly and have poor social skills.
While dogs who nudge playfully with a relaxed body posture could mean greeting. They’re being friendly and do this to ask other dogs for a play.
It’s a disaster if these two dogs meet. The unfriendly and the playful one.
It will cause conflict because playful dogs will insist on playtime. Particularly the hyperactive dogs.
While it’ll be irritating for unfriendly dogs. And the interaction could easily escalate to a fight.
What you should do is be alert and observant of your dog’s body posture and way of nudging.
Watch as well how the other dog reacts to your dog’s nudge.
If they’re both being playful then you can let them be. They just want to gain friends and have fun anyway.
But if you sense a sign of aggression then remove your dog from the situation right away.
#5: Dog nudges puppy with nose
A puppy joins your family as a new member.
But the older pooch seems to nudge their nose at them.
Your worry is about the puppy getting hurt.
Well, this is something that you shouldn’t be bothered by unless your adult dog has behavioral issues.
Plus, be aware that puppies have protection. You can view it as a ‘puppy license’. Adult dogs are aware that a pup is just a kiddo who doesn’t know better yet.
So, if the adult dog doesn’t like something in the behavior of the pup, they’re likely to correct it. But gently, without hurting the dog kiddo.
Plus, older dogs are usually curious when a new pup comes around.
They’ll stop nudging as soon as they get used to the presence of the puppy.
Monitor how and how often your dog nudges the puppy.
You can let your older dog nudge the puppy. As long as nudging only happens for some time and appears to be gentle.
And move your dog away from the puppy if their posture starts to stiffen. Their ears and tails are up, hairs are rising and their nose wrinkles. They may attack the puppy.
#6: Dog nudges food (treats) with nose
Dogs nudging their food with their nose can mean several things.
Saving it for later
Some dogs will get full in the middle of eating their meal. Or they’re just not that hungry at the moment. In either case, they’ll conserve their food.
Nudging their food might be a way to say that “I’ll eat that later when I’m hungry again.”
My friend’s Labrador, Chewy, is a big eater but doesn’t always finish his dinner.
His fur parents observed why he did this.
They found out that Chewy eats the rest of his food during midnight.
What a smart move!
Chewy knows that his dog parents won’t be able to give him food when his hunger strikes at midnight. Because they’re sleeping.
So, he saves some of his dinner for later.
Dogs who’ve been introduced to a new food or treat will be curious. They’ll investigate the new food that’s been served to them. With their nose. Particularly if you have a sniffer type of dog.
Sniffer dogs are trained to detect certain substances using their intense smelling ability.
Dogs who belong to the sniffer group are:
- Border Collie.
- Belgian Malinois.
- Czech Shepherd.
- Labrador Retriever.
- German Shepherd.
- German Shorthaired Pointer.
So, maybe your dog is making sure that their food is safe. And doesn’t contain anything they don’t like.
This doesn’t cause any problem so you can just let them check on their food.
Loss of appetite
Dogs who nudge their food or bowl could be a sign that they don’t want to eat.
A sudden loss of appetite is a common sign of sickness in dogs.
Watch your dog’s behavior for a day or two. If in that period they don’t eat anything, take them to the veterinary clinic.
Nudging the food can also be a sign of a picky eater.
Your dog could be doing this to show you that they don’t like what you’ve given them.
It’s a way of communicating that you should give them something else.
Try giving your dog different types of food.
#7: Dog nudges blanket with nose
Dogs who nudge the blanket may do it for 2 main reasons.
They like how it feels and smells. Plus, they want to burrow.
Soft blankets will be best to cover their body during cold seasons. It’ll keep them warm and cozy.
If your dog likes to nudge your blanket it’s because they smell your scent on it. After all, dogs love to smell their humans.
It makes them feel safe and connected to their dog parents more. Even when their dog parents are away. This helps your dog cope with separation anxiety.
That’s why you should either leave a cloth or a blanket when you go out. Your dog could benefit from it more than you know.
Nudging the blanket is also a way to move it. They may want to transfer it somewhere nice. And use it to prepare their own sleeping spot preference.