Stavros the dog lying down Stavros the dog lying down

Why Do Dogs Rub Their Face?

Read time: 3 mins

04 Oct 2023

In the world of dogs, face-rubbing is a delightful and expressive behaviour. It's a way for our furry friends to communicate love, affection, and comfort. While it's generally harmless, it's essential to pay attention to any changes in your dog's behaviour, especially if they start rubbing their face excessively.

What Does It Mean When Dogs Rub Their Face?

You've probably seen your pup rubbing their face against various objects, your leg, or even the floor. But what's the message behind this adorable behaviour?

Sign of affection

Dogs are known for their affectionate nature, and when they rub their faces against you, it's often a sign of love and attachment. They're marking you with their scent, essentially saying, "You're part of my pack, and I adore you!"

Sensory stimulation

Dogs have sensitive noses, and rubbing their faces against things can provide sensory stimulation. It's like exploring the world through scent. So, if your dog encounters a new smell or texture, expect some face-rubbing action.

Scratch that itch

Sometimes, face-rubbing is a straightforward solution to an itchy face or ear. Just like we scratch an itch, dogs use this method to relieve discomfort.

Why Does My Dog Rub His Face On Me?

If your dog rubs their face against you, consider it a great compliment. They're not just doing it randomly; there are specific reasons behind this behaviour.

Bonding and ownership

Your dog sees you as family, and rubbing their face on you is a way of marking you with their scent. It's their way of saying, "You belong to me, and I belong to you."

Comfort and trust

Dogs feel safe and secure with their owners. By rubbing their face on you, they're seeking comfort and reassurance. It's their way of saying, "I trust you completely."


Dogs are social animals, and sometimes they rub their faces on you to get your attention. It's their way of saying, "Hey, pay attention to me!"

Can Dogs Cause Harm By Rubbing Their Face?

Now, you might be wondering if there are any potential risks associated with this behaviour. Rest assured, in most cases, face-rubbing is harmless. However, there are some situations where it's essential to monitor your dog's actions.

Skin irritation

Excessive face-rubbing can lead to skin irritation or even abrasions. If you notice your dog rubbing their face excessively, it's worth examining their skin for any signs of redness or discomfort.


If your dog rubs their face too aggressively, it can cause really nasty eye infections. This is particularly dangerous for brachycephalic (flat faced) dog breeds, such as Pugs and Shih Tzu’s, due to their naturally bulging eyes.

Foreign objects

Dogs are curious creatures and can sometimes get foreign objects, like grass seeds, stuck in their ears or nose if they are rubbing their face whilst outside. Take extra caution if they do this on walks.