Why do dogs bury their heads?


Dogs are cute, cuddly creatures. They’re also loyal and obedient. However, sometimes they can be a little weird! Especially when they bury their heads.

Sometimes they bury their heads on the ground, and other times they bury their heads into us! It’s a strange thing to see. If your dog is doing this and you’re wondering why keep reading.

Why do dogs bury their heads?

There are 3 reasons and ways a dog might bury his head.

  • Burying head on the floor and placing a paw over his face is a sign of embarrassment
  • Burying head into you is a sign of wanting comfort
  • Burying his head into furniture w/ digging is an instinct dogs experience when they want to hide food (like a bone)

Reasons Dogs Bury Their Heads

Dogs bury their heads for a few reasons. Sometimes it’s to hide embarrassment or guilt. Other times it can be a sign of submission. It can also be something your dog does to get attention from you. In this case, they bury their heads into you and not on the floor.

Lot’s of reasons why dogs bury their heads. Let’s explore some of them!

First, is your dog doing this? Let us know in the comments section and describe what he does and why he does it! 🙂

Reason #1 Embarrassment

Dogs can get embarrassed just like humans can. They can get embarrassed by the way we treat them and speak to them. They can also feel embarrassed when they get caught doing something wrong (which is also related to guilt and shame).

When dogs are stared at or looked at and laughed at, they can feel embarrassment. It’s true. They feel emotions just like us.

For example, suppose you have a group of friends in your house. Your dog comes down and does something cute or funny that causes the group to burst into laughter. Many dogs will become embarrassed in a situation like this. Not all dogs, but enough.

When dogs are embarrassed, they are uncomfortable. Burying their heads is a way for them to escape.

Reason #2 Trying to bury his food or bone

Dogs that wipe their face and nose on the ground repeatedly are often trying to hide their food. I know it doesn’t make sense to us, but dogs are wired to bury (and hide) food for future use.

Dogs are pack animals. In the wild, they live in a community. If a dog came across a bone or some food, he would often bury it to cover up its scent. This was to prevent other dogs in his pack (and other wild animals) from finding it.

Dogs are smart. They love to bury their bones. You can see the pleasure on their faces when they have something that belongs to them.

Dogs can dig in the floor or furniture and bury their faces as if they were hiding a bone. My dog used to do this on our couch. He would dig, bury his head, and burrow until he was able to safely tuck away his bone for future use.

I’m not sure who he was hiding it from, maybe the cat, but he sure did like to do this.

Reason #3 Shame & guilt

Feelings of shame and Guilt are connected to each other. They’re also connected to embarrassment but can be experienced differently.

When a dog misbehaves, it may bury its head in shame. If your dog does something, like chew up a wallet, and he knows that he’s misbehaved, he might bury his head when you come home, and he sees your reaction.

He’s burying his head, in this case, because he doesn’t like what he’s feeling, and he sees your reaction (which would be negative). He’s hiding in shame when he does this, especially if he puts his paws over his head.

Dogs are social and emotional creatures. They can be taught right from wrong, but sometimes their instincts and emotions get the best of them. If your dog is feeling guilty, you can sometimes see it by the expression he makes on his face.

Dogs will often bury their heads and place their paws over their face as if to hide from the reaction of their owners.

Reason #4 Wants Comfort

If you’re lying on the sofa with your dog and he buries his nose and head into you, it’s a sign that he’s trying to get comfortable. The feeling of being close to you makes him feel safe and comfortable.

Dogs love their owners, so it’s no surprise they’d want to do this.

Reason #5 Wants Attention

Sometimes dogs will bury their head and paws when they want attention. They know it looks cute. Haha.

If you give your dog attention every time he buries his head and places his paw over it, then he may have learned that doing that gets him attention.

Dogs pick up on things like this. They learn things we sometimes don’t even mean to teach them.

If your dog is burying his head into your hands, then it’s a sign he wants you to pet him and touch him. This is considered bad behavior by many people. If your dog does this, break the cycle by not petting him or giving him attention.

Reason #6 Fear

Fear is another uncomfortable emotion your dog experiences. You may be able to tell when your dog is afraid because he runs to you for protection. He may bury his head in your lap or arms in order to hide from whatever it is that he’s afraid of.

Dogs who are terrified of thunder do this sometimes. Or If your dog is afraid of a stranger, he might bury his head in your lap and cry out softly. He’s doing this because he feels secure with you.

Reason #7 Trying to hide

In many cases where a dog buries his head into his paws, there is something uncomfortable he’s experiencing. We’ve already talked about how it can happen from embarrassment, fear, guilt, and shame, but it can also happen in uncomfortable situations.

Suppose your dog hates getting into the car and going on car rides. Maybe it’s because every time he gets in the car, you take him to the vet or a groomer, and he hates the experience.

In this case, your dog just does not want to go with you. It’s probably tied to fear or another uncomfortable emotion. The dog might bury his head as if to hide from you.

He might not understand that you can see him, but he sure can’t see you, and that’s all he is thinking about when he does this!

When you were a kid, or maybe even now as an adult, did you ever wear sunglasses because they made you feel safe? Maybe they helped conceal embarrassment or made it easier in an uncomfortable situation.

Many kids do this. I know I did as a kid. It’s like the sunglasses darken our eyesight, and even though people can still see us, somehow, it makes it easier the less we see them (in awkward situations);. Your dog putting his paw over his face is similar to this. When he can’t see you or the uncomfortable situation he’s in, it makes him feel better! 🙃

Reason #8 He has an itch

If your dog is burying his head on the floor or into furniture, then it could be he has an itch and is trying to scratch it! If he’s doing it excessively then, he could have an eye infection. If it looks red or has strange buildup, cleaning around his eye or taking him to the vet for a checkup may be in order.

Related Questions

Why does My dog bury his head when I pet him?

If your dog is burying his head into you, then it means he likes you touching him and feels safe with you. If he is burying his head on the floor and pulling away from you, it could mean he is afraid of you, or there is something else going on that you’re not aware of.

Why does my dog bury his head in my legs?

If your dog buries his head in your legs, it’s because he is after comfort, security, or attention. It makes him feel good and releases chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin when he’s touching you, the feel-good chemicals related to bonding in both dogs and humans.

Why does my dog bury his head on the couch?

He’s burning his head on the couch either to get comfortable or to hide a bone or toy. Dogs are wired to hide and save their food for later. This is because they lived in the wild and had to protect it from other animals. If he is burying his head into you, he feels safe with you and is getting comfortable.

Why do dogs bury their heads in pillows

  1. If the dog is burying his head in a pillow before he takes a nap, then he’s just getting comfortable.
  2. If he is burying his head and is digging, he’s trying to hide a toy or bone
  3. If he’s burying his head, he might have an itch

Why does my dog hide his face?

Dogs hide their faces when they are experiencing a negative emotion and trying to hide from the experience. Dogs hide their face from embarrassment, fear, shame, guilt, and uncomfortable situations. They also might know it’s cute and want attention.

Why does my dog bury his head in my armpit?

If your dog is burying his head in your armpit, then he either wants to feel safe, likes the way you smell, or both. If you have a strong bond, he might just like your armpits because he can smell more of you that way. They like to be touched and cuddle.

Why does my dog bury his head in me when he sleeps?

Your dog does this because he wants to feel comfortable, safe, and secure. They did this in the wild when they slept in packs together inside of dens. They would snuggle up close for comfort, to stay warm, and it made them feel secure being with their pack.

Final Thoughts

Well, hopefully, this post has opened your eyes and helped you understand why dogs bury their heads.

Does your dog bury his head? If he does, we’d love to hear about it! Let us know in the comments down below!

Andrew

I am a dog trainer and passionate about canine health and behavior problems. I train dogs of all ages but specialize in training dogs with behavioral issues such as aggression or anxiety. My favorite part of my job is watching the transformation that takes place when an owner starts to understand their pet’s needs and how to meet them.

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