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Why Does My Dog Put His Paw on His Face?

You probably have tons of pictures on your phone of your dog laying in cute positions, including them with their paws over the face. 

It’s usually a cute position. 

However, you might be curious to know more about why your dog chooses to cover or hide their face. 

You might also be curious to know why they do it so often and if it signals any sort of problem. 

Why Does My Dog Put His Paw on His Face?

Dogs will cover their face as a way to tell you how they are feeling. In most cases, it’s to scratch an itch or to show submission. There are some reasons why they might cover their face though that have more to do with fear or anxiety. 

We will discuss all the reasons why your dog might be covering their face as well as potential problems it might signal. 

Knowing your dog’s behavior and any problems with them is crucial to make sure they get the best care if they need it. 

Why Is My Dog Covering His Face?

There are many reasons why your dog might be covering their face.

Most are harmless and you don’t need to worry about it. 

Face covering in dogs is also just a normal way of communicating. 

Here are the most common reasons why your dog might be covering their face and what to do about it. 

Scratching an Itch

You might think your dog is hiding their face or just being silly, but they might actually be scratching an itch they have on their face. 

They will only use their front paws to scratch an itch on their face and around their eyes, so you will never see them using their back legs to scratch around their face. 

Your dog might also use their front paws to wipe eye gunk from their face or to get substances out of their fur. 

Usually, it’s just a small scratch or itch. 

However, if you see your dog constantly scratching their face, you might want to check for redness or discharge. 

Constantly itching could be a sign of an infection or something being wrong with the eye. 

Chronic rubbing can also be a sign of a health problem or a form of anxiety. 

If you have any concerns, always talk to the vet as you want to be sure your dog is healthy. 

Grooming

Although dogs don’t groom themselves to the extent like cats do and some other animals, your dog will still use their front paws to clean dirt and grime away from their eyes and nose.

They will also cover their face when they want to get eye dirt away from their eyes or to keep their face clean. 

Show Submission

Covering their face can also be a form of submission and deference to the pack leader, which is you in the case. 

However, you might also see them covering their face when they are around other dogs or other animals as a form of submission. 

You might also see them rolling over and showing you their belly when they want to show submissiveness. 

This is normal behavior and is no cause for concern. 

To Please You

Dogs know what kind of behavior please you and they want to make you happy. 

If you tell them they are cute and show lots of affection when they cover their face, they will know it’s a behavior you love and they might do it again to amuse you.

This might be especially true if they only do it when you are around and looking at them. 

Expressing Fear and Anxiety

If your dog is feeling scared or hiding, they might also cover their face to show they are scared. 

Of course, the dog knows their dog cannot actually hide their face with their paws, but they still do it as a sign of comfort. 

If you see your dog hiding somewhere and they are also covering its face, you might want to consider the fact that is scared or distressed somehow. 

If your dog shows this behavior, they could also be trying to communicate that they are stressed and having anxiety.

They will want you to know they are upset and need help. 

Stress sometimes in dogs is normal. 

If you see them covering their face constantly though and they also show other behaviors of stress, you might want to consider if they have anxiety or another medical problem that could make them feel scared often. 

If you aren’t sure or if you have any questions, take them to the vet and explain their behavior. 

The vet might also recommend for you get a behavioral therapist for them to help them through some of the anxiety that they might be feeling. 

Your dog can experience anxiety for many different reasons, much like humans. 

It might be something situational, for example, if you are gone from home a lot and your dog is left alone. 

They might also be more likely to have anxiety if they come from a rescue home or were abused by previous owners. 

Some dog breeds are more prone to anxiety even if you are home with them and give them everything they need to feel calm and not stressed. 

Should I Discourage My Dog from Hiding and Touching Their Face?

Face touching is not a negative behavior and should not be discouraged or punished. 

It’s a form of communication and punishing it might make them feel they can’t express themselves or be themselves around you. 

Paying attention to face touching can also let your dog know that you are watching them and taking care of them.

If your dog’s face touching is because of an infection or a medical problem, you might want to make sure they do not make the problem worse by constant touching and itching. 

Getting your dog to stop will be hard though since they are trying to soothe themselves. 

Make sure you take them to the vet right away and get them help before they make the infection worse. 

You also don’t want to punish them or discourage them as it will confuse them since they aren’t really acting in the wrong way. 

Instead of discouraging it, just ignore it. 

You can also try to distract your dog by giving them a toy or holding them, so they concentrate less on the pain or discomfort coming from the infection. 

Once the problem is treated, you should find the itching and touching goes away soon since your dog is no longer uncomfortable. 

Why Does My Dog Cover Their Face When Sleeping?

Dogs sleep in many different positions.

Your dog will probably also move around quite a bit during the night as they try to get comfortable and get to sleep. 

Most positions are not a cause for concern, and you will see that your dog will change their sleeping positions as they grow. 

The sleep position might also depend on where they are sleeping and the space, they have chosen to sleep in. 

You might see your dog sleeping on their back or their sides with their paws over their face or chest. 

This might look uncomfortable and weird to humans, but it’s a common sleep position for dogs that makes them feel safe and happy. 

If you find them sleeping in this position, they are often trying to protect themselves.

Try not to wake them up if they are feeling like this as they probably don’t want to be bothered and they want to continue resting. 

Your dog might also sleep like this if they are in too small of a space. 

If you find them sleeping like this in their crate, it might be because the crate is too small, and this is the only way they can put their body into a sleeping position. 

Final Thoughts

There are many reasons why your dog might be sleeping with its paws over its face or just putting its hands over its face at any time of the day. 

It’s usually because they are trying to be cute or trying to amuse you. It might also be because they are acknowledging you as the master and being submissive. 

However, the most common reason is that they are trying to groom or itch themselves. 

This usually isn’t a cause for concern unless they are doing it too much. 

It might also be an issue if you see them doing it with redness around their eyes or discharge. 

This can signal an infection. Always take the dog to the vet if you see any signs of infection. 

This will lessen the problems and make your dog more comfortable since they will not have their infection any longer.