Why Do Dogs Cover Their Nose?

This site is reader-supported and we earn commissions if you purchase products from retailers after clicking on a link from our site. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Dogs use their paws to communicate with their owners. Sometimes, they hold them up to get your attention. Other times, they use their paws to cover their nose.

Dogs cover their nose out of harmless habit or due to an underlying medical condition. But how can you tell the difference?

Let’s explore the many reasons your dog covers their nose. You’ll also discover whether to encourage the behavior and when it’s time to take them to the vet. 

dog covers nose

Why Do Dogs Cover Their Nose?

Your dog could be covering their nose for a number of different reasons.

Fear or Anxiety

Some dogs cover their nose in situations that make them feel scared or anxious. You’ll catch them hiding their whole face during fireworks, thunderstorms, or when other people are around. 

Expressing fear and anxiety is normal among our furry friends. They understand that covering their nose won’t protect them from the threat.

But they could only be doing it to communicate how they’re feeling to you. Or they do it to comfort themselves.

Other dogs burrow under the blankets when they feel scared. You might also find your dog howling, drooling, or hiding in another room when they feel anxious. 

Try removing the source of fear when your dog starts covering their nose. Then, comfort and reassure your dog that they are safe. 

Find out how to help a fearful dog through proper training and socialization. These methods can help prevent long-term anxiety, especially among dogs with trauma from past experiences.

Grooming

Dogs enjoy self-grooming to keep themselves comfortable. If you find your dog covering their nose after drinking water, they could be wiping the liquid off their face.

Your dog’s paws are an essential tool for cleaning up. You will also catch your dog swiping around their eyes to remove a goop because it feels irritating.

Your dog’s tongue is also helpful for canine self-grooming. They will lick their limbs, the area around their mouth, and their bellies to remove discomfort. 

This does not mean dogs don’t need your help with grooming. Use a clean cloth when wiping their face instead of letting their sharp claws get into their face.

To Please You

With the right mix of positive reinforcement and loyalty to their owners, dogs can master how to please you. 

Every time they receive an “aww” or belly rub for covering their nose, they learn that they need to keep doing it to get the reward of your attention. Dogs learn what we find cute through these unintentional rewards.

Your furry friend also loves making their owners happy. As perceptive animals, they repeat this behavior knowing that it amuses you. 

Dogs will do everything to show their love for their owners. Social animals like dogs enjoy developing a bond with humans so they can protect each other and receive their basic survival needs.

Learn the other ways dogs show affection to their owners

To Scratch an Itch

Another possible reason your dog is covering their nose is that they are simply rubbing an itch. Perhaps a feather or dust has entered their nose, and it makes them feel comfortable.

Dogs use their paws to relieve any itch on their body. Some are even smart enough to remove eye gunk or other particles on their face.

While scratching an itch seems like an act of independence, you can help your dog relieve their irritation. Also check their nose and eyes for redness, discharge, or infection.

If you see any sign of irritation stop your dog from rubbing their face to avoid wounds and infections. Wipe any discharge or gunk from their face.

Take them to the veterinarian if you notice any issues. Your vet will provide the necessary medication to stop your dog from itching. 

To Show Submission

Some dogs show deference to their pack leader by covering their noses or whole face. It’s similar to avoiding eye contact to show that they are not a threat to the alpha.

A dog who knows how to submit is loyal and obedient. They gained this trait from their wolf ancestors, who survived in packs with the leadership of an alpha male.

A submissive dog trusts that you will care for them and give each other mutual protection. Keep strengthening this dynamic through training, socialization, and sticking to a routine. 

Dogs also show submission by rolling onto their side, exposing their abdomen, and lowering their tails. 

Dog Acne

Dog acne is a condition where they develop small bumps on their mouth and chin. Acne is more common among wrinkled dogs like Shar Peis and Bulldogs because it’s easier for dirt to get trapped in their skin rolls.

Make sure you’re cleaning your dog’s face every time they bathe. It would help if you also wiped their face regularly with antiseptic wipes to remove bacteria from their skin.

Wiping is vital, especially after eating greasy food or playing in the mud. Make sure to keep their face dry to hinder bacteria from thriving in the moist area.

If the situation doesn’t improve, consult your vet for the proper medication. They will help stop your dog’s swollen lips, bleeding wounds, and scabs on their faces. 

Sleeping

Does your dog might also cover their nose or face when sleeping? It’s their way of saying, “I’m comfortable. Please do not disturb me.” 

There’s no need to worry about your dog hiding behind its paws when they are dozing off. All you have to do is give them the privacy they need to get some sleep.

Keep your dog cozy when sleeping by giving them a blanket. Perhaps they want you to block out the light and provide them with a pillow for comfort. 

Some dogs rub their noses while dreaming. Do not wake them up because it could cause aggressive behavior. 

Allergies

Allergies on your dog’s skin differ from canine acne since allergies are itchier and caused by allergens rather than bacteria. 

Some signs of dog allergy include rubbing their eyes a lot, sneezing more often, and rubbing their nose. You’ll also find your dog with a wet nose, causing them to cover it using their paws.

You need to check your dog’s skin for redness and irritation. A more severe symptom of an allergic reaction is an ear infection, which can also look like they are covering their face.

Some allergies are seasonal and caused by pollen. Others occur all year round. 

Take your dog to the vet so you can be guided on how to deal with dog allergies.

Should I Let My Dog Cover Their Nose?

Nose covering is not a negative behavior among dogs. You don’t need to stop them from doing this behavior, unless your dog is hurting themselves.

Talk to your vet if your dog covers their noses with paws due to itching or pain. They will diagnose your pooch appropriately and prescribe the proper medication.

If your dog covers their face due to anxiety, try training them to be more secure and confident. 

But if your dog is only covering their nose when they are sleeping or showing affection, there’s no need to give them the “stop” command.

Dogs use their paws to communicate. So pay attention to what they are trying to tell you. 

You don’t have to reward your dog every time they do it. Otherwise, your dog will keep doing it while expecting a treat or a belly rub.

Why Do Dogs Push Against You?

The most common reason your pooch pushes against you is that they feel safer with you. This is most likely the reason if they do it before sleeping. 

Some dogs even fall asleep leaning on your legs while sitting down. 

Another possible reason they push against you is that they want you to move. Dogs want to stay where you’re sitting because it’s their comfiest spot.

Others ask you to move when they sense a threat.

Learn why your dog pushes against you and whether you should encourage the behavior or not. 

Why Do Dogs Curl Their Paws?

Dogs curl their paws for many reasons, such as the cold temperature or anxiety. Or they might have curled paws because of a knuckling disorder. 

If your dog has cold ears and they are moving slowly, their curled paws are likely due to the low temperature. This is their way of regulating their body temperature.

Your furry friend might also curl their paw when a thunderstorm, fireworks, or other environmental situations trigger their anxiety.

Find out the other possible reasons your dog could be curling their paws. Then, take them to the vet if you notice signs of knuckling disorder. 

Dogs Use Their Paws for Everything

Dogs cover their noses using their paws because they want to show submission, scratch themselves, or express fear. 

It’s a normal behavior unless you spot acne, an allergy, or an infection. In this situation, you should seek the help of your vet for treatment. 

Another peculiar thing your dog might have is when they hug your leg. Find out why your dog hugs your leg and what you should do about it.