Why Do Dogs Rub Against You?

Does your dog enjoy rubbing their whole face and body against you?

Chances are they are trying to tell you something.

Find out why your dog keeps rubbing against you, whether you should encourage the behavior, and what to do about it if you want them to stop.

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. We thank you for your support.
dogs rub against you

Why Dogs Rub Against You

Your dog rubs against you as a way to communicate their needs to you.

Here are some things they may be trying to tell you when they do this.

Territorial Behavior

Dogs have scent glands on their face, which they like to spread across the spot they want to claim. It could be your bed, their training pad, or you.

As naturally territorial creatures, dogs claim their space and let others know you are theirs by rubbing their face and body on you. 

This happens more often when you have other pets around the house or if you encounter a lot of other dogs in the neighborhood. 

Although this scent-marking behavior is typical among mammals, it can still go out of hand. Don’t let your dog’s territorial behavior turn into dog aggression

Socialize your dog with other dogs, so they don’t become jealous and insecure. 

Submissive Behavior

Dogs submit themselves to their owners in unique ways. Some walk in circles around their owners, while others will rub their whole face and body around you.

It means you’ve successfully asserted yourself as the leader of the pack. And your dog will become more obedient once they see you as one.

Submissive dogs usually rub against you when they feel scared or calm. That’s because they trust you and know that they will protect you.

Encourage this behavior to create a healthy and loving relationship with each other.

Communicating With You

Your dog might be trying to tell you something when they try to push their body and rub against you.

Do they want you to move from your seat? Perhaps your dog wants to tell you that they feel cold or want attention.

I know it seems weird, but try talking to them. Let your dog decipher your tone and facial expression. They will respond with the appropriate body language.

You’ll soon figure out what they want from you.

Skin Problem

Dogs might rub their body on you or other surfaces if their skin feels itchy. Always check your dog for allergies or itchy skin.

Excessive licking, hives, loss of fur, and irritated skin are some signs of canine skin allergies. These conditions can be caused by the environment or particular types of food.

Try changing your dog’s food to see what’s triggering an allergic response. Remember that even premium dog foods with healthy ingredients can cause allergic reactions.  

Learn some home remedies for your dog’s allergies and itchy skin.

Your dog might also develop ticks and fleas, which can cause dermatitis. The proteins in these parasites’ saliva will cause them to itch.

Talk to your vet about the appropriate medications for ticks and fleas. 

Your Dog Wants Attention From You

Your dog might rub their body against you because they want your attention. It can be challenging to tell what kind of attention they need.

Some only show this gesture when they want playtime with you. Others want food or need to go out to pee and poop.

Check if you’ve given your dog’s basic needs. If they haven’t been eating for a while, offer them a bowl of food and water. And if your dog hasn’t pooped this day yet, try taking them out.

It helps to establish a stable routine for your dog. That way, you don’t have to play a guessing game on why they’re rubbing their body against you. 

Dog showing affection

Showing Affection

Don’t be quick to look for a mistake in your dog’s behavior. They could be rubbing their face or body against you because they want to express their love for you.

Dogs show affection in different ways. Perhaps they are showing their belly because they want a belly rub.

Or they lean their head against you because they want a pat on the head and a “good dog.”

Some dogs are content with rubbing themselves against you. They are not asking for anything else because what they do is enough.

This is most likely the reason behind your dog’s behavior if they do it while you are sitting or lying down.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is common in dogs because they have been attached to their owners.

Many dogs deal with excessive stress when they are away from their owners because of over-dependence. 

Some show destructive behavior, drool, and make noises while you are not around.

Once you arrive, your dog might rub their whole body against you to mark their scent on you. Then, they will follow you everywhere you go.

Find out how to help a dog with separation anxiety. You can try short-term solutions like leaving a blanket with your scent while you’re not home or long-term solutions like training.

You can also consult your vet for treatments for severe separation anxiety syndrome. 

You Have Cats Around the House

As pack animals, dogs tend to mimic other household pets. This is especially true if you have cats at home. 

Do you notice how cats like to rub against your body, hop on high surfaces, and enclose themselves in narrow spaces? 

Your dog will do everything these creatures do, especially if they have a tight friendship. So don’t be surprised when they suddenly lean their back on you and rub themselves like your feline friends.

This behavior is entirely normal. You don’t need to train your furry friend to stop copying your cat’s every move unless it’s turning into destructive behavior. 

Should You Tolerate This Behavior?

It’s up to you whether you want to tolerate your dog’s random behavior. Most of the time, rubbing their body against you is normal and harmless behavior.

But if it’s been bothering you or becomes excessive, you can stop your dog from rubbing against you. Some dogs develop aggression from being possessive of you.

They excessively mark their scent on you to assert dominance over you and other dogs. You might even catch them getting angry whenever someone tries to approach you.

Once this situation happens, you should know it’s time to discourage their rubbing habit.

How to Stop Your Dog from Rubbing Against You

There are two ways to discourage your dog from rubbing against you.

Give Your Dog What They Need

If your dog rubs against you because they want food, only feed them if they need food. Check if you missed your dog’s feeding schedule so you can attend to their needs.

However, if your dog asks for food, even if you just fed them, do not respond. Otherwise, you will unintentionally reward your dog’s bad behavior.

If they want to go outside, let them out. If they want to play, play with them. 

Giving your dog what they want will stop them rubbing against you if they are doing it to communicate their needs.

Teach the “Stop” Command

Dogs should know the “no!” or “stop!” command so you can quickly manage their behavior. 

If your dog is rubbing against you in an excessive or compulsive way, then ignore your dog every time they do it. Turn your back away from them, then say, “stop!”

Give your dog a reward, such as a treat or verbal praise, when they obey.

Why Do Dogs Push Against You?

Dogs may push against you because they are happy. They want to play with you or need belly rubs.

It’s a harmless gesture among pack animals. Others push against you as a way to ask for food or ask to go out and pee.

Some dogs push against you when they are expressing fear in stressful situations. This is most likely the reason when they only do it during thunderstorms and other triggering events.

There are many possible reasons behind your dog’s pushing behavior. Find out why your dog is pushing against you

Why Do Dogs Sleep Upside Down?

Dogs sleep upside down because it simply makes them feel comfortable in this position.

They can exchange heat using their paws when they feel too hot. They also expose their bellies out in the open to let the cool air in their system.

Dogs have different sleeping positions that can show how they’re feeling. Find out what it means when your dog sleeps upside down.

Why Does My Dog Want Me to Hold Their Paw?

The most common reason your dog wants you to hold its paw is that they need something from you. It’s a harmless behavior they do to communicate what they need,

Try recalling what else was happening when your dog started asking you to hold their paws. 

If it was before dinnertime, it might be because they wanted to be fed. But if there was a thunderstorm, maybe your dog needed you to comfort them.

Learn some other reasons your dog wants you to hold their paw

Dogs Communicate in Random Ways

Because our dogs cannot speak, they try to talk to us through their body language. One way is by rubbing their body against you.

They rub themselves on you to show submission, possessiveness, affection, or a health problem. 

Evaluate their body language and the current situation so you can get a clue on why your dog is rubbing itself against you.

Another random behavior dogs have is when your dog wants to put their paw on you.