You’re sitting on your couch watching TV and talking to some friends. All of a sudden, you get a wet nose nudging your hand. You happily pet your dog and tell your friends how great he is.
You’re lying in bed before the alarm goes off, and Scruffy jumps up and rubs his nose on your face. You might even get some kisses, too.
You’re at the dining room table eating dinner with your family, and you feel that same wet nose on your leg. This could be his love for you, or possibly his love for food? But really, does it matter?
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The Root of the Behavior
Dogs show their human friends love in many ways and nuzzling up to you is just one of them. Your dog might nudge your hand to be pet, put his head on your lap, snuggle on your chest, nuzzle his little face next to yours, or join you in bed and nuzzle his way in between you and your mate. This is your four-legged best friend telling you he loves you.
Some dog breeds are more affectionate than others and will make great snuggle buddies. If you’re looking for gentle, affectionate friends, consider a Labrador Retriever, Maltese, Golden Retriever, English Toy Spaniel, Bulldog, Belgian Sheepdog, or Collie. These dogs tend to be loyal, good for families, and they might sit on your lap, even if they’re too big.
Other dog breeds tend to be more independent and require less attention and affection. If you’re a busy person, these are the breeds to consider. These breeds include American Foxhound, Basenji, Afghan Hound, Irish Wolfhound, Chow Chow, and Cairn Terrier.
Your dog nuzzling against you might also mean your dog is marking you. Dogs and other animals have scent glands on their face and when they rub against you, they’re leaving their scent on you. This marks you as their territory, which means he really likes you.
Dogs will also use their nose to sniff you out, especially on first meeting. If your dog decides you’re worthy of their love, you’ll get a nudge or nuzzle. He also could be asking for attention or have an itch. When you’re talking with your friends at that party, he just wants some of that attention, too.
And one of the most famous dog tricks, the nuzzle at the dinner table. Sure, your dog might be tricking you into thinking he wants to show you love, but this also has the potential to be a ruse to get you to give him some steak.
Encouraging the Behavior
Just like you don’t like to be shot down when showing affection, neither does your dog. If he offers a little love by nuzzling, don’t discourage or dismiss it. Reciprocating the affection is important and will strengthen your bond with the dog, but dismissing or reprimanding him can damage your relationship.
However, if your dog is begging for food at the dinner table, this is something you might want to remedy. Before you know it, your child’s vegetables will all magically disappear. It’s not always healthy for a dog to eat your human dinner regularly. You can ask your vet what table foods are healthy for your dog, but foods that aren’t recommended for humans, like fried foods, fast foods, sweets, or fatty foods, are probably not recommended for your dog either.
To stop your dog from nuzzling at the table, you can either train him to lay in his bed or another designated spot during dinner. Another option is not to allow him near the dinner table at all. You could put your dog in his crate if he has one or use a gate to separate your dog from the table. Dinner smells delicious and if your dog has been fed under the table for a while, it’ll be a tough adjustment for him. He might bark, yelp, or whine when you try one of these methods. If that’s the case, take him to the vet or trainer to learn helpful techniques of dealing with this dinnertime
Other Solutions and Considerations
If you have an affectionate dog, he might nuzzle up to every guest that comes through your door. While this is much better than demonstrating aggressive behavior, not every guest may welcome it. If someone has a fear of dogs and doesn’t want to accept affection, this can be problematic. You should train your dog to interact with humans and make sure he understands your commands. Use a trainer to get tips on this behavior because you don’t want your dog to become unfriendly toward anyone, but he needs to know his boundaries. Teaching your dog to greet people appropriately is essential not only for your home, but when you’re on walks or you leave your dog at doggie daycare or board him while you’re out of town. If you don’t want your dog jumping in bed as your alarm clock or the third wheel, or he’s on the couch trying to nuzzle you, you should go to a trainer. For both human relationship and canine relationships, it’s tricky business refusing affection, so you want to ask the trainer best how to help.
It’s always nice to get a little attention from your furry friend, whether it’s "I love you" or "I want your dinner." Let your pup give you nuzzles when appropriate and take him to the trainer if he’s affectionate at the wrong time. The trainer can help you work with your dog to refuse affection so it doesn’t damage your relationship and your friendship can last fur-ever.