You’re ready to hit the sidewalk or the trails with your dog, ready to get a couple miles of a dog walk in before bedtime, yet your pup constantly stops to rub his face in the grass of the neighbor’s yard next door … and the neighbor down the street … and at the park. Sure, it can be annoying, but it can cause concern as to why your dog rubs his face on the ground all the time.
There are a variety of reasons to explain why your dog is rubbing his face, says Dr. Amy Pike, Diplomat for the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists and owner of the Animal Wellness Center in Fairfax, Virginia. The first question you should ask yourself is, how often is he rubbing his face on the ground?
- Does your dog rub his face just occasionally?
- Does he rub it in the grass every time you go for walks?
- Or does he rub his face after he eats dinner?
Dr. Pike explains to dog owners that there are a lot of outside and inside factors as to why a dog might rub his face.
Outer factor: Scent
The outside world has a lot of good scents on the ground (some maybe not so good to humans). Dogs want to get closer to the scent and, in most cases, try to get that scent on them. They might also try to mark their territory by spreading their scent to tell the rest of the dog world that “Fido was here.”
Inner factor: Itchiness
When your eyes itch, you’re able to use your hands to rub your eyes. Same with scratching your nose. But dogs can’t do that, so the ground provides ample surfaces to scratch that itch. It might also mean your dog has allergies, if he’s really rubbing his face into the ground often.
Outer factor: Annoying facial accoutrements
If you’re starting to utilize an accessory that covers your dog’s face, such as a Gentle Leader head collar or a muzzle, your dog might not appreciate the look and want to remove it with any means necessary.
“If this has something to do with your dog wearing a muzzle or a head collar and he’s trying to rub it off his face, you will definitely want to redirect and distract your dog with high-value food items,” says Dr. Pike.
Inner factor: Sore teeth
It’s difficult to diagnose tooth pain in a dog, unless you go for a thorough veterinarian appointment. If a dog’s tooth hurts, or something is stuck in his teeth, he’ll start rubbing his face in the ground to relieve that annoying pain.
If the behavior is something new and is occurring a lot, Dr. Pike suggests, “You might want to see your veterinarian to rule out any sort of medical concerns.”
If it’s not anything too alarming, let your pup enjoy the pleasures the outside world has to offer!
“If it’s nothing medical or marked as concerning by your vet, let him roll!” Dr. Pike encourages. “Scents are very enriching to dogs, so let them have some fun outside.”