Behavior

Why Does My Dog Cover His Face With His Paws?

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Do you often wonder what your dog is trying to tell you? Since they don’t have the physical ability to communicate with us in our own language, we are forced to interpret their body language to figure out what they want us to know. What could a dog covering their face with a paw really mean? Lots of things, actually!

Below, we summarize the 5 main causes to help you understand why a dog puts His paws over His face:

5. To Get Your Attention

Why does my dog cover his face with his paws

As dogs are such intelligent and sensitive animals, they quickly assimilate to our responses to their behaviors. If your dog perceives that by putting His paws on His face, he can receive treats or some other positive acknowledgment, it is understandable he might do this action repeatedly. Putting their paws over their face on command is a common trick which dog trainers teach. If your dog knows that doing this action will result in tenderness from his owner, it can be used to calm him down in tense situations.

4. I’m Not a Threat

Why does my dog cover his face with his paws

As pack animals, dogs are constantly trying to figure out where they fit within the pecking order of a group, as a dog’s “place” in the pack constantly changes depending upon the situation. If a dog thinks that another dog might pose a threat to him at that moment, he’ll pre-empt any aggressive moves the other dog might make by doing something that communicates: “hey, I get that you’ve got the upper-hand right now, and I’m totally cool with that.” He could send this message in a variety of ways: by getting low to the ground, rolling over to show his belly, and/or by covering his eyes with his paws. I mean, how can anyone want to go into attack mode after seeing something as adorable as that?

3. Wiping or Scratching

Let’s just start with the obvious. Maybe Rover’s just got something on or near his eyes that’s making him uncomfortable, so he’s trying to wipe it away. Some dogs are prone to excessive tearing and gunk can build up under their eyes as a result. Or, he could just be scratching an itch in the general eye area while you guffaw with delight over how cute he looks while doing it. Which leads us to the next possibility…

2. Sleeping

Dogs may simply put their paws over their head because they are comfortable. When they bed down for a nap or rest, they might put their paws over their eyes to be in a position conducive to sleep.

1. Fear or Anxiety

If you’ve ever covered your eyes during a scary movie, then this will make perfect sense to you! While our dogs aren’t actually thinking that they’re hiding from the threat in front of them, this visceral response to fear or anxiety still looks familiar to humans. Every dog is different, but a dog who compulsively hides their face in reaction to various situations may have severe anxiety that should be addressed by your vet.

 

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