We all love our furry friends, but sometimes they act so strangely. Whether it’s Spot pushing around his food bowl before dinner time or Lucky nosing your leg on every walk, many dogs adopt the bizarre behavior of nose-nudging. With reactions ranging from amused to concerned, dog owners worldwide wonder: why does my dog nudge things with his nose?
Dogs nudge things with their nose because they want to move something. Nudging is also used to prompt a reaction in another creature or to show dominance. Dogs nudge to communicate and gather your attention.
In this article, we will discuss reasons why your dog nudges his food bowl, you, or even your cat, and whether or not this behavior is cause for concern.
Reasons Your Dog Nudges Things With His Nose
Nudging is a pretty common behavior when it comes to dogs. Here are a few to be mindful of though.
Your Dog Wants To Move Something
It is a well-known fact that dogs don’t have arms–how else are they supposed to move things? If the nose-nudging seems generalized among many objects (does your dog nudge his bed, his bowl, and his ball?), your dog likely nudges things because it’s the easiest way for him to move them.
Your Dog Wants Your Attention
If your dog nudges you until you pet him, play with him, or walk him, it’s his way of saying, “Hey! Pay attention to me!” You’ve likely reinforced this behavior by giving your dog what he wants after he nudges you.
If you find the nudging bothersome, or if it gets out of hand, it is essential to train your dog out of it. Only feed/walk/pet your dog at certain times of the day, even if your dog nudges you. When your dog nudges you, tell him, “No!” and then ignore him.
Your Dog Is Bored
When a dog is bored, he might nudge a ball or his food dish around, so it seems alive. Dogs are natural predators, so he enjoys the “chase” of a ball set in motion by his nose.
Your Dog Has Bad Eyesight
Sometimes, dog owners mistake an accidental bump into something like an intentional nudge. If your dog is old or has had problems with seeing before, he is likely having trouble seeing and will therefore misjudge the position of things.
Your Dog Is Hungry Or Thirsty
When a dog’s food or water bowl is empty, they will push it around to get your attention. The sound of the metal rattling against the floor alerts you to their need, and you go to refill the bowl.
Over time, the dog will learn that pushing around his food bowl will encourage you to refill his food or water bowl, and he will continue the behavior.
If you find this behavior bothersome, make sure to feed your dog only at certain times of the day and keep his water bowl filled all day. When he pushes around his food bowl, tell him, “No!” firmly.
What Does It Mean When A Dog Touches Noses With You
Your dog touches noses with you to show affection or get your attention. Many dogs will touch noses with creatures he can trust–animals that pose no harm, a close dog friend, or even their puppies. If he touches noses with you, he’s saying, “Hi, I love you, and I trust you!”
He might also want something from you. If he repeats the behavior rapidly in a short period, he is seeking attention, food, or exercise.
Why Does My Dog Nudge My Cat With His Nose
If your dog nudges your cat repeatedly, he is trying to get her to play with him, but if he touches noses with her just once, he is saying, “Hello!”
When your dog is bored, he will try to initiate play with your cat. Make sure that the playing never gets too rough. If your dog or cat seriously injures the other, put a stop to the playing. To satisfy your dog’s urge to play, set aside additional time to interact with him. Buy some toys, take him on more walks, or give him extra pats on the head.
When he touches noses with your cat just once, he wants to say, “Hi!” Dogs greet each other and certain animals, including cats, with a brief brush of the nose. This indicates a high level of trust with your cat since a dog’s nose is also highly sensitive.
Why Does My Dog Touch Me With His Nose When Walking
When your dog touches you with his nose while walking, he is trying to herd you. Many dog breeds were bred to promote this behavior, such as sheepdogs and collies. While endearing, herding is a sign of dominance.
A nudge can eventually lead to nipping and biting. Whenever your dog tries to herd you, tell him, “No!”
Remember other signs of dominance displayed while walking: does your dog lead the way? Does he tug on his leash? It is essential to make it clear to your dog who is in charge because aggressive behavior (such as growling, barking, and biting) is rooted in the sense of dominance.
Why Does My Dog Push My Puppy With His Nose
Your dog is nudging your puppy with his nose to show dominance or because he is curious. Remember: dogs are pack animals, and they feel the need to make sure everyone in the pack is aware of the hierarchy. On the other hand, the dog might be curious about this strange, warm, defenseless creature. He may poke your puppy around to inspect it.
If your dog displays this behavior to your puppy, it is vital never to leave them alone unsupervised. While it is unlikely that your dog will attack your puppy, it is always best to be safe rather than sorry. If you ever catch this behavior, make sure you tell your adult dog, “No!”
Why Does My Dog Nudge His Food Bowl With His Nose
When his food bowl is empty, a dog will nudge his food bowls to alert his owner or because his eyesight is failing. When a dog gets old, he will often have issues with depth perception, which will lead to the misjudgment of objects’ placement. Therefore, your dog will bump into, crash into, and nudge things more often.
On the other hand, your dog might want you to refill his bowl. Picture this: you hear a commotion in the kitchen.
When you rush in, you find your dog wagging at you, his empty food bowl halfway across the room. Sighing, you scoop a cup of food into his bowl to satisfy him. The next day, the same thing happens. And the next. And the next.
Well, of course, it keeps happening! Your dog has learned that, hey, if he makes a loud noise with his food bowl, his human will come running to fill it up. That’s a neat trick.
This behavior can quickly become annoying. If you want to train this behavior out of your dog, only feed him at certain times of the day, and do not feed him when he pushes around his bowl. That will only reinforce the behavior.
Dogs often use their noses as humans use their hands. They’ll clatter a food bowl to say, “I’m hungry!” and they’ll push along toys to a place that is just right.
Whether your dog’s nudging is a sign of aggression or not, it can become bothersome when your dog nudges you excessively. Make sure that you keep the dog on your schedule, not the other way around. If the behavior becomes annoying, stop reinforcing it!
The best thing you can do to stop the behavior is to tell your dog, “No!” and not give him what he wants. If he wants you to play, do some work. If he wants you to feed him, wait until dinner. The more you play into his desires, the more he’ll bother you.
However, it is essential to distinguish between nose nudging and nose rubbing. While the occasional nose rub against the carpet or a couch is just your dog trying to get a good scratch, incessant nose rubbing can point to a deeper issue.
If your dog has suddenly started rubbing his nose against household furniture and his nose appears irritated, dry, or even bloody, you should take him to see the vet. They are the experts! They will be able to tell what is wrong with your dog and provide the proper treatment.
Besides, if your dog is old or has a history of eyesight problems, he likely can’t see the objects in front of his nose properly. This is simply a characteristic of an aging puppy, but it is still a good idea to get your dog checked out by a professional.