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Why Does My Dog Cover Her Face With Her Paws?

| Published on July 23, 2017

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! Here are 4 possible reasons your dog might be covering her face with her paw.

#1 – Wiping or scratching

Dogs get itchy too, and if their face itches, swiping at their face with a paw is usually quicker and more effective than rubbing their face on the ground or smearing their eye goobers on your favorite blanket. If this behavior is done compulsively, though, it could be the sign of a problem such as pain, irritation, or infection. If your dog is pawing at their face more than usual, a trip to the vet may be in order.

Image source: Ron Bulovs via flickr

#2 – 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 themselves 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.

#3 – Submission

Dogs are pack animals and are used to showing deference to the leader, or alpha, of their pack. By avoiding eye contact, your dog is acknowledging that their life is in your hands. They trust you to take care of them and don’t want you to feel threatened. This behavior may be accompanied by rolling over to show you their belly. By exposing their vulnerable belly to you, they are showing their trust in you.

Image source: Peter Kaminski via flickr

#4 – Because you love it

If you reward your dog with positive attention every time she covers her face because you think it’s cute, she’ll do it more often in order to get that positive attention. Dogs generally thrive on pleasing their owners, so they’ll repeat any behavior that seems to make you happy!

Feature Image: Ron Bulovs via Flickr

(H/T: Cuteness, Petset)

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