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Why Do Dogs Cover Their Faces with Their Paws: 6 Common Reasons

Melissa Gunter

By Melissa Gunter

Cute brown puppy lying on the grass

Dogs are our best friends and an adorable part of the family. As dog lovers and owners, there are lots of things our dogs do that we simply love. One of those is covering their face with their paws. This cute behavior instantly makes our hearts grow. But have you ever asked yourself why your dog does this endearing pose? If you have, you’re in luck. We’re here to answer why dogs cover their faces with their paws by giving you 6 of the most common reasons. Take a look below and see if you can determine why your cutie is being so adorable.

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The 6 Reasons Dogs Cover Their Faces with Their Paws

1. Dealing with an Itch

Does your face ever get a bit itchy? When that happens, you instantly use your hand to scratch or wipe it, right? It’s the same for dogs. Whether a bug has tickled their face, they have an itch, or just feel something weird, paws are how they deal with it. Your dog’s paws are like your hands. They help in lots of situations, especially those where your pooch’s face isn’t feeling as it should.

While dogs get random itches, if you notice your dog is covering their face and whining, it could be something more. Allergies, fleas, ticks, and skin irritations can cause your dog to itch and in some cases, hurt. If you see this type of behavior followed by whining or other signs of distress, reach out to your veterinarian for treatment.


2. Submitting to You

Whether you realize it or not, your dog looks at you as a member of its pack. More importantly, they see you as the alpha. When the relationship reaches this point, it isn’t surprising to see your dog submit to you. One way they do this is by covering their face. This is your dog’s way of saying they trust you and feel safe when you’re around. It’s also your dog’s way of keeping you from feeling threatened by their presence.

Border collie lying on the bed
Image Credit: Kuznetsov Alexey, Shutterstock

3. Reacting to Intense Emotions

Just like us, dogs react to emotions. When humans get scared, it’s common to cover our faces in an attempt to hide away. When we’re sad, we cover our eyes. It’s the same with dogs. If they feel intense emotions such as fear, anxiety, and sadness it’s common for them to cover their face. If this type of behavior happens often or you see other signs of anxiety you should take your dog to the veterinarian for a check-up.

4. Making You Happy

Dogs are very in tune with their owners. They know when our moods shift or we aren’t feeling great. They also know when they do something that we find adorable. If your dog covers their face for whatever reason and you react in a good way, your dog may repeat the action hoping to get the same response from you. It’s up to you how you react each time and whether your dog continues trying to make you smile.

5. Protecting Themselves As They Sleep

Dogs feel vulnerable when they sleep. They also have natural instincts that kick in during this time. It’s common to find dogs that sleep with their paws covering their faces to protect their eyes and throat. This is a survival instinct ingrained in them. You may also notice them doing it when the weather outside isn’t so great when they are sleeping. This is another way of protecting themselves from something while they rest.

Dog sleeping on the carpet
Image Credit: Taras Verkhovynets, Shutterstock

6. “I’m So Embarrassed”

Has your dog ever done something goofy and caused the entire house to burst out laughing? When that happened, did you notice how your dog seemed embarrassed? Yes, just like humans dogs can feel embarrassed and even bashful. When they are feeling this way, it’s quite common for them to use their paws and cover their face.

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Seeing a dog cover their face is one of the most endearing things ever. While you may love the cuteness overload you witness when your dog does this, pay attention to the situation. If you feel your dog is suffering from anxiety, allergies, or another illness, reach out to your veterinarian so they can start feeling better soon. If not, simply enjoy your amazingly cute dog and their funny antics.

Featured Image Credit: LaurieCadman, Shutterstock

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