Why Do Dogs Nudge?

Dogs' actions are their words.
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The feeling of a nudging pooch sure is cute. However, it's important to remember that your dog's goal with the action may not be to be adorable, but rather to express a message to you -- or to another dog. Nudging can indicate everything from submission to a simple request.

Expression of Status

If your dog encounters another canine and nudges his muzzle -- the mouth and nose region -- using his nose, then he may be attempting to express subordinate status. Your pooch doesn't feel like a big shot around this other dog and is trying to make sure the other canine knows it. Dogs often engage in this submissive body language as a way of keeping peace and avoiding disputes. They also sometimes push their tongues out rapidly as they nudge muzzles, as well -- another technique for showing submission.

A Simple Hello

Dogs occasionally nuzzle others -- whether human or canine -- as a way of greeting them. If you were in your backyard doing yard work for hours, your dog may nudge you once you finally get back in as if to say "I see that you're back. Good to see you."


Your sneaky little fluffball may occasionally employ nudging to get something he wants. If you're sitting on your sofa catching up on the evening news only to feel your pet's furry face against yours, he may just be asking you for something, albeit not so discreetly. Perhaps he wants some of those delicious beef treats you brought out for him yesterday. Maybe he needs to go outside. He may even just want a little bit of your valuable attention.

Expressing Dominance

Nudging often signifies submissiveness, but it also sometimes points to its polar opposite -- and that's dominance. If your dog nudges you often, so much that it seems excessive and kind of like a tool to get what he wants from you, whenever he wants it, he may just feel dominant over you -- uh oh. Other common signs of canine dominance are immoderate barking, obstructing your path every time you try to move, food guarding and the mounting of animals or human beings.

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