Why Does My Dog Rub His Face on Me in the Morning?

Waking up to a furry friend eagerly rubbing its face against you is a heartwarming and common experience for many dog owners. 

This endearing behavior often raises the question, “Why does my dog rub his face on me in the morning?” 

While there may not be a single definitive answer, several factors contribute to this behavior. In this article, we will explore the various reasons behind this morning ritual and shed light on the possible explanations.

Marking Territory

Dogs have a strong instinctual need to mark their territory, and rubbing their face on you in the morning can be a way of claiming ownership and expressing their presence. 

By leaving their scent on you, dogs are essentially marking you as part of their territory and pack. This behavior is similar to when dogs rub their faces on furniture, walls, or other objects to leave their scent and assert dominance.

Seeking Affection and Attention

Dogs are social animals that thrive on human companionship and interaction. Rubbing their face on you in the morning could be a way for your dog to seek affection and attention. 

This behavior might be their subtle yet effective way of saying, “Good morning, I’m here, and I want some love!” Dogs often rely on physical contact to communicate their emotions and strengthen their bond with their human companions.

Displaying Submission

Face rubbing can also be a submissive gesture from your dog. By exposing vulnerable areas like their face, dogs are displaying trust and submission towards you. 

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This behavior is particularly evident in dogs that have a naturally submissive or anxious temperament. It is their way of acknowledging your authority and showing their willingness to accept your leadership.

Relieving Itching or Discomfort

Sometimes, the reason behind face rubbing in the morning can be as simple as relieving itching or discomfort. 

Dogs may rub their faces against you or other surfaces to scratch an itch or alleviate irritation caused by allergies, skin conditions, or foreign substances. 

If your dog’s face rubbing is accompanied by excessive scratching, redness, or inflammation, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.

Spreading Their Scent

Dogs have scent glands located on their faces, particularly around their cheeks and chin. These glands produce pheromones, which are chemical signals used for communication. 

By rubbing their face on you, dogs are leaving behind their unique scent, which acts as a form of communication and identification. 

This behavior can serve as a way for your dog to advertise their presence and establish familiarity with you.

Relieving Stress and Anxiety

Face rubbing can be a self-soothing behavior for dogs experiencing stress or anxiety. Just like humans find comfort in physical touch, dogs often seek tactile stimulation to alleviate their anxiety. 

By rubbing their face against you, they engage in a calming activity that helps them relax and find comfort in your presence.


When your dog rubs its face on you in the morning, it can be a combination of instinctual, emotional, and physiological factors. 

From marking territory and seeking affection to relieving discomfort and spreading their scent, dogs have various reasons for engaging in this behavior. 

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Understanding the motives behind face rubbing can help strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend and deepen your understanding of their unique communication style. 

Remember, each dog is an individual, so observe your pet’s body language and context to better comprehend their specific motivations.