Why do dogs rub their faces on the carpet or furniture?

Why do dogs rub their faces on the carpet or furniture?

Dogs are very physical creatures, which spend a reasonable amount of their time scratching, licking themselves, grooming themselves and generally tending to their own physical needs. But for some dogs, this doesn’t seem to be enough, and your dog might develop something of an obsession about rubbing their faces on the furniture or the carpet, sometimes quite vigorously!

If you have ever witnessed your canine companion behaving in this way and it seems to be a regular part of their physical repertoire, you may have wondered what is going on, and there are many potential answers. In this article, we will cover some of the most common ones. Read on to learn more!


Allergies in the dog can present themselves in a variety of different ways, and can be caused by a whole multitude of things too. Whether your dog suffers from an allergy to something in their food or their environment, certain parts of the body may become uncontrollably itchy to your dog, causing them to rub and scratch the sensitive spots on their faces or other areas on anything that has the right texture to provide them with relief.

Parasites and other skin problems

Any type of parasite or mite that triggers a reaction in your pet, even something as simple as fleas, can lead to hugely irritating itchiness that your dog just has to get out of his system!

If your dog has a flea infestation or some other unwanted passengers hitching a ride such as mites or mange, they will not just be itchy around their head, but usually, across their whole body. Keep an eye out for your dog working extra hard to scratch other problem spots too, if parasites are suspected.

One of the main causes of canine head rubbing as an isolated incident is ear mites, which are not always visible or obvious. However, left unchecked, ear mites can actually spread across the neck and body too, so don’t rule this out.

Problems with the collar

If your dog wears a collar all of the time, it is important to make sure that it fits properly and is not too snug or too loose, and that the shape and style of the collar are a good match for your dog. Look out for spots where the collar might be pinching, rubbing, or causing bare spots, and replace it ASAP. Also, bear in mind that some dogs can be sensitive to the anti-parasitic agents contained in flea collars, so if your dog wears a flea collar, consider replacing this for a normal collar.

Food, water and muck

You have probably noticed that some dogs are much more prone to getting mucky than others, and some dogs don’t even manage to have a drink without covering their ears and faces in water! Lots of dogs finish a meal with food on their noses or around their muzzles, and depending on how fastidious your dog is about their grooming, they might simply be rubbing their faces to try and remove it. Some dogs find the feeling of something being on their face particularly annoying, and if they cannot reach it to scratch it off, may resort to the carpet or furniture to do the job for them.

Also, if you have a brachycephalic dog (one with skin folds) that keeping the skin folds clean and dry is a vital part of caring for your dog, as otherwise they may experience discomfort and potentially scratch and rub to relieve irritation or soreness.

Something smells or feels good...

Sometimes, the underlying reason behind why a dog might like to rub their face on odd things is as simple as that it feels good, or smells good. Your dog might simply enjoy the texture of the carpet or furniture in question, just as dogs very much enjoy the feeling of grass under their feet. Also, if your carpet or even soft furnishings have an enticing aroma- either in and of themselves, or because there is a trace of something tasty or fragrant trapped in the fibres- your dog might just be showing his approval and trying to soak up the scent!

Scent marking

On the subject of scent, there is also the possibility that your dog is rubbing their face about in order to scent mark their surroundings. While dog’s scenting glands largely reside around the butt and in the urine, the coat itself and the mouth also have the ability to transfer the dog’s signature onto the things around them.

If your dog firmly understands that spraying or scooting in the house is forbidden, their next course of action is to use their faces and bodies to imbue their surrounding environment with their natural scent, and mark the home as their own.

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