Dogs are wonderful animals and are excellent companions, providing comfort, emotional support, and love to everyone, no matter how old they are or what stage in life they are in.
With every breed having unique characteristics, many dog owners can find the perfect pup for any size family, whether it’s a big pooch for an active family with kids that like to run around the yard or a small dog for an older person living alone.
Of course, no matter what breed you get, they’ll all be loving and lovable as long as you treat them right. As an added bonus, dogs have even been known to be more stress-relieving than owning goldfish!
Personally, I’m a fan of mutts. Of all the dogs in my life, both as a kid and as an adult, I think I’ve had the most fun with our mixed-breed rescues from the local animal shelter. Of course, that might be because the only purebred pups my folks got were small dogs like Yorkies.
But don’t let their cute appearances fool you, dogs can be weird sometimes too. If a dog starts to act oddly, it is important that we act as responsible pet owners by understanding why they are doing something out of the ordinary and how we should handle that situation.
*Please keep in mind that there is a difference between headbutting and head pressing. In this article, I’m talking about headbutting.*
So, what about dogs that insist on slamming their head into you? Why does my dog headbutt me? The quick and easy answer is, your dog is headbutting you because of one or more of these reasons:
- To tell you something
- To show love
- To get comfort from you
- To get some love and attention from you
- To show dominance (not likely!)
- To play
Trying To Tell You Something
Your dog has likely figured out how to let you know about her everyday needs. From my own experience, my dog Duke does a sort of little dance in front of me and then runs to the back door when he needs to go potty.
But what if your canine companion is trying to convey something new or unfamiliar? She might resort to doing something a bit odd like…headbutting you.
While it may seem strange at first, this could be your good girl’s attempt at telling you something important. So, it might be a good idea to keep an eye out for clues and hints about what she’s trying to say!
She Loves You
Headbutts, especially gentle ones, can be a sign of love from our furry friends. Our canine companions have strong emotions and want to have strong bonds with us.
Headbutting is one way your dog might express her incredible love for you – it’s her way of letting you know she cares.
So, unless you’re trying to break your sweet girl’s headbutting habit, take the time to show your appreciation too. Some good pets or scratches behind the ears never hurts! After all, receiving affection is certainly one of your pooch’s favorite things to do.
Wanting Your Comfort
Headbutting could be your pup’s way of trying to get as close as possible to you. Pay attention to what might be bothering her when she headbutts you – new pets, loud noises or strange visitors can all bother dogs enough to feel the need to seek comfort from you in the form of physical contact.
If this is the case, don’t forget to show some extra affection, as comforting hugs and cuddles are often enough to help your dog calm down.
She Wants Love And Attention From You
Your dog may resort to headbutting to ask for your love and attention. After all, sometimes all dogs need is some nice cuddles and a few playful pats on the head or gentle rubs behind their ears. And unlike the previous reasons we explored, this is for nothing more than the end result of getting your love!
Remember, showing your dog that you care can go a long way in building a strong bond between the two of you, while also helping your pup to feel comforted and at ease.
Dominance (Probably Not!)
Headbutting is unlikely to be a sign that your dog is trying to show or gain dominance over you. After all, you are the one who sets the rules in your relationship, so it’s more likely that there are other reasons why they might be seeking attention from you.
If none of the other reasons I cover in this article seem to apply to your dog and you still suspect she’s trying to dominate you, look for other clues. Your dog isn’t only going to try to take charge in one small way.
Headbutting could be your dog’s way of telling you she wants to play. Not only is this a form of bonding time with your dog, but it also provides her with much needed mental stimulation and physical exercise; both of which are important for staying healthy and happy.
You’ll know if this is the case by your pup’s energy levels and body language…she’ll be bouncing off the walls, tail wagging, awaiting a reaction from you that will ultimately decide whether or not playtime commences.
If you have the time and the energy, I highly recommend giving her what she wants and enjoying some quality time together.
If your pooch isn’t getting the mental stimulation she needs throughout the day, she may start doing some things that seem a bit strange to pass the time. And headbutting you is just one way of trying to find something to do.
It’s important to remember that your dog isn’t being naughty or rebellious – she simply has excess energy that needs an outlet, and might not know how else to express it.
Give her toys, take her for walks, or play a game of fetch; all these activities can help keep a dog’s boredom at bay.
You Trained Her To Headbutt You
Every time your pup headbutted you, she paid attention to your reaction. If you’ve given her positive attention or treats each time, then it reinforces her behavior and she will likely keep doing it.
On top of that, this form of intentional or unintentional reinforcement can end up training your dog to think headbutting is something you want her to do! So, be sure to only reward the appropriate behaviors you want to encourage.
When your pup is feeling excited, it may be hard for her to contain her enthusiasm. Even the best-trained dogs can find themselves doing things they’re not supposed to when they’re overwhelmed with excitement.
Headbutting you could be a sign that your good girl is happy and it’s simply the only way she can come up with to engage with you…at least in her craze of excitement.
In my articles, I often talk about how wild my dog Duke was as a puppy. Even after he was well trained, he’d become so overcome with excitement at times that he seemed like a madman. I really wish I would’ve caught it on camera at least once!
Certain breeds of dogs, like sheepdogs, have herding instincts that may still manifest in our urban and suburban life as headbutting. If your good girl was bred to move and control livestock, then her instinctual techniques have been passed down through the generations.
This means that when she seems to be headbutting you or attempting to ‘herd’ other household members, it’s because this type of instinctive behavior has been ingrained into her over time.
While it can be a cute display of loyalty and love towards you, it’s important to remember to reward her for exhibiting appropriate behaviors instead.
Is It Okay For My Dog To Headbutt Me?
The answer to this depends on the reasons why your dog is headbutting you. If she’s doing it for a sweet reason like showing her love and affection, then it’s perfectly fine. Of course, it also has to be true that you don’t mind being headbutted every now and then.
But, keep in mind that if your good girl is headbutting people besides you, it could be hard to find someone willing to dog sit when you want to take a long weekend. This kind of behavior can seem aggressive or annoying to some people and lead them to believe your pup doesn’t play nice with others.
To avoid this problem, consider teaching your pup a few tricks or commands (I’ll go over that below when I discuss how to stop your dog’s headbutting ways) so that she knows when it’s appropriate and when it isn’t ok for her to headbutt. This will not only help her understand boundaries better but also make her more enjoyable for others to be around!
Why is My Dog Suddenly Headbutting Me?
It can be worrying when our beloved canine companions start a new and strange behavior. So, if your pup has suddenly taken to headbutting you then you may be concerned. The good news is that this behavior could be completely normal and a result of one of the causes I already mentioned above.
However, suddenly taking up headbutting could also be a sign of distress or illness in your dog. Be sure to watch for other signs that show your good girl isn’t in top health. Our pooches can’t verbally tell us when something is wrong. In fact, they may even try to hide it! But a good indicator that something isn’t right though is a sudden shift in behavior.
If your dog is also suddenly acting differently in other ways too, then it may be best to take her to the vet.
How Can I Stop My Dog Headbutting Me?
Your dog’s headbutting may have seemed cute the first time or two she did it, but now it’s relentless and you’ve decided to put a stop to it. Fortunately, there are some easy and effective ways to stop this behavior.
Learn The Why
Understanding why your dog is headbutting you can help you figure out how to best address the behavior. It all depends on if she is doing it out of excitement, boredom, or something else. The reason why will change the way you approach things. Once you know the cause, you’ll be able to choose which solution(s) works best for your situation.
Stop Rewarding Her
When attempting to break your good girl from her habit of headbutting (or any habit!), it’s important to be mindful to not reward her with positive reinforcement when she headbutts you!
Of course, this seems obvious, but even something as seemingly innocuous as a scratch behind the ears or mumbling ‘good girl’ when she head butts you can make the behavior more appealing, which will only encourage future headbutting.
If your pup is headbutting due to stress, it’s important to try and get to the root of the problem. This means that it’s time for you to take a closer look at your dog’s environment and figure out what might be causing her distress.
If it’s something that you can control, like noise levels or people coming in and out of the house, do what you can to provide her with a peaceful and calming home environment. This might mean things like giving her a bed in a quiet part of the house or keeping a puppy away from her for part of the day.
Give Your Dog Plenty Of Love And Attention
Our dogs show us so much love, and we also need to be sure they know they are loved and appreciated too. That means giving them plenty of attention, time, playtime, exercise, and overall affection.
This dedicated interaction will help your pooch feel secure and know that you care about her well-being. And as an added bonus, your dog will surely thank you with even more love for all the cuddles!
In some cases, simply ignoring your dog when she’s headbutting can be an effective way of getting her to stop the behavior. This teaches her that headbutting isn’t a great way of getting your attention.
After some effort, she should move on to some other method of trying to get your attention. Of course, if you’ve given in to her headbutting for a while, this won’t be the fastest way to curb it.
Make sure that your dog understands basic commands like ‘no’ and ‘back’ so that you can more easily address this (and any unwanted) behavior when it arises.
You can also teach her other useful commands like ‘off’ and ‘down’ which will prove helpful as well.
Positive Reinforcement & Consistency
No matter which approach(es) you take to address your dog’s headbutting, be sure to use positive reinforcement and only reward good behaviors. And don’t reward the behaviors you don’t want; like headbutting!
Also, remember to act consistently each time so your dog doesn’t get confused.
Get Professional Help
If none of these tips help, then consider getting professional help. A qualified expert will be able to provide personalized guidance on how best to train your dog not to be a headbutter any longer.
Should I Punish My Dog For Headbutting Me?
Absolutely not! Punishing your dog for headbutting may simply lead to confusion or distrust between the two of you. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement. When she exhibits good behavior, reward her with treats, cuddles, and playtime!
This will help teach her the kind of behavior you welcome, while also showing her that you care about her.
You can also distract her from their headbutting by offering a fun toy or game for them to play with, allowing you to redirect her energy to something more appropriate.
By engaging in activities such as regular walks, and training your good girl, you can help your dog let out her energy in healthy ways which will make better behaved overall.
Is My Dog Showing Signs Of Dominance By Headbutting Me?
Even though I briefly covered this above, I want to give it its own section because sometimes when owners think their dogs are trying to dominate them they are cruel to their loving pet.
It’s important to remember that when it comes to headbutting, your pup may just be seeking attention or trying to tell you something.
Dogs are almost never trying to show dominance when they headbutt; rather, this behavior may suggest insecurity or a need for more mental and physical stimulation.
Before leaping to conclusions, consider other signs of dominant behavior such as growling and lunging. If you are also seeing these or other signs then get advice from an animal behaviorist.
Summary: Why Do Dogs Headbutt People?
Headbutting is a behavior that can be endearing and sweet when done in the right context. It’s important to understand why your dog might be headbutting you, as she could be trying to communicate one of many things.
In some cases, while it could be a sign that she’s attempting to dominate you (probably not!); more likely it is simply a way for her to initiate playtime, release boredom or excitement, or act on instinctual behaviors from her breed.
Overall, understanding why your dog might headbutt you is key in determining how best to respond. By being aware of the various reasons why this behavior may appear, such as boredom or instinctual behavior stemming from your dog’s breed, you can create a positive experience between yourself and your good girl while taking care that she’s getting her needs met every day.
No matter the reason behind the headbutting, it’s essential that you learn how to respond properly and reward your pup for exhibiting appropriate behaviors instead. You can do this by playing with her, providing her with mental stimulation throughout the day, and considering professional training if necessary.
With patience and consistency in your training methods, you can train your dog not to headbutt you or to only do so when you are okay with it.