Nose-Nudging in Dogs

You come home in evening after a long day at work, and the first thing your dog does is touch you with a wet nose. I used to find this behaviour annoying because I like to be warned before any form of wetness makes contact with me. Having Buster touch me with his wet nose would catch me off guard and that is why I didn’t welcome the gesture. That is, until I realized it’s not just a meaningless gesture and there are reasons why dogs nose-nudge.

Dogs nose-nudge to say hi. Like in my case, it was my dog’s way of saying “hi” after being separated from me for over eight hours and welcoming me home. He was just happy to have me back, and when I realized it I was no longer mad at him.

However, watch out because nose-nudging could also be a way of showing dominance. To differentiate between a friendly “hi” and a sense of dominance check for other signs of dominance as well. If the dog also has other behaviours such as mounting and aggression and doesn’t just do a simple nose-nudge but does it severally, he is just showing dominance. Dominance should be curbed as soon as it’s spotted because if left alone it can lead to a dog that can’t obey commands from anyone.

Nose-nudging is also a sign of submission. This is displayed by nudging inside the other dog’s nose from below. It’s just the dog’s way of communicating to the other dog that he is not willing to engage in a battle he cannot win. It says there is no need for arguments, that he is willing to submit to the rules of the dog he deems superior to him. If you receive a nose-nudge from your dog on your face he is letting you know that he thinks you are his boss and he has no problem with that arrangement.

Dogs also nose-nudge to let you know that whatever you were doing was okay with him. If for example you were scratching his ears and you stop, he will nose-nudge you to urge you to continue. He might also push a toy towards you if he wants you to play with him or a bowl to indicate he wants some food.

Cute 📷 @nico_curtinho 

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