Watching your dog bury their head in your coach is an interesting one. Sometimes we just stop and wonder why our dog would want to do this. At other times we may be looking to protect our new furniture. Either way; why do dogs tend to do this? What does it mean and more importantly, should it be stopped? I spent some time researching to find out for good. I’ll be sharing all that I found with you here today.
So, why does my dog bury his head in the couch? A dog will bury their head in the couch for both positive and negative reasons. The main ones are: for comfort and to relax, out of stress and anxiety, to get something, to scratch their nose or face, to mark the couch as their territory, or because they associate this behavior with something positive, like getting a treat or attention.
All dogs are unique; with their own interesting personalities and behaviors.
Nevertheless, there are certain traits that all dogs share. Head burying is a strange one but many dogs of many different breeds do it.
Sometimes there is no need to worry, and nothing more that needs to be read into it. At other times, it could indicate a problem.
So, just like any behavior in your dog, it’s important to keep an eye on it.
Look for when they are most likely to do it, what makes them stop, and other accompanying behaviors – perhaps like scratching.
Is head burying new? Has something in your home changed? These are just some of the questions that you can look to ask yourself.
From there, and by identifying any potential cause; you’ll be in a much better position to understand the behavior. And, you may even be able to help stop it (if you do perceive it to be an issue.)
Nevertheless, let us now take a closer look into the different reasons a dog may do this, so you can find out exactly how to proceed – if it is starting to concern you.
Reasons Why Your Dog Buries His Head In The Couch
First and foremost, pretty much every dog will bury their head at some point. It should be seen as normal.
While your dog’s vice is the couch, it is not uncommon for them to bury their heads in blankets, the ground, other pieces of furniture, or even you.
But why they may do this can differ. So, let us take a closer look at each one:
Stress and Anxiety
When a dog is stressed or anxious, you’ll soon likely notice through their body language among other indicators such as growling or pacing.
However, the couch can also be used as a place to escape and ‘hide’. An ideal piece of furniture to conceal itself from its owners.
Digging and then laying in the whole, is another example that you may see.
Either way, when faced with an uncomfortable situation, dogs are simply diverting their attention elsewhere.
Comfort And To Relax
Now you can probably understand this one.
Besides, this is why you likely purchased your couch, to begin with!
The couch is a very comfortable place, especially for a dog. It also resembles their bed, in many ways.
If you have a lot of cushions or blankets, then it is even more likely that your dog may gravitate towards them.
Hunger Instinct From Puppy Years
While more common in younger dogs, there are a number of behaviors that a dog may continue into older life.
One such instance is head burying.
Newborn puppies feed by burying their heads into the mother and drinking their milk.
So, this kind of movement may be a response to hunger or even a request to you for food!
To Get Something
It may well be that your dog has seen something. But, more than likely they may smell something under the cushions. It could quite possibly be a piece of food.
When you consider that a dog’s sense of smell is 10,000–100,000 times as strong as a human, it comes as no real surprise!
Scratch Their Nose/Face
We’ve all had that irritating itch on the nose or the face. For us, we simply place our hands and scratch away.
Dogs are not so fortunate.
It’s difficult, if not impossible for dogs to reach some places.
So, it’s very possible that burying their head in the couch is offering some kind of relief to your dog.
Sniffing has many different uses and serves many different purposes for a dog. We’ve seen how powerful it is in the section above.
And while we associate urination with the marking of territory, their noses also carry a lot of scents that they can use.
So, when a dog is burying their head into the couch, or even you, it may be marking the said item as its territory.
They do so to display to other dogs and animals that this is their ‘spot’; its a sign of dominance.
You may even have inadvertently taught your dog to bury their head into the couch!
If you offer your dog a treat, provide additional attention or play with them following this behavior, they may make the positive association and do it in the hope of more.
There are a range of studies, such as those at the universities of Vienna and Oxford, that have begun to provide evidence that dogs copy some of their owner’s behaviors and movement patterns from humans.
So, if you routinely curl up on the sofa, or even place your head under the covers, they may attempt to do the same on the couch.
Should You Stop Your Dog Burying Their Head In The Couch?
Whether or not you should stop your dog from burying their head into the couch largely depends on the cause. Why are they doing it to begin with?
Beyond this, you must ask yourself if this is a behavior that you are willing to allow and permit.
As the owner of any dog, it is important that you are at the top of the social hierarchy.
Your dog follows you and your instruction.
This is why obedience training is so important.
It enables you to effectively communicate with your dog, setting fair expectations and eliminating uncertainty for the dog on how they should behave.
But let’s imagine you are fine to let your dog continue to do this; should you then?
Well, it would be better to find out if it’s due to positive or negative reasons.
If it’s positive, then you may want to allow it. Perhaps it enables some time for you to bond, cuddle and may even be a nice way to unwind at the end of a long day.
However, if you notice that your dog is stressed and anxious, then you are going to want to look into why this is the case.
From there, you are going to want to do all you can to ease or even attempt to remove any source of said anxiety and stress.
So, you may need to look into the temperature of your home – is it too cold for instance, are there any drafts.
You may want to look into if anything is scaring them (which can range from loud noises to new/changes in the environment, large and strange objects, other animals, and certain people.)
Besides, we want our dogs to be comfortable in a home.
It leads to a much more fulfilling life, and a better relationship with our companions.
How To Stop Your Dog From Burying Their Head In The Couch?
If you did want to stop your dog burying their head in your couch, then it will depend on the context. You’ll need to find out exactly why they are doing so.
Equally, how often they do this and for how long will likely impact your chance of success, at least in the short term. And, how much effort will be required to stop or replace this behavior altogether.
While it can be hard to understand your dog in the moment, its crucial to pay attention to the rest of their body language.
Are they happy and energetic, or are they more docile and reserved when they look to do this?
Dogs are not able to communicate with us humans that clearly; so you will need to look for different signals to find out their current state of emotional wellbeing.
Nonetheless, if you can identify one of the causes above, stopping this behavior may be as simple as:
Clean Your Couch
Cleaning your couch, or removing any uneaten pieces of food stuck in or underneath.
Redirecting Your Dogs Attention
Or, you may need to redirect your dog’s attention altogether.
This could mean when that when your dog attempts to do so, you quickly disrupt and prevent them from doing so.
Perhaps it’s an interactive toy that you provide to them across the room, or letting them into a different part of the home.
Then, of course, you need to ensure you are not encouraging your dog.
Whether this by through cuddling or treats, sometimes we promote behaviors in our dog unintentionally.
Another potential option is to not give your dog access to the couch altogether.
Whether this is through baby gates, keeping them out of the room or even giving them a play-pen inside your living room. All can work well.
Invest In A Dog Bed
Ensuring your dog has another place to lie down, such as their own personal bed next to the couch may be all you need to do.
With a little bit of training and incentive, you may be able to stop your dog from accessing your couch entirely.
Consulting A Vet
Lastly, you may need to consider consulting a vet.
If this behavior has come on suddenly, or you notice anything adverse in your dog – such as a low general demeanor, illness, or injury, a vet may be required.
Ultimately it’s all about matching the needs of your dog with your own rules, desires and preferences.
But with patience, time and consistency, you can help to limit or prevent your dog from doing this; if you wish.
Dogs bury their heads into the couch for a multitude of different reasons.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to be able to give you one exact reason and one exact solution for it.
Its just like scratching the floor; hard to pinpoint and in many ways a natural behavior.
It also depends a lot on the breed of your dog, their age, health status, and how they have been trained.
But it also depends on external factors like your home, the conditions, time of year and any animals/pets.
All in all, just like with any other behavior, it’s important to look to understand why they do it.
Even if you are entirely fine with it.
It could indicate a problem or something that needs addressing.
So, do take a minute to assess the situation. You owe it to your dog.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.