While some dog parents may never experience it, others know well what it feels like to be headbutted by their dogs.
The question that many of these dog owners keep asking is – why does my dog headbutt me?
The first thing you should know is that headbutting is pretty common among dogs and other members of the animal kingdom.
Dogs, just like rams and many other animals, can headbutt you for multiple reasons. The difference is that dogs usually do it for playful reasons, getting your attention, or showing affection.
This cute behavior, though, can become problematic if you have a large and strong dog that can cause you pain during the process. It can also be a behavioral problem that needs to be addressed on time.
Read on to find out more about why your dog is headbutting you, when it is OK, and when you should stop it from doing so.
First, you should keep in mind that some dogs and dog breeds are more prone to this headbutting behavior. Some of them include Australian shepherds, Pitbulls, Blue Heelers, Airedale Terriers, Great Pyrenees, and others.
So, you can expect a dog from one of these breeds to start headbutting you from an early age. But what are the reasons for this behavior, and how can you correct it if needed?
The dog is seeking your attention
The most common reason your dog headbutts you is to get your attention. If you are sitting reading a book, your pup may feel the urge to grab your attention and to get you to start playing or petting it instead of reading. So, headbutting is a way for your dog to tell you to stop whatever you are doing and pay it more attention instead.
Dogs will display this type of behavior with other dogs as well. Unlike rams and other animals, which fight by headbutting each other, dogs usually use headbutting to nudge other dogs and to ask them to play with them.
Since this is a natural instinct in dogs, inherited from their pack-living wolf ancestors, headbutting you could mean that your dog considers you or another member as an equal member of the pack, or in other words – as another dog.
While this may look cute and amusing when the puppy is small, this behavior can become troublesome when the dog grows and becomes an everyday occurrence.
One fun fact about dog headbutting is that the North Wales Police trained their K-9 dogs to headbutt suspected criminals instead of biting them, which turned out to be effective in fighting crime.
How to stop the headbutting behavior in dogs
The good news is that most puppies will outgrow the head butting altogether as they mature. But if your adult dog is still doing it, and it is bothering you, you should work on curbing the headbutting.
As mentioned earlier, the head butting may mean that your pup considers you an equal instead of a pack leader. This may lead to further undesired behavior and even to your dog trying to dominate you.
This needs to be fixed if you want your pup to be properly behaved, follow your commands and directions, and thus stay safe from danger and problems.
The easiest way to curb the headbutting is to refrain from giving your dog the attention it expects when it is headbutting you. Simply ignore it, and continue doing what you are doing when your pup nudges you.
You can also firmly say “No” every time your dog tries to head butt you and then instruct it to lay down or go to its bed. Once this is done, you should turn around and ignore the dog. This will help your pup learn that it will not receive your attention, but quite the opposite if it continues to headbutt you.