Why does the dog poke his nose? 8 things he’s trying to tell you

László Enikő

2023. August 27 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

It's extremely cute when your pet starts poking you with his wet nose. But what is he trying to say, why is he doing it? Here are some possible reasons!


Nuzzling the dog’s nose is a form of communication and means that the dog wants something. Dogs do this primarily for attention and what they may want is food, protection, friendship or affection. As always, it’s worth assessing the situation first and understanding the context to find out what your four-legged companion wants to express.

Wants to sheperd you

One of the most obvious meanings of nose poking is that it wants to lead your pet in a certain direction. This is very common in dogs bred for herding. Such dogs often nudge their livestock with their noses to tell them which way to go. If dogs with this instinct are kept as pets, they will sometimes “shepherd” people (usually children) by nudging their noses.

He wants to show his love

The behaviour could be simply a way for your pet to show his love for you. Dogs also have scent glands in their noses, so when the animal nudges you, it leaves its mark on you. It’s a way to strengthen your bond.

Welcome to

The dogs will be very excited when they see you return from work. And in addition to tail wags and kisses, nudging their noses can be a form of greeting.

Do you want something

Your dog may poke you or push an object in front of you to show you what he wants. The action can be a toy call by pushing a toy towards you. If he nudges an empty bowl towards you, he clearly wants food. If your pet does this by placing his face close to yours, he is most likely in need of care and attention.


When dogs press their noses to the mouths and noses of other dogs, it is a way of being submissive and letting them know that the other dog is the senior. Why do they do this? Because it helps them avoid conflicts they don’t care about or know they can’t win. It’s a way of dogs to say, “Hey, let’s be friends.” A submissive dog may nudge its owner for the same reason.

Aggression, excessive willfulness

In some cases, nudging the nose may be undesirable, especially if it becomes a defiant act to exert control over you. You will notice this if the nudging becomes too forceful and violent just to get your dog what he wants. This may be accompanied by excessive barking, which is usually unnecessary. If this happens, it is important not to reinforce your pet. Ignore it until it calms down. These behaviours should be corrected immediately with training. To do this, you may want to enlist the help of a professional trainer.

He wants to remind you of something

Dogs like to live their daily routine. Sometimes, owners can be overwhelmed by work and may tend to ignore their pets’ schedules. When this happens, your dog may nudge you with his nose to remind you of something. He may want to tell you it’s time for a walk or to relieve himself.

Afraid of something

Your puppy may poke you with his nose if he is afraid of something. Try to observe what happens in his environment when he behaves like this. If you notice that he does this in certain situations, for example when there is another animal in the house that he feels threatened by, or when there are loud noises, he is probably trying to show that he is scared and wants to feel safe by poking.

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