Why Do Dogs Rest Their Heads On You?

Hi everyone, I am wondering if anyone has ever been curious about why some dogs rest their heads on you?  When my dog lays her head on me, I have often wondered why and if other dogs do the same thing.

During a break today, I decided to investigate; I hope you enjoy what I uncovered.

Why do dogs rest their heads on you?

Dogs rest their heads on you as a way of showing they love you or as a means of being affectionate.  This type of affection that they display when laying or resting their heads on you is just one way of showing how much they love you, which is done through body language. 

Each dog will have its unique way of expressing this affection and love, resting their head or leaning their body on you is a common form of affection.  It is also a way for them to feel close to those they love, perhaps when the pet parent or loved one is busy. 

The pet parent may not know that their adorable fur baby needs attention, and this can be a silent way for them to help remind those they love most.  Dogs need physical touch just as much as humans, and unlike us, they cannot communicate this in words, so they use their body language. 

During these times, it is essential to welcome this love and the dog, no matter how busy the day.  These moments are short opportunities for pet parents and dogs to strengthen the love and bond between them. 

Body language is the primary way that dogs communicate followed by barking and other behaviors.  These signals, including resting a head on you are their way of communicating their needs.

Why Do Dogs Rest Their Heads On You?

Dogs have unique ways of showing affection.  This happens because they cannot express their feelings in words, so they must do so by using body language.  With that being said, an assortment of positive and negative physical actions can be noted as they attempt to express themselves.

When dogs rest their heads on their you, regardless if it is the arm, knee, or shoulder, it shows affection, love, and a wish to have it reciprocated as well.

In our busy lives, from checking email to working on a computer and running errands or driving to work, we have lots to do.  It is easy for us to forget about many things in the bustle of life, from taking lunch to the card we didn’t mail to aunt Olivia for her birthday.  That can even include the needs and want of the dog that is resting a head on you.

Innocently forgetting about our four-legged best friend can sometimes happen.  Thankfully, our loveable fur babies use the silent body language method to communicate what they want, need, think and feel.

When dogs rest their heads on you, they may be silently reminding you that they are still there.  They may want to feel close and connected or could be silently asking you to remember something they need, like attention.

We can often forget in our busy lives that dogs, like humans, need and thrive best in a loving household where they receive physical touch such as petting and praise words.  That is why it is essential to remember we must not push the dog away or ignore these moments.

This isn’t to say that if pet parents are busy, they should always do something when dogs are resting their heads on them.  It is helpful to recognize this physical touch is an expression of love that should be reciprocated when possible.

The gesture doesn’t have to be significant unless, of course, the pet parent or loved one wants to set aside what they are doing and spend some good quality time with their dog. 

A few scratches around the ear, a quick belly rub or soft, comforting pets, and a few words of praise can show love in return and acknowledgment for the moment.

These moments can be profound for helping increase the bond that already exists between a loved one and their fur baby.

What are some other ways that dogs will show affection besides resting their heads on you?

Dogs, who cannot communicate with words unless we consider barking, use body language as their method for expressing themselves.

This can come in many forms other than resting their heads on you for affection and vary from one dog to another.  Some dogs might lean into their owner or sit on their lap.   Still, others might lick, groom, or clean their pet parent or a particular part of their pet parent like the arm.

Wagging their tails is easy for us to understand. They are happy, but when they are less obvious, like resting a head on you, it might be easier to go unnoticed.   Other ways of showing affection for a dog are jumping and smiling and roughhousing or attempting to distract for playtime.

Dogs don’t usually work jobs, and they don’t have a plane to catch or a meal to cook.  They don’t care if the toilet is clean or the dishes, but they do care about the connection they feel with those they love. 

It needs to be often, healthy and loving.  This is why dogs might be found resting their heads on you or displaying other physical communication cues.

Can dogs resting their head on you mean something other than affection?

It is possible for resting their head on you to mean something other than affection for certain dog breeds.  While most dog breeds will use this as a means of showing or wanting affection, some dog breeds that are a bit more protective in personality can do this to show protection if there are other dogs around or they are feeling stressed.  It can also be that they feel stressed and need to feel protected.

This can be true in households where there is more than one dog or if other dogs are visiting a particular dog’s home.

Breeding and personality play a part in this behavior, and depending on the household and family.  Pet parents should be remedy this behavior as gently as possible if it appears to be a problem.   

Some dogs are more nervous and easily stressed and can be very protective at times.   Offering some words of praise and whatever else is needed to defuse certain household situations can reassure some dogs.

What can be done if dogs are resting their heads on you when it’s not appropriate?

If dogs are resting their heads on you when it’s not appropriate, it is best to acknowledge the behavior and quickly move on.  This will however depend on the situation and the pet parent and dog pair.

Perhaps a houseguest has come to the house, and the dog is feeling jealous that they are not being paid attention to. Giving a quick ear scratch and a Good Boy and then casually but gently getting up to move will show acknowledgment for the dog and their love while sending a message that now is not the time. 

The most important part is to acknowledge the affection by reciprocating quickly.  Short bursts of affection might be just what the dog needs to help them feel more content for a few minutes until more time can be devoted to them. 

Certain dogs however do tend to be more jealous then others, even humans and this is where having an in charge personality that is loving can help keep these dogs and their emotions in the right place.

Do certain dog breeds rest their heads on you more than others?

Yes, certain dog breeds rest their heads on you more than others.  Certain dog breeds are known for being naturally more affectionate and loving than others.  These dogs will have a natural tendency to seek out the love and affection of those they love while showing more love in return through various forms of body language.

Is it possible to teach dogs to rest their heads on their pet parent if they don’t do that?

Yes, it is possible to teach dogs to rest their head on their pet parent if they don’t do that.  When the pet parent or loved one sits down for a break during relaxing and quiet moments, encouraging a dog to sit beside you and rest can help, setting the mood for moment positive moments.

These dogs can also be beneficial for pet parents as dogs have a natural affinity to ease our stress and help us relax.  Offering these moments periodically throughout the day will gradually teach the dog that this is how you want to spend time with them.

As time passes, the dog will respond to this passive ritual that will become a much loved and pleasing time in their day.

Final Thoughts

For dogs, resting their heads on their pet parents or loved ones is the way for them to express affection physically.  Whether they want affection or are offering it doesn’t matter in these moments, they are looking to bond.

While life can be busy for us all, if we recognize these moments and respond in kind, even for a brief moment, it opens up the doorway to a strongly connected and affectionate relationship with our dog.  What more could anyone ask for!

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