Why Does My Dog Scratch His Face?

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why does my dog scratch his face

Have you ever wondered why your dog scratches his face?

That’s a pretty common dog behavior. Your pup might either be scratching his face with his paw or he might even rub it on the carpet or your couch.

I’ve always wondered why Baloo is doing that, especially because he sometimes rubs his face on my furniture or on me (yep) and it just looks hilarious.

When he was a puppy, I was actually worried that it might be a bit too excessive, though.

When I got him checked at the vet, I learned a few interesting things that I’d like to share with you.

Rest assured, not every kind or scratching means a health issue.

Why Does My Dog Scratch His Face?

Is your dog scratching his face a lot? You may be wondering if he has some kind of problem.

Sometimes, if your dog is itching excessively, it is a sign that something’s wrong. You should pay attention to your dog’s itching along with his other behaviors. This will help you determine if you should bring your dog to a vet.

Here are a few things that you should watch out for if your dog is scratching his face.

1. Parasites

If your dog is scratching excessively, then you might have a parasite problem on your hands.

Parasites that live on your dog’s body like ticks, mites, and fleas can all cause your dog to be itchy. This is because they burrow into your dog’s skin and cause inflammation and discomfort.

That’s right… yuck!

Pay close attention to your dog’s face to check for any parasites. If he has fleas, you’ll find little bugs the size of sesame seeds. Make sure to also check your dog over for ticks. Some types of tick carry Lyme disease which can cause serious issues for you and your dog.

2. Boredom

Some dogs scratch their faces just because they’re bored. If that seems weird, then think about the habits we humans pick up when we get bored.

Some of us pick at our skin, or bite our nails. Sure, it’s not the healthiest thing, but it’s something to do to keep us busy!

Your dog might be doing the same thing if he’s scratching his face a lot. This is just a habit he’s fallen into so he can distract himself from having nothing else to do.

If your dog is bored, he’ll show you other signs. So is your dog bored? Here are 7 signs and symptoms of dog boredom.

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3. Stress/Anxiety

Just like nail biting and skin picking can be a habit to distract us from boredom, it can also be a way to distract us from stress and anxiety. The same thing is true for your dog too.

When you or your dog perform actions like scratching to relieve stress or anxiety, that’s called self-soothing behavior. It’s a way to feel better, even though it doesn’t actually get to the source of your issue.

If your dog is scratching out of stress, he’ll show you other symptoms too. This includes things like pacing, panting, whining, and changes in his body posture.

4. Sometimes It’s Just Itchy

Sometimes your dog scratching his face is a sign that something is wrong, and you should bring him to the vet. Other times it means that your dog needs a little more activity in his life.

But a lot of the time, it just means that your dog’s face is just itchy.

It’s normal for your dog to get itchy once in a while! The important thing is to be on the lookout for excessive itchiness, as well as for signs that something else may be going on.

But if your dog isn’t showing any other symptoms and it’s not excessive scratching, then he’s probably just a little itchy.

5. Ear Infection

As a dog owner, you know how much dogs like their ears rubbed. This is because your dog’s ears are a particularly sensitive part of his body, and having them stimulated feels super nice.

But if your dog is scratching at his ears or face a lot, then that could be a signal there’s a problem.

Ear infections are super common in dogs. This is especially true for dogs whose ears flop over instead of standing upright.

Baloo actually once had a small ear infection and that can also be caused by the ear hair that poodles have a lot of. Luckily, my vet told my that his ear hair just needs to be trimmed regularly and I don’t need to pluck it. Since I’m doing that, he’s been fine.

As part of your dog’s weekly grooming routine, you should make sure to look at his ears. Check for any signs of redness or discharge and trim it from time to time.

If your dog scratches his face excessively, that could be a sign for an ear infection
If your dog scratches his face excessively, that could be a sign for an ear infection

6. Allergy

Just like people, dogs can get allergies too! Dogs that are having an allergic reaction may be itchy all over, or just in one area.

There are lots of things that can cause an allergic reaction in your dog. Sometimes it’s the type of food you’re feeding him. It can also be a contact allergy, which means that your dog has touched something that he’s allergic to.

If your dog’s ears are itchy because of an allergic reaction, it’s important to determine what his allergy is. Your vet will be able to help you figure it out. Then all you have to do is make sure your dog avoids the allergen!

7. Dry Skin

If you’ve ever had dry skin, then you know exactly how itchy and uncomfortable it can be. Some dogs get dry skin because of changes in the weather, and some dogs just naturally have dry skin.

Dry skin can also be the sign of another problem. It could mean that your dog has an allergy, infection, or he’s not getting the right nutrition.

If you bathe your dog frequently, that could be another cause of his dry skin. You should make sure not to bathe your dog excessively, since frequent bathing could harm more than help.

I only bathe Baloo when he’s really smelly, like after he rolled in poop or similar… Luckily, that’s pretty rare.

As a result, he’s got really soft fur and has never had any skin issues. So, I guess that’s the way to go.

Sometimes, dogs just have an itch, like we do too
Sometimes, dogs just have an itch, like we do too

How Can I Stop My Dog from Scratching His Face?

If your dog’s scratching isn’t caused by just regular itchiness, then you’re probably looking for ways to help. Depending on the reason he’s so itchy, there are different things you can do.

1. Consult Your Vet

If you notice parasites on your dog’s skin, signs of infection, or you’re just plain not sure what’s going on, then checking in with your vet might be a good idea.

Your vet will be able to check your dog over for any signs that something is wrong. If they do find mites or parasites on your dog, then they’ll be able to prescribe the right medication and prevention options for the future.

Likewise, they’ll help you determine the cause of any allergies your dog might have. Even if it turns out that your dog doesn’t have a medical issue, at least you’ll have some peace of mind.

2. Provide Enough Mental and Physical Exercise

If the root of your dog’s problem is boredom, then giving him enough daily stimulation will help. There are lots of really great ways you can get in some physical activity with your dog.

If you like hiking and walking, then learn how long a dog can walk and hit the trails.

But don’t only rely on physical exercise. Getting mental stimulation is important for your dog too.

Here are 10 brain games for dogs to play at home that will help you work your dog’s brain.

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3. Avoid Stressful Situations

If your dog is itching as self-soothing behavior from stress, then avoiding those stressful situations is the way to go.

Determine what exactly is stressing your dog out so much, and then reduce your dog’s exposure to those situations.

As your dog’s stress levels go down, you should notice that he’s scratching his face less.

4. Train Him to Relax

While avoiding stressful situations initially will definitely help, there are some that you just can’t avoid forever.

For cases like that, training your dog to relax and stay calm during these moments will help.

You can use positive reinforcement dog training to help your dog learn to calm down. There’s a lot that goes into positive reinforcement, but the gist is that you’re ignoring behavior you don’t want to continue and rewarding behavior you do want to continue.

So for example, if you’re trying to teach your dog to relax, rewarding him when he’s calm and peaceful will help encourage him to stay that way.

If you’re going this route, taking small steps is the best way to go. You don’t want to overwhelm your dog—that won’t help either of you.

Begin by rewarding your dog in calm, familiar environments. Then slowly work your way up to more busy, chaotic environments, rewarding your dog every time he stays calm.

Why Does My Dog Scratch His Face After Eating?

If your dog rubs his face after he’s finished eating, you’re probably wondering if something is wrong. And while, yes, that could be a sign of an allergy or other issue, there are actually a few super cute reasons why he’s doing this.

Some dogs rub their faces after eating because they’re just so happy about their meal. It’s a way to express pleasure!

Others rub their faces to clean up after themselves, kind of like wiping your mouth with a napkin after eating.

Why Do Dogs Rub Their Face on the Carpet?

If your dog is rubbing his face on the carpet, then the most likely thing is that he’s just itchy. Make sure to check your dog for any signs of allergies, infections, or parasites.

If you don’t find any, then your dog is most likely fine and just relieving an itch!

Sometimes, a carpet, grass or your furniture just feels better for a good face scratch
Sometimes, a carpet, grass or your furniture just feels better for a good face scratch


It’s normal for your dog to get itchy and scratch his face once in a while. But if your dog is scratching a lot, then that could be a sign that something else is going on.

Always keep an eye on your dog and watch out for any other unusual behavior.

But if your dog isn’t scratching super often, then he’s mostly likely just a little itchy!

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