Why Does My Dog Bury His Head in the Couch?

By John Martin - March 26, 2022

Dog getting ready to bury head in the couch

Each of our furry family members has what we would call their own ‘pet peeves.’ Every pet has a different personality and has behaviors that only its owners can feel and understand.

Our pets may not speak our language, but they have a million other creative ways to express how they feel. We know the most common ones—wagging their tails, howling, showing their teeth and so many more.

Complexity of Behaviors

It is often not possible to ascribe one reason to one behavior. We are all complex creatures who say and do things that cannot be explained with one little adage.

And why should dogs be any different? Dogs are known to have a wide range of social and cognitive abilities that demand ongoing research to be better understood.

Thousands of years of evolution have resulted in the various behaviors we see in dogs today. And an important part of this evolution has been their relationship with humans!

The coevolution of humans and canines together also points to how certain behaviors adopted by the dog may be a result of their prolonged interaction with humans.

These behaviors also represent a certain level of intelligence or socio-cognitive ability that ultimately leads to the fruitful and communicative relationship we have with them.

Canine Communication

If you are reading this article right now, the writer has been able to communicate with you through language. It is a verbal and written language that we are skillful enough to understand.

When it comes to dogs, however, the medium changes. They may not use text to communicate but have a range of other mediums through which they can express their desires, feelings and needs.

Some of the kinds of communication include the nature of the gaze, various facial expressions, different types of vocalizations, communication through scents, and finally, types of body postures.

Just like how we yawn when we are sleepy, or flinch when we sense danger, dogs too use their body and posture to communicate what they feel or perceive.

Also Read: Should I Leave the Light On for My Dog?

Doggy Postures

Have you seen your pup stretching after a long nap, rolling over to show its belly, wagging its tail, or assaulting you with its body when you come back home after a long day of work?

These are just some examples of the hundreds of body posturing behaviors that dogs can engage in. Sometimes, we may misinterpret the behavior of the dog to mean something other than what was intended!

For example, you know how a dog rolls over to expose its belly? We usually take this as an invitation for petting. However, this behavior usually occurs when the dog is stressed out and is trying to look diffident.

But don’t worry! In a relaxed dog, the same posture also means that belly rubs are being demanded. This is the reason why it is often difficult to ascribe one reason to one behavior.

Possible Reasons for Face-in-Couch

So your dog likes to bury its face in your couch, hidden amongst the cushions, sometimes acting playful other times falling asleep in that position. As we said, the reasons for this behavior can be so many!

Let us look at the possible reasons why your dog might be doing this. Ultimately, it’ll be you, the dog’s parent, who will be able to judge exactly why and when your dog would do this.

Just Relaxing!

Have you ever asked yourself why you like to sit on a sand chair at the beach during sunset? Or in that super comfortable recliner kept near the fireplace in your living room? There is only one answer—to relax!

Your dog loves your new and comfy couch as much as you do. The more the cushions, the better. Maybe even throw in some chew toys in there to create the whole vibe.

When the dog is quite done with the day, having exhausted itself after running around the house like a missile, it may want to just snuggle among the soft cushions and take that well-deserved nap.

Also Read: Why Does My Dog Scratch My Bed Sheets?

Baby Memories

Have you ever seen a litter of puppies buried into their mom in order to suckle for milk like the insatiable little furballs that they are?

This act of burying their face on something soft could possibly be a remnant of that behavior. It’s like sucking your thumb when you were a kid, except it carries on till adulthood!

Your dog might be missing its mother, or instinctively getting into that face-in position without giving it any thought at all. It just wants to be a puppy again! More likely, it’s hungry… like always.

Expressing Empathy

Dogs are able to understand us and our emotions quite keenly. Studies have shown that dogs even understand how we are feeling—if we are upset or happy or excited.

For this reason, just like we like to bury ourselves in our bed when the day is not going too well, dogs too may imitate this behavior and express their solidarity.

This imitative behavior is not hollow. They bury their heads in the couch because they too feel sad about you being sad. Or perhaps they want to express to you that they are being sad.

Hidden Treasure

Dogs have a mind-boggling sense of smell compared to ours. Their nasal sense can be about 10,000 to 100,000 times stronger than that of humans!

For this reason, you may not even be aware that maybe that lost toy you had been trying to find for days got stuck somewhere in the folds of the couch. But your dog knows, and it wants it, and it will do anything to have it.

With that keen sense of smell, dogs may have found something in the couch that they want. Or maybe they like the smell of the new cushion covers, or maybe they want to be close to the remnant scent we leave behind on the couches!

Scratch the Itch

We have the luxury of buying backscratchers off the internet. Sometimes you may ask your best friend to scratch that one itch near your shoulder blades that you just cannot reach. It is so annoying!

Similarly, dogs, while very flexible, simply cannot scratch an itch on their snouts or heads or near their eyes that effectively.

The solution is to rub your face on the couch! The couch may be made of a material that is the perfect face scratcher, and the reason your dog is burying its face in there is akin to how we use our backscratchers.

Making Your Mark

The olfactory world is an important area of communication for our canine friends. Scents and smells govern the layout of a dog’s world, just like colors or visual cues do for us.

The nose of a dog itself carries many scents and rubbing their noses on surfaces is a way of leaving that scent there. It is also how dogs seek out the various kinds of olfactory information spread across their environments.

Aggressively sniffing the couch, therefore, might be a way to mark the territory or for gaining more information about who else sat there before. God forbid if the cat had been sitting on your dog’s spot!

Stress and Anxiety

A likely scenario is that your dog buries its head into the couch because it may be feeling stressed or anxious about something.

A couch that is full of cushions offers a comfortable and safe retreat from the world. As kids, when we did something bad, we would go hide in our rooms, right?

Similarly, your dog may be hiding its face in the couch to avoid you after having done something bad, like maybe it ate your freshly made lasagne that was supposed to be your lunch! In such a scenario, try to comfort your dog and assure it that everything is okay.

Chilly Season

Winter is so cold! We all like to snuggle up in our blankets and keep ourselves warm when that long-awaited summer is finally over.

Dogs have the luxury of fur that helps keep them warm in the coldest of circumstances. However, some dog breeds might have shorter or not enough fur on their bodies. Also, the nose is an important part that helps dogs in temperature regulation.

In this case, curling up on the couch and burying their snouts in their might be a posture that helps preserve heat and helps keep their bodies warm. If this is the case, just turn up the heat or join your furry friend in their nose burials.

Also Read: Why Do Dogs Lick Blankets?

Closing Thoughts

You have a special relationship with your dog and nobody will understand it as well as you do. Based on some of the paw-ssibilities stated above, we hope you can better determine why your dog is doing what it does. And don’t worry, this behavior is demonstrably very normal!

Whether it is the scent, a hidden toy, a convenient nose-scratcher, or a hiding place, the fact remains that the couch really brings the family together. You understand it, and maybe your dog understands it even better than you!