Why Do Dogs Rub Their Heads in the Grass?

by Rob Hainer
    Your nose knows whether his grass rubbing means he found something stinky.

    Your nose knows whether his grass rubbing means he found something stinky.

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    When your hands are otherwise occupied, your pooch might still need relief from itching around his mouth and ears. Grass offers some friction while still feeling soft, making it an ideal choice to help scratch his head. When Spot rubs his pate in the grass, check him for a few minor health problems, but don't be surprised if you find none -- he might just be rubbing on some of nature's cologne.

    Something Smelly This Way Comes

    Dogs have powerful noses that lead them to all kinds of smelly items, including dead animals or the poop of nearby wildlife. The ick factor comes in when your pup decides to rub his head in that smelly mess. This behavior is an instinctual holdover from his ancestors' wilder days. Smelling like prey -- even if it's prey's poop -- means he has a better chance of sneaking up on his next meal.


    Your pup's allergies can stem from many sources, including food, pollen and household chemicals. These can make his skin itchy, especially around his eyes and ears. With food allergies, it might be his mouth that feels funny. To alleviate these odd feelings and itchiness, your dog might rub his head in the grass. This is gentler on his skin than scratching with his hind claws, and it gets more area at once. If you suspect allergies, see your vet to help determine the cause and proper treatment.

    Mites and Other Creepy Crawlies

    Ear mites hide inside your dog's ears and can cause massive itching, discomfort and irritation. Your pooch probably scratches his ears often with his hind feet to help relieve the itching, but it might not be enough. Check his ears for redness or tiny scabs if you suspect mites, and get some meds from your vet. Also, look for signs of fleas or insect bites, such as from mosquitoes or spiders. If your dog was stung on the face by a bee or wasp, he could be trying to alleviate the pain by rubbing his head in the grass.


    Scratching his face and ears, even a little bit, can open up tiny holes in the skin and allow bacteria to enter. This can lead to a painful infection that causes your dog to rub his head on the grass looking for a little relief. Check for red or swollen skin on his face and in his ears or some discharge from his ears. Your vet can prescribe the proper treatment for bacterial and yeast infections.

    Photo Credits

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    About the Author

    Rob Hainer began writing and editing for newspapers in 1992. He began his career as a photojournalist in the Army, and studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He worked as a copy editor and reporter at "The Marietta Daily Journal," the "Spartanburg Herald-Journal" and the "New Haven Register."

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