Why Does My Dog Rub Himself Along the Sides of the Couch As He Walks Past?

Your dog's couch-rubbing may have a simple explanation.
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Most dog owners would probably admit that something their dog does on or around furniture drives them nuts. But if Fido continually rubs on the couch as he walks by, or wears a hole in the floor by the couch to do just that, rule out some concerns before you assume it's just a quirk.

Dry Skin

Your dog's furniture rubbing fetish may be a result of dry skin. Look for signs of dandruff, biting, rashes and excessive scratching to confirm your suspicions, then eliminate the cause -- which may not be as easy as it sounds. A dog's skin can react to the drier air of winter, food or seasonal allergies, chemicals in grooming products, flea bites, parasites and infections such as mange. If you haven't recently changes his food or shampoo, a trip to the vet may be in order to rule out more serious issues.

Scent Marking

While dogs are known for urinating to mark their territory to other dogs, rubbing their scent over carpet and furniture, such as your couch, is a comforting way to make the house smell like home. Older dogs trained to not urinate inside may choose this route to stake out territory in a household where other dogs reside, or a new puppy has been introduced. Glands near the tail produce their scent; they may rub it on the carpet, roll in it and then distribute on the furniture as they walk by.

Hidden Pain

Your dog may be rubbing on the couch as a sign of stress or pain, especially if he is older. While other signs of injury or illness are more obvious -- lack of appetite, vomiting, sneezing or coughing, hair loss, sudden weight changes, stool or urine changes -- some issues may not cause outward signs. Run your hands over your dog to look for sore spots or lumps. Observe his body language -- is he tucking in his tail or putting his ears back? Panting? Licking his lips or even yawning excessively? A call to the vet may be in order.


If nothing is wrong with your dog's health, then he's probably just rubbing on the furniture because it feels good. Dogs love physical contact -- hence the requests for belly rubs and chin scratches -- and he may be doing this during the day while everyone is gone to satisfy that need. Many dogs like to rub on furniture after a bath, as well, when they are still wet. It can become a harmless habit. If you're tired of vacuuming dog hair from the couch, however, perhaps giving your dog some additional hands-on affection will deter him from creating his own sensory fulfillment.