Why do dogs nuzzle their nose in blankets?

According to some pet experts, dogs are “denning” animals: It is a dog’s instinct to sleep or relax in a small and protected space to feel warm and safe.

This explains why many dogs actually prefer their crates when left alone at home or to sleep in at night.

Give your dog a comfy, sturdy bed with a couple of towels or small blankets to burrow in, and they will do what comes naturally.


Does Every Dog Burrow?

Small-prey hunters, like terriers and Dachshunds, tend to mimic their innate behavior of flushing out small animals from tunnels by burrowing.

Larger burrowers, like Huskies, live in extreme temperatures that make the instinct to burrow under the snow crucial for staying warm.

Stil other dogs enjoy burrowing, too — regardless of their breed.

Burrowing can also be a sign of hunting behavior. Dogs also like to bury things for later, such as a bone or toy.


If your dog’s burrowing seems obsessive, try to observe if anxiety is triggering it and find ways to ease the anxiety causing the activity.

Is your pet being left alone for long stretches of time? If so, hire a dog walker or give your dog more exercise and things to occupy them when nothing else is going on.

Take your pet to the veterinarian for a checkup to make sure they’re in top health. You can also find certified dog trainers or behaviorists.


Check out this video of a little Dachshund digging his way to a comfortable sleeping position:

My Dog’s Digging Ritual

Every night when I turn out the light to go to sleep, I hear the rustling sound of Lenny, my terrier-mix rescue dog, burrowing in the blankets.

He was with me for a few months before he started tunneling under the covers, but now it’s a nightly ritual.

He digs and turns and noses under his bed for a couple of minutes before circling around a few times and finally settling into his curlicue sleeping position.

Lenny seems to enjoy his nightly ritual, and once he finds the right spot and has his bed the way he likes it, he sleeps happily through the night right next to my own bed.

Whether it be under the blanket, your arm, or the bed sheets, there are several reasons dogs bury their heads. This behavior could be because of stress, fear, weather, sleep, or even empathy. Some dogs also like to bury their heads under something when they’re in a playful mood.

Has your dog ever buried their nose into your side? Or maybe you had a blanket on your lap and they decided to burrow their head under the blanket? As odd as this behavior may seem, it’s completely normal and something nearly every dog does.

If you’re wondering what those reasons are, here are the seven most common reasons dogs bury their heads.

What You'll Learn

  • 1 They Enjoy The Scent
  • 2 Survival Instincts From Puppy Years
  • 3 Cold Weather
  • 4 Imitating Their Owners Sleeping Rituals
  • 5 Empathy
  • 6 Demonstrations of Power
  • 7 Marking Their Territory
  • 8 How to Respond
    • 8.1 Encouraging Your Dog
  • 9 Is it Safe?
  • 10 How to Know Why YOUR Dog is Burying Their Head

They Enjoy The Scent

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell. In fact, their sense of smell is how they explore the world. So when your dog enjoys the scent of something, they may bury their head to enjoy the scent even more.

Although less common, some dogs will burrow under the arms of someone they just met. This is their way of getting to “know” the smell of this new person.

Survival Instincts From Puppy Years

When newborn puppies feed, they bury their heads into their mothers stomach. This instinct may continue later in life when they get hungry. This could be the dog’s way of saying “I want some food.”

Cold Weather

Short-haired dog breeds (such as pugs and boxers) have a tendency to get cold quickly. As a response, they may bury their head (and sometimes body) into their owner or a blanket in an attempt to warm their body temperature.

In the wild, packs of dogs also learned to huddle against one another to survive harsh winter months. Although your dog is no longer out in the wild, the instinct to “huddle up” is still there when they get cold.

Imitating Their Owners Sleeping Rituals

Studies are starting to show that dogs pick up on their owners behavior and sometimes imitate their humans. Dogs who have watched their owners curl up under the covers before bed might imitate this behavior and bury themselves under a blanket when going to sleep.


It has also been presumed that dogs can understand and tune into human emotion. Service dogs are a great example of what it means to tune into their owners’ needs.

Some dogs will try to relate to your emotions. If they sense you’re feeling sad, they might “feel sad” with you. In some instances this would be portrayed by burying their head.

Demonstrations of Power

During interactions with other dogs, your pet may gently nudge the other to show submission. In a more aggressive fashion, this can be seen as a show of dominance.

Dog’s may do this to their owner as well.Burying their head into you as you try to walk past them, followed by barking or growling, can be your dog’s way of trying to show their dominance.

Marking Their Territory

Dogs like to mark up territory with their scent. When we think of a dog “marking their territory”, we often think about them urinating on the spots they’re claiming.

However, dogs also carry a lot of scent on their faces. When a dog is burying their head into you, it may be marking you as their territory to show other animals your affiliation to them. This is more common in male dogs as they have a greater desire to claim dominance and ownership over people or other dogs.

How to Respond

While it may seem reasonable to reciprocate the hugging and cuddling, doing so can actually cause a lot of stress for your dog. They may become uncomfortable if you nuzzle them back. They are instinctually driven to be able to run to protect themselves, so if they feel unable to move, this can cause anxiety.

Encouraging Your Dog

Instead of making them feel restrained, you can make your pup feel safe by rewarding them with small pats or treats when they nuzzle into you. Paying close attention to the reactions they have to what you’re doing can help you gauge what they like and dislike as all animals are different.

One dog may enjoy having their body wrapped in between their owner’s arms while another may enjoy burrowing for safety but feel on edge when an arm or blanket is draped over them.

Is it Safe?

Things can get a bit dangerous for dogs that are “excessive burrowers”. They might bury themselves under multiple layers of blankets and get stuck. Unfortunately, if the dog is unable to escape, they may suffocate.

This isn’t a big deal when you’re home and able to watch your dog because you can help pull the blankets off them. However, when you’re away, it would be a smart idea to make sure all the blankets are out of reach.

This is especially important for brachycephalic dogs (dogs with a short nose such as boxers) because they naturally have breathing issues. If you notice your dog panting or drooling excessively or their pulse is racing, remove the blankets immediately and monitor them for further issues.

For the most part, dogs do a good job at regulating their own temperature and know when they need to escape the heat, so letting them decide when they need more or less warmth can help your animal stay safe.

How to Know Why YOUR Dog is Burying Their Head

We went over seven reasons dogs bury their heads, but how do you know which of the seven reasons applies to your dog? Is your dog showing signs of affection? Are they trying to leave their scent? Are they being aggressive?

It can be hard to know exactly what your dog is trying to tell you in the moment, but paying attention to the rest of their body language and being aware of the situation can help solve the mystery.

For example, when meeting someone new, a dog might bury their head into this person because they like their scent. If your dog buries their head into you at the dog park, it might be because they are letting all the other dogs know you belong to them. If your dog is burrowing under a blanket on a cold day, they’re most likely just trying to stay warm.

Dogs have limits in how they can communicate with humans, so it takes a conscious effort to tune into the signals they are providing for us to tell whether they anxious, curious, or simply looking to be close to us.

Why does my dog bury her nose in a blanket?

Feeling stressed or scared can result in a dog hiding their face. While your dog is smart enough to know their paws aren't big enough to hide them from the object of their fear, covering their face is their way of communicating that they're upset.

Why do dogs snort into blankets?

They may snort for attention, because they feel frustrated, because they want to play, or even out of hunger. If your dog's snorting seems to be telling you something, this is probably the cause.

Why does my dog cover things with her nose?

They are part of instinctive behavior related to saving food and hoarding treats for another day. All sorts of dogs will go out and bury their food and cover their hidden treats with their noses. This is a direct natural behavior handed down the ancestral line through wolves and remembered by our dogs today.

Why does my dog cover her face when sleeping?

By covering their faces, dogs are protecting their eyes and throat. Although it is the least vulnerable sleep position, it also is the least restful way for dogs to sleep. Although the position lets dogs conserve body heat and protect limbs, face, throat, and vital organs, dogs remain tense.