Some dogs rub their faces in the grass--and in weeds, gardens, bushes and flowers. The behavior is inherited from their ancestors, and the activity serves several purposes. For example, some dogs rub their faces after they have eaten; doing so gets the extra food off their faces and gums.
If the dog does not have grass available, the carpet or couch cushion can suffice. Like people use a toothbrush, some dogs want their teeth and gums clean. It is not so much a hygiene issue, as a way to get rid of an itch. Food stuck to the gums and mouth bother the dog, and he aims to get rid of it. Food particles and bits of chew bones can become trapped around the teeth and gums and can irritate the dog.
Allergies Play a Part
Another cause for the grass rubbing is allergies. If the dog is sensitive to some of the ingredients in its food, or to something in the table scraps it eats, it might rub its face in the grass in an attempt to get rid of the itching sensation in its mouth. In this case, a visit to the veterinarian could confirm an allergy. A change in food, and in some cases allergy medicine, can solve the problem.
Time For a Good Roll
Some dogs simply like the smell and taste of grass. They roll in it, rub up against it and devour it. Tall, scratchy grass is attractive because it feels good against their faces. In addition, grass that is scented with all manner of interesting things--including dead birds, night crawlers and the like--gives a dog an opportunity to pick up an odor. Some dogs rub against smelly things to pick up that scent. Behaviorists believe it is instinct, the dog's drive to mask its own odor. Rubbing also puts their scent on the grass, marking the territory.
Dogs can go overboard with rubbing in the grass. Dogs that lack activities and challenges can start a behavior like grass-rubbing and take it to the extreme. To bring the love affair with grass into moderation, a dog owner needs to provide another activity outlet, such as playing, providing more toys or going for walks.
Itching For Relief
In some cases, fleas are the culprit. A dog intent on rubbing its face in the lawn, as well as the rest of its body, might be infested with fleas. The dog rubs to literally scratch the itch, and pet owners should check around the dog's head and mouth for traces of fleas and treat accordingly.