Why Do Dogs Hate Being Blown on the Face?

why do dogs hate being blown on

If you’ve ever blown onto your dog’s or nose, it’s quite likely that you’ve seen a negative reaction. Your dog might have looked upset, snapped at you, or even worse bitten you or a member of your family. But what is it about having air blown on their face that dog’s hate so much?

I decided to look into it some more, so can now present to you all the reasons why dogs hate being blown on so much, and even if it hurts them.

Why do dogs hate being blown on? Dogs hate being blown on because (a) it catches them by surprise, (b) it is not comfortable, (c) it can be misinterpreted as an aggressive act, and (d) their smell is so acute that they might even take exception to the smell of your breath!

Those are the reasons why blowing in a dog’s face is bad, but there’s more to it. Read on to understand it better and what you should do to make sure you don’t annoy or hurt your dog by blowing on them.

4 reasons why dogs hate being blown on

1. Blowing in your dog’s face shocks and surprises them

Most dogs expect humans to come up to them for positive reasons such as a quick pat on the head, being called a good boy, given a treat, or perhaps as the precursor for a fun walk.

They do not expect a sudden gust if air to come from a person into their face and up their nose!

It has an effect on their senses which is very uncomfortable. Doggy senses are far more developed than ours; the nose, eyes, and ears are all ultra-sensitive, meaning a little blow on the face is far more impactful to them compared how a human would find it… would you enjoy someone doing that to you suddenly?

dogs hate to be blown on
My dog doesn’t like it when I blow on his face but thankfully he’s not aggressive.

What happens then is that many dogs will instinctively react to being blown on by turning away or recoiling in shock.

You might also seem them doing what appears to be a quick lick of the air. This reflex action is very similar to how we blink when someone blows in our eye.

This reflex is them actually licking their nose. When you blow on a dog’s face it will quickly dry up the sensitive skin surface of the nose, so they have that reflex to lick it to reapply moisture.

2. Dogs don’t find close face to face contact comfortable

When you decide to blow on a dog’s face, it means you need to be very up close to them, right in their face, and invading their space. This will often result in a dog growling, snapping, barking, or even biting the person doing the blowing.

The reason dogs dislike having people so close to their faces, is that they find it intimidating and unpleasant. Many dogs have learned to tolerate it, but when you then also add in being blown on, it might just push that dog too far out of his comfort zone.

I’ve written about this behavior in more depth, in my guide to dog’s not liking it when you stare in their eyes. Some find it threatening, as I explain in the next point.

3. Dogs can misinterpret blowing on their face as a threat

Whilst you might think blowing on your dog’s face is funny, they won’t, and it can make some dogs angry and aggressive.

The reason why dogs hate being blown on in this point is how it can be misinterpreted as an act of aggression. It’s because when dogs blow out air and have puffed cheeks, this often the what happens before a fight.

You might have seen this before. When dogs first meet, often they will do the play bow in front of each other. But when things aren’t as playful, dogs can initially go nose to nose with air being blown out of their noses in little puffs.

While you know that you’re doing it in fun, your dog has no idea whether being blown on is something that might escalate into a much more dangerous situation.

It’s something they can respond to aggressively.

Handy Hint: Our dog also used to hate skateboards with a passion. Find out how we cured him of his skateboard fear in just 7 days.

4. Dogs might even find your breath smells too bad!

And lastly, and perhaps a little tongue in cheek, but I think there is some credence to why dogs hate you blowing on their face, is that they simply hate the smell of your breath!

It makes sense when you consider that dogs have 300 million olfactory receptors in their nose. This is what gives them such an amazing sense of smell, estimated to be 10,000 times more accurate than us humans.

blowing dogs face hurt them
This is what my dog thinks about the smell of my breath!

Whilst you might think that your breath has no discernible bad odors, it might not be the same for your dog!

Signs you dogs hates his face being blown on

You might see some subtle signs at first that you dog doesn’t like being blown on, or the first time might result in something more aggressive back at you.

Calming signals 

If your dog finds being blown on to be unpleasant but tolerable, then they will offer a whole range of body language to try to communicate that they’re not happy and to please stop. These can include:

  • Turning their head away.
  • Licking their lips.
  • Yawning.
  • Blinking.

If, however you keep on blowing at them and take no heed of their attempt to diffuse the situation, then they may need to take their response up to the next level.

Feeling threatened 

When a dog finds themselves in a situation where they have tried to tell you that they feel worried, but the threat hasn’t gone away, then their instinctual responses kick in.

This also happens when they find something so scary that they need it to stop right away. This means that they may respond in one of four ways:

  1. Fight: react in an aggressive way.
  2. Flight: run away.
  3. Freeze: stay perfectly still and hope the scary thing goes away.
  4. Fool around: act like a silly puppy in the hope that the frightening thing interprets them as no threat.

While we might hope that our dog picks from options 2 to 4, there’s a good likelihood that it is going to be option 1, to fight.

That choice of response is even more likely if you keep blowing on your dog when they have tried other options without success, such as trying to get away.

You see, from our dog’s perspective, being blown on could be the start of an aggressive attack, and so their response is to fight back. This may mean a growl or a snap or even a bite as they attempt to get the scary thing to stop.

It’s important to know that the growl and snap are a dog’s way of communicating that they really don’t like the situation that they find themselves in at the moment, and they find it pretty scary.

Now, if we heed those signs and stop blowing on them, then everything will calm back down.

But, if you ignore them and continue to do it, then there’s a pretty good chance that your dog will be left with no alternative than to escalate the situation to a bite.

This is very much a case of ‘don’t say I didn’t warn you!’

Does blowing in a dog’s face hurt them?

Blowing in dog’s face won’t hurt them. It is unlikely to be painful, but they might find it unpleasant and annoying. It has a huge impact on their sense of smell, sight, and hearing.

You’ll know from the work of police and detection dogs that our canines have an amazing sense of smell, which is thought to be thousands of times better than what humans are capable of.

So, when you blow into their face, they suddenly get an intense blast of your scent, which might be pretty overpowering!

Then, if you’ve ever had a puff of air go into your eye, you’ll know that it causes you to pull away and blink. While it didn’t hurt, it was unpleasant, even if you knew it was going to happen.

For our dogs who may be caught by surprise when you blow on their face or not, it’s no wonder that they may tell you in very strong terms that they really don’t like it!

Why does my dog not like me blowing raspberries?

Dogs often don’t like you blowing raspberries at them because the noise and sensation is so unpredictable to what they are used to. They can interpret it as a threat, similar to how blowing on their nose provokes a bad reaction.

For our poor dogs who are trying to work out all the weird and unpredictable things that us humans do, this is another situation where they have to make a judgment call.

Is that human blowing me a raspberry mean that we’re going to have a game?

Or does it mean that they’re mad with me?

Now, if it happened every day and you blew a raspberry then gave your dog a treat, it wouldn’t be long before they thought that raspberry blowing was the best thing ever!

But that’s not what we usually do.

Unusual and unpredictable situations are tough for our dogs, especially if they’re not able to get away from it.

This is why it’s so important always to supervise when dogs and children are together; something as innocent as blowing a raspberry could result in a situation where things start to escalate out of control quickly.

Can you blow-dry a dog safely?

In just the same way that being blown on and blowing raspberries at our dogs can cause them to want to get out of the way, a hairdryer can have just the same response.

If your dog has a coat that needs regular professional attention, then the chances are that they’ve become used to the warm air drying them off during their trips to the groomers.

But if this isn’t the situation and you suddenly find yourself with a soaking wet dog after a walk in the rain, then you might find that they are distinctly unimpressed with the idea of being blow-dried.

Tips for blow drying a dog without scaring them 

  • Towel dry first to get rid of most of the moisture from the coat.
  • Have your dog on a harness and lead so that they have some freedom of movement, but they’re not able to move too far away
  • Have a supply of great treats available; the chance to have something really tasty to eat can mean that they will tolerate being dried off.
  • Do remember to have the hairdryer on the lowest settings both for the power of the airflow and also for the warmth of the air.
  • Keep the hairdryer moving and at least 6 inches away from their skin to ensure that there is no risk of your dog’s skin becoming sore with the heat.

For those dogs who really dislike the sensation of a blown dry, then getting a toweling drying coat might be a much less stressful option for everyone!

Why do dogs like sticking their heads out of car windows then?

Now you understand why dogs hate being blown on, you likely thinking what the deal is with dogs sticking their heads out of car windows. Surely they would hate that even more right?

Well, actually no.

Dogs like sticking their head out of car window as it’s a different sensation. It’s not unexpected, is something that have control over, and is a constant stream of air with millions of different interesting scents coming at them.

In simple terms, it’s a smell utopia, or nirvana, that dogs can’t get enough of!

Conclusion

Imagine being transported to a new country where everyone speaks a different language, has different ways of doing things, and where their actions prove to be pretty unpredictable.

Welcome to what our dogs have to contend with living in the human world!

Our four-legged friends get to understand different words and will learn how to interpret our body language so we can get along with each other pretty well.

But, when a human does something which is totally out of the blue like blowing in their face, a dog has no idea of whether it’s a threat or a sign of affection. This puts them into a difficult situation.

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Marc Aaron

I write about the things I've learned about owning a dog, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips I've picked up along the way.

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