Every dog licks their owner. Even the most well-trained dogs will lick their owner as a sign of affection or to soothe them. Licking is a natural and intuitive behavior, too. Dogs lick to grab your attention, clean you, or empathise with your feelings.
But why exactly does your dog lick you? What are some reasons for this? Let’s take a look:
Some people find it gross when dogs lick them, especially if their dog’s breath stinks!
However, as long as you are a reasonably healthy person, you don’t have open wounds, and your dog doesn’t have too many gross habits, it should be fine to allow your pooch to lick you – just not on the face, too much!
So, why do dogs lick?
Licking is an instinctive behavior for many animals, including dogs. Just like cats, dogs lick themselves to keep clean and groom themselves, as well as to bond with other pooches or just to express the way they’re feeling.
If your dog licks you, it could be a way of getting your attention, showing you empathy, of soothing themselves if something’s bothering them, expressing that they love you, or simply because you taste delicious!
Yes! People who research wild dogs like foxes, wolves, coyotes and more uncovered that pups in the wild lick their mother’s face as she returns to the den from a hunt.
Why? Well, it’s thought that the puppies are asking their mother to regurgitate for them. Could your dog be asking you to do this?!
Or, perhaps your dog thinks you taste nice. After all, humans do have slightly salty skin, especially after exercise.
So, don’t be surprised if your dog licks you after a big workout. They may not be giving you post-workout empathy. It might lick your face after a tasty meal or snack for a similar reason.
If this bothers you, try washing your face after every meal or showering after exercise. However, with the canine nose being up to 100,000 times better than our own, it’s nigh on impossible to wash away those delicious scents your pup loves!
Maybe it’s a sign of love?
Another reason the pups in the wild lick their mothers when they come back into the den is simply to welcome them back home. Licking also gives a dog a sense of comfort and security.
Licking an object helps a dog to fall asleep faster, for example. So, if your dog licks you when you come back in the door, they may show you love.
Again, if your dog licks you in the morning, this is nothing to worry about. Licking you when you wake up is probably a combination of the things we have mentioned above.
Not only do your morning breath and scent seem delicious to your pooch, but your dog is also happy to see you again after a long night of dreaming about rabbits, walkies, and fetch.
If your dog licks you, it may be for one of the completely benign reasons that we’ve just discussed.
Your pooch may just be looking for comfort, wanting to express their love and appreciation of you, or might be appreciating your flavor! However, dogs can sometimes lick for less great reasons.
Sometimes, dogs lick constantly. Whether they’re licking you or something else, excessive licking like this may signal a few negative things. Pain, anxiety, and boredom are all possibilities. If they are scared, your dog might come over and lick your arm while sitting in your lap.
This could be because of noise, maybe from the TV, or even a storm. They may lick you to communicate that they are in pain and to comfort themselves. Or your pooch could be bored and just lick for something to do.
If you’re playing and your dog starts licking you, look at the rest of their body language. Your dog may be showing you submission if they are also lying down. They could feel threatened and scared, but they could be playing, too.
Does your dog lick you more than anyone else? If so, take it as a compliment! It sees you as the one who gives them the best pets, ear scratches, or tummy rubs. Or, perhaps it’s because you taste most pleasing to them. Whatever the reason, it’s clear your dog loves you!
Should my dog lick my face?
Is it gross if your dog licks your face? Your pooch may certainly have filthy habits that you do not know about. Your dog’s mouth is indeed full of bacteria, too. Plus, their saliva might even contain parasites!
However, most bacteria associated with your dog cannot harm you. Therefore, the chance of you becoming unwell from your dog licking your face is minute. Nonetheless, you can’t deny that you don’t know where your dog’s snout has been! So, it’s worth considering training your dog not to lick your face.
Though it can be cute when your dog rushes to greet you after a long day at work or school, it can lick you too much.
Maybe your dog could knock you over while licking or jumping up to lick you, or you just want to move on to something else. So what can you do if you want your dog to stop licking?
Sometimes, the easiest thing to do is stand up or move away from your dog. For example, if your dog is in your lap, you could place them on the floor.
If your dog is very excited, you might like to put them in the crate or bed to calm down. Alternatively, you could move away or even leave the room.
You could also redirect your dog’s behavior. For example, a puzzle toy could be a good idea if your dog is bored or hungry – food toys are a great way to keep your pooch stimulated for a long time.
You could even freeze some peanut butter or yogurt for your dog to give them something to lick for a lengthy period. If you have time, you could also tire your dog out with some fetch or tug of war. They definitely won’t lick you, then!
Otherwise, it’s a good idea to understand why your dog is licking. If you know your dog is licking you to greet you, why not change how you welcome each other? Every day when you come home, you could ask your dog to sit and give you their paw.
You could also get them to lie down and crawl towards you or weave through your legs. If your pooch is particularly excited, you could go through the entire gamut of tricks together!