Why Do Dogs Lick Your Face?

Licking is an instinctive canine behavior that dogs use to communicate with people and other animals. When your dog licks your face, he could be trying to send you a message, gather information about you, keep you clean, or he may simply enjoy the pleasurable sensation of licking.

Dogs are innately pack animals that follow an established social order. Wild dogs use face licking to communicate respect for and submission to their pack leader.

Like their wolf ancestors, wild dogs lick the pack leaders face as a way of begging for food. Dogs have special receptors in the nose and mouth which they use to process and interpret the scented molecules found in human sweat. The act of licking releases pleasurable endorphins in dogs and often gives them a sense of comfort and security.

Is it good for a dog to lick your face?

Not entirely. “When dog saliva touches intact human skin, especially in a healthy person, it is extremely unlikely to cause any problems, as there will be very little absorption through the skin,” Dr. … Kaplan said it was best to avoid having your dog lick those parts of your face.

Are dog licks really kisses?

“In general, if a dog licks you, they are showing affection. However, if the dog licks someone who is agitated or excited this could be a symptom of stress. By licking that person, they are trying to relieve their stress because they know this is a welcome gesture. … Other dogs simply want to kiss everyone they meet!

Do dogs lick you because they love you?

Affection: There’s a pretty good chance that your dog is licking you because it loves you ! … Licking is a natural action for dogs. They learned it from the grooming and affection given to them as puppies by their mothers. Dogs might lick your face if they can get to it.

Why do dogs lick your face when you lay down?

Well, apart from greeting you with a “good morning” or “hello,” dogs will lick your face simply because… they like the way you taste. Your skin secretes sweat and oil during sleep and your pup may become very drawn to the taste of salty skin. So he jumps right at your face, trying to shower you with his affection.

Dogs cant communicate with words the way you do, but they do use body language to talk to you. One of the behaviors your dog may use involves licking, especially licking your face. If youve ever wondered why your dog licks your face, the roots of the behavior run deep.

If you are a healthy adult and your furbaby gets plenty of attention and preventive care from the vet, including regular dewormers, youre probably safe. If youre worried, turn away so your dog cant get your mouth and nose and talk to your vet about any concerns.

Dogs have a lot of strange habits, and if your pooch spends more time giving you kisses than playing with their toys or chasing squirrels, youve probably wondered to yourself, What does it mean when a dog licks you? Here are some other reasons behind your dogs weird behavior.

Of course, if you happen to have a little food, lotion, or salty sweat on your skin, that may play a role as well. Along with affection, these are some other things your dog actually wants from you . Dog licking doesnt pose much of a danger to people as long as you dont have any open wounds and your immune system is functioning well, says Dr. Coates.

Whats better than coming home to a kiss from a happy pup? Most dog owners interpret licks from their dogs as a sign of affection. In other words, the closest your canine companion can get to kissing. But is this accurate? And what can you do if your dogs licking is out of control?

Horowitz adds that if your dog likes to lick your face, it will often happen after youve finished a delicious meal. If your dog is licking themselves, you, or objects excessively, to the point that it seems like a self-stimulatory behavior, this might be a sign of anxiety , boredom, or pain.

Trick training , in particular, is a good way to turn a repeated undesirable behavior into an opportunity for positive reinforcement. Start by simply having the dog sit, which might stop the licking on its own, then reward the behavior with a treat .

Affection

Your dog loves you. Licking to show affection is a functional behavior that puppies learn from their mother and littermates. Maternal licking and licking among littermates helps strengthen family bonds. A dog licking your face is expressing his affection for you and trying to strengthen the familial bond he has with you.

Respect

Your dog respects you. Dogs are innately pack animals that follow an established social order. Wild dogs use face licking to communicate respect for and submission to their pack leader. When your dog licks your face, he may be communicating that he acknowledges you as the dominant pack leader.

Hunger

Your dog is hungry. Dogs sometimes use licking to communicate that they are hungry. Puppies lick their mothers’ lips to stimulate a regurgitation reflex so they can eat the food their mothers vomit. Like their wolf ancestors, wild dogs lick the pack leader’s face as a way of begging for food. If your dog licks your face around feeding time, he may be letting you know that he is ready to eat.

Gather Information

Your dog is curious about how you are feeling. Dogs have special receptors in the nose and mouth which they use to process and interpret the scented molecules found in human sweat. By licking your face, your dog may be able to determine whether you are happy or feeling stressed.

Grooming

Your dog wants to make sure you are clean. Dogs naturally lick to clean themselves or their littermates. If your dog licks your face often, he may be grooming you to help keep you clean.

Taste

Your dog thinks you taste good. Human sweat has a salty taste that some dogs enjoy. When your dog licks your face, he may simply be enjoying the saltiness of your skin.

Pleasure

Your dog likes to lick. The act of licking releases pleasurable endorphins in dogs and often gives them a sense of comfort and security. Your dog may lick your face simply because it feels good.

Is Licking a Dog’s Way Of Kissing?

The jury is out on what a dog’s licking actually means. Believe it or not, what you interpret as affection might, in fact, be your dog encouraging you to throw up your lunch for them.“Researchers of wild canids — wolves, coyotes, foxes, and other wild dogs — report that puppies lick the face and muzzle of their mother when she returns from a hunt to her den — in order to get her to regurgitate for them,” notes Alexandra Horowitz, head of the Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College and author of the bookSimilarly, your dog could simply think thatBut, there is also evidence that licking is sometimes a sign of affection. Horowitz points out that, although it started as a food-seeking behavior, licking has now become a ritualized greeting for many dogs. Some wild species in the dog family will lick pack members just to welcome them home. So, those daily slobbers really might just be a sign that your dog is happy to see you.“Licking can be a sign of affection,” explains Dr. Burch. “It might also give a dog a feeling of security and comfort, just as the dog had when licked by its mother in the litter.”

When Is Licking a Problem?

Most licking is harmless, even welcome as a form of self-expression on the dog’s part. Burch notes that there’s no need to worry that it’s a form of domination — in fact, it’s quite the opposite.“One theory is the licking is a sign of submission,” she says. “The idea is that dogs who are submissive will lick a more dominant member of the pack.”Even so, there are some scenarios when you might want to head off a slobber fest from your pup. The first relates to human comfort, that is, some people simply don’t like being licked. If you have a germaphobic friend who cringes every time your dog approaches, it’s kinder to dog and friend alike to redirect the behavior.But sometimes licking is a symptom of a more serious problem. If your dog is licking themselves, you, or objects excessively, to the point that it seems like a self-stimulatory behavior, this might be a sign of anxiety, boredom, or pain. Obsessive self-licking can also be a sign of allergies or other health problems.