Over and over again dog parents are told by friends and family that we shouldn’t be letting our dogs lick our face. Some people think it is gross, unnecessary and even going to far. That is why it is such a controversial topic that comes up often. When the conversation does come up, it makes me wonder why does my lick my face and why do I let him?
What Is the reason I let him lick my face. Is it my need to smother my dog in constant love and kisses. I go so overboard, that my dog then does his part to reciprocate the affection.
Well let’s look at some main reasons that dogs lick your face.
The first and most common reason that your dog will lick your face is for love or affection. Dogs are very emotional and feeling creatures, so they can sense people’s emotions. They respond to your emotions by licking your face as a way of showing you they feel you.
Puppies are taught early on from their mothers, that being licked is a sign of nurture and care. It also helps them create that bond with their mother and with their siblings. Litter mates often lick each other, which they learn from their mother. Puppies that do experience lots maternal love from their mother, will have a positive effect on them when they are older. They are a more resilient dogs and at times less reactive to stress.
So if your dog licks your face, it is a way of them strengthening the bond between you as member of their family.
Although many of us dog parents enjoy the love licks, there are some that are least enthusiastic about it. This licking is the #1 type of licking that dog parents wish they could change in their dog.
If you have been following my posts, you will remember that in my post about why your dog paws you, I said that dogs will exhibit this behaviour as a way of communicating with you. Well licking is a similar type behaviour to the pawing. It can mean many meanings.
Your dog could be trying to tell you they are:
- Saying I respect you
- Gathering information about you
- To get your attention that something is wrong
A dog may also lick your face simply because you are communicating to them that your are under stress. In their minds if they lick you, it will help reduce that stress. So basically you are talking to each other through actions and emotions that are part of your family bond.
Oops what’s on my face
The most obvious and funny reasons for a dog to lick our faces is there is something on it. Yup, that simple.
Many times when we are eating, we may have something on our face and not even realize it. Maybe it’s a piece of food, or drink that has been left behind. Right away your dog uses his amazing nose and sniffs it out and dives in for the quick lick for the crumb.
If it is not a piece of food, maybe you just put some nice face cream on your face. Plenty of dogs love to lick any type of lotion on your body, and your face is no exception. I am guessing it smells good is smooth and soft. But I just can’t imagine that it tastes good, so this one has me baffled.
They can also lick your face simply because you are sweating. Of course as we know, sweat tastes salty, so your dog may lick to get that salt off your face. I guess it’s easier than a napkin! HAHA!
The other thing that you could have on your face is a cut or wound. Dogs are notorious for being able to sense or sniff out an injury. They may even lick your wounds as a way of trying to heal you. There is even some evidence that it could help if they clean the wound. No matter the science says , in my experince dogs do tend to lick an injury.
FINNEGAN was my dog for over 11 years and one of his many nicknames was “Dr. Finnegan”. He was that dog, that could find a cut on you in seconds. A few shorts licks on the cut and you were good to go. It truly was the cutest thing. But that is just me.
Any time your dog exhibits behaviour that is considered compulsive is a behaviour we don’t want. Compulsive licking can be a real issue in many dogs. Now the reason for our dogs to behave this way can be various.
Sometimes it can be a sign of teeth or mouth issues that your dog is experiencing.
Our dog BOO was the worst for the compulsive face licking. Now in his case, 2 separate times in his life, he did have teeth issues that needed surgery. After the surgery, the face licking of course was much better, because he was feeling better. Unfortunately his compulsion to lick your face never completely disappeared.
Now the tough part with compulsive face licking, is sometimes it can be a sign of a real problem with your dog. People always assume that it is just a silly thing that has no real meaning, so because of that, the signs your dog is sending you get missed.
Things like high stress, anxiety and even your dog acting scared are some things your dog could be experiencing. So for this reason, it is important to monitor your dogs behaviour for other indications that your dog is unhealthy. When you suspect something is up with your dog, I always recommend taking your dog to the Vet.