Why Does My Dog Lick My Face?
Posted on August 12, 2013 by Joy of Living No comments
Dogs can mean a lot of different things when they lick. Licking is a form of communication for dogs, as well as something dogs use for grooming and eating.
Licking begins in puppyhood. A mother dog licks her pups to stimulate them when they’re first born. Licking encourages their circulation, it rouses them, removes the membrane covering them when they’re first born, and stimulates them to nurse. Later, she will lick them to encourage their bowel movements and to wash them.
As they get older, puppies lick their mothers (and other adult dogs) around the lips to try to stimulate them to regurgitate partially digested food for them. This is normal for wolves and wild dogs, but domesticated dogs can do it, too. This behavior — licking a mother figure around the face — may be retained later in life. Is this why dogs try to lick people around the face? In some cases this could be true.
As communication, puppies will lick around the faces of their elders to show their submission. A dog may lick their owner’s face for the same reason.
Dogs sometimes engage in licking behavior out of nervousness or feelings of anxiety. Licking may help to relieve the nervousness. A dog may lick as a way to try to appease someone higher in the pack and may include their owner. If your dog is nervous or anxious, or fears that he has made you angry, he may try to lick around your face as a way to make up with you.
Dogs can also lick people as a way of getting attention. Like other behaviors, licking can be learned and become a habit if you reinforce it. For instance, if your dog licks you and you think it’s cute, you may laugh or pet your dog. This will encourage your dog to lick you again in the future because he’s getting positive attention (or any attention) for performing this behavior. If your dog is very socially bold he may become very pushy about this behavior and try to lick your face whenever he feels like it. It can be difficult to break this habit once it gets started.
Some dogs can lick things compulsively. This licking is usually directed at their own grooming but it can also include things such as woodwork or furniture. In some cases it may also include the owner. Dogs may lick toes, feet, hands and faces in a compulsive way. You may need to talk to your veterinarian for advice and work on changing your dog’s behavior.
Dogs may lick someone’s face for a lot of different reasons depending on the individual dog. If you want the behavior to stop, try to figure out what’s motivating your dog. Is he nervous? Is the licking a habit? Is he trying to get attention? Once you know why your dog is licking you, then you can work on what to do about the behavior.
Photo Source: istockphoto.com andresr