10 Reasons what does it mean when a dog licks your face
Have you ever wondered what it means when a dog licks your face? Though it may seem odd, it isn’t an uncommon behavior, and there are plenty of reasons why dogs might do this to the people they love. Take a look at the following list of 10 common reasons why dogs lick the faces of their human companions, and if you have any other ideas, add them in the comments!
1) Because she loves you
Dogs lick their owners, and they love it when we pet them. While some people say dogs lick their humans to assert dominance or because they’re hungry (and therefore hoping for food), many experts argue that dogs lick people because they like it. And why wouldn’t they?
Dogs have more than 20,000 taste buds—about 1,000 more than us—so there’s no wonder why they love our tasty-looking faces. Can you blame them? Just don’t let dogs lick other dogs: It can cause nasty diseases spread through bodily fluids. Their saliva is also pretty gross: Scientists call bacterial countess, which is a fancy way of saying lots of gross bacteria.
2) Because he misses you
Dogs form close bonds with their owners, and they miss you when you’re gone. Licking is a great way to show love. Why not show that you love him back? Dogs can’t speak, but most are clever enough to find a way to let you know how much they care about you!
When he’s excited: Maybe he’s just heard that famous news flash: You’re home! Your pup is overcome with excitement; what better way to express it than by kissing his favorite human? And for some dogs, there’s no such thing as too much physical affection – even from humans!
3) Because he is asking for attention
A dog may lick your face when he wants you to pay attention to him. Paying attention could mean feeding, petting, or bathing him (if he hates baths). If you can read his body language, you’ll usually know if a dog is trying to get something from you or if it is showing affection.
For example, do his ears perk up, and are his eyes wide open? If yes, then he’s probably excited to see you and is simply trying to get something. If not, then maybe he’s being affectionate with a specific type of kiss. Dogs have scent glands in their mouths so they can leave their taste mark on people they like.
4) To get your scent on him
Dogs lick people as a form of communication. If you go to someone else’s house and their dogs are barking, growling, and showing their teeth, that’s usually a sign that they don’t know or trust you yet. You can reduce any tension by letting them smell your scent in advance—and what better way than to let them lick you?
Dogs recognize each other (and humans) by how we smell; licking is how they get our scent. So when one licks your face while you’re sleeping, they may just be doing it because they can tell it’s time for bed—or simply because it’s comforting!
5) To clean you off
While humans aren’t fond of having their faces slathered with drool, it’s quite another story for dogs. The act is one of affection and love, in that they want to make sure you smell as good as they do! Dogs use scent glands on their muzzles to leave a unique smell (one reason why your pup wants you to sniff her head), so when she licks you, she’s just leaving her scent behind.
This happens particularly often when dogs greet people—it’s a sign of respect. It also sends out an important social cue: I like being near you. Many experts believe that dogs have inherited from wolves a natural inclination to lick things that are dangerous or different—and we humans are both!
6) He knows where you have been eating and wants to check out the competition
Did you eat a hamburger for lunch? Dogs often like that taste and try to sneak some of it off your chin. And if you’ve eaten popcorn for dinner, he may want to check that out too. Onions are also considered yummy by many dogs, so if you had onions in it, say French onion soup, he may come over and give your cheeks a few licks.
It just feels good: Some dogs have learned that when they lick their owner’s faces, they get rewarded with attention or treats.
7) He wants to see if you are okay
Licking doesn’t mean that a dog loves you, but there are some reasons why dogs lick people. And surprisingly, it’s usually not what we expect: While most people think a dog licks its owner to show affection, it isn’t always true.
This is especially true for puppies who may sometimes lick their owners out of sheer curiosity. After all, having someone around who feeds you and plays with you is pretty amazing!
How many times have you wanted to do something with someone else just because they happened to feed you a snack? Licking also means hello! or I’m here! If a puppy meets another puppy or person, he doesn’t know very well.
8) He’s smelled something interesting on you and needs a closer look
Dog noses have over 220 million olfactory receptors in them, making them up to 10,000 times more sensitive than ours. If a scent comes across their path that they don’t recognize, they’ll likely lean in to get a closer sniff because it’s an essential part of learning about new things.
So when you take a step back from your dog, and he follows you with his head leaning towards you on an excellent sniffing — he’s not being pushy or trying to dominate you. He wants to learn more about who you are and what makes up part of your unique scent signature. A lot of dogs will do this upon meeting other dogs as well!
9) Something feels strange on his tongue
Many dogs, especially young ones, experience a sort of sensory overload when they taste something new. While they may not like it at first, once they realize that nothing happens to them—it doesn’t hurt or make them sick—they tend to overcome their initial aversion and learn to like what was bothering them.
So if your dog is licking you from time to time, don’t worry too much about it; they are probably just trying out different tastes and smells with his tongue. To read more about how dogs experience things differently from humans and why that makes sense for dogs and other animals, check out Dog Senses.
10) He’s picked up on emotion from you (good or bad), and licking transfers those emotions back to you, making him happy.
Like a baby, dogs learn from watching what you do. Licking your face is a way of calming you down if you’re upset or making you feel better if you’re anxious. If a friend slaps someone in front of him, for example, he’ll lick that person’s face to console them—and show his disapproval at what happened.
This behavior is called emotional contagion, and it shows that dogs have an emotional repertoire similar to ours (remember when we said dogs empathize with us? It’s true). They can tell how we feel, and they can even react accordingly. Just remember: When your puppy licks your face, he’s expressing his emotions based on how he thinks we’re feeling!