Why Does Your Dog Lick Your Face?

Why Does Your Dog Lick Your Face?

5 minutes read

Dogs are the best of pets and for many of us, this is the truth. Dogs are indeed lovable and they love their owners profoundly as well. They fill our lives with joy and keep us fascinated and delighted with their antics and tricks. There is no alternative to a dog’s love and this four-legged canine will always be by your side and will love you unconditionally.

Many actions are associated with a dog’s adoration towards its master. One of the most prominent and known ones is the dog’s licking of its owner’s face. Some of you might think that it is cute but then again some consider this to be strange. You might have noticed that your dog starts licking your face when you arrive home from a trip or the office. So, what exactly is that the dog wants to accomplish or articulate through this act? Now, we are here to provide the whole scoop on to why dogs lick your face. So, if you want to learn more about this aspect of your dog’s life then keep on reading. So, let’s get on with it, shall we?

Why do Dogs do this?

The first thing that you need to know is why do dogs lick your face. It is important to understand the reasoning behind this act before proceeding onwards. Speaking from a scientific perspective, this behavior is derived from the dog’s instincts. This is an evolution of the wolf pup licking the face of its parent dog which in turn causes it to regurgitate partially digested food. Sounds pretty disgusting right? Well, keep on reading then because as we said before, this is an evolution of the aforementioned primal act.

It is normal for dogs to lick a human’s face and is considered a typical social behavior. Licking faces can be a sign of various things like contentment, social deference, requesting food, soliciting more information or action, and even a sign of love and adoration.

It isn’t as if the dog only licks your face. Sometimes, a dog might be unable to reach your face for licking, and under such conditions; it may start licking the area closest to its mouth. This includes your hands, feet, arms, legs, etc. In most of these licking instances, this action can be construed as a sign of love and affection that the dog feels towards you. Dogs are also known for licking other dogs’ faces as well and the intent behind this action varies from salutation to adoration.

You need to know that it is also possible for a dog to lick the face of a person that it hasn’t seen before. So, why does a dog lick the face of a stranger? Well, it may range from being preemptive and acting in self-preservation by appeasing the stranger so that it doesn’t harm the dog. When a dog licks the face of children, then it is mainly expressing its love and affection. Most of the time, your dog might be trying to lick off residual bits of food from your child’s face post-meal.

Is this Harmful?

Dog saliva doesn’t evince any detrimental properties for adults and children, only if they are healthy. But, you should know that dog saliva can bring an infection to an open wound. That is because licking the wound would keep it moist and provide a fecund ground for bacteria to grow. So, don’t let your dog lick your face or any part of the skin that isn’t intact.

The main culprit for infection is Capnocytophaga canimorsus, a bacterium that can be found in dog saliva. It is this bacterium that infects and worsens the condition of an open wound after a dog licks it. You should also know that this bacterium is present in the saliva of cats and dogs and causes them no harm.

You should also reconsider letting your dog lick your face if you have a weak and compromised immune system. That is because the odds of you developing an infection or becoming sick as a result of dog licking are significantly higher.

In any case, whether if you are healthy or have a weak immune system, it is recommended that you immediately wash your face, hands, or any other area of the skin that your dog has licked.

Should you Allow your Dog to Lick your Face?

If you are a healthy individual with an uncompromised immune system, then there is no harm in allowing your dog to lick your face. Then again, if you are the worrying type and would rather not have your dog’s mouth anywhere near yours, then don’t permit it to do so. At the end of the day, it is all a matter of your personal preference.

There is a workaround to this matter though. You can let your dog lick the underside of your chin for licking and then immediately wash it with a good anti-bacterial soap or sanitizer. The same goes for your hand, arm, or feet as well.

What to do if you don’t like your Dog’s Licking Behavior

There is a way by which you can discourage your dog from this licking behavior. The first thing that you need to do is to not give any kind of reinforcement or encouragement if a dog licks your face. For instance, don’t give your dog any food when it licks your face during meals. Your dog will see this as an reinforcing act by the dog. And it will continue to do so in future instances as well.

You can also get your dog to abandon this act of licking as a mode of expressing attention for other acceptable ones. These include jumping, barking in joy, rolling over, etc.

So, there you have it, all the information that you might need regarding your dog’s licking of your face. It isn’t that big of a deal and we find it pretty cute. But you should discourage this act if you have any health problems or are simply not a fan.