Why does my dog lick my face?

February 4th, 2019

If you own a dog, there’s a 100% chance that you have been continuously licked on the face as you try and wriggle away from your pup. It is a normal instinctive behaviour for all canines as they use it to communicate with humans and other animals. However, what are they trying to communicate? Petcover looks into the many reasons why dogs lick our faces.

Showing Affection

This is fairly obvious and one of the most common reasons why dogs lick our faces. They pick this behaviour up as puppies from their mothers and litter mates as this strengthens the family bond. By licking a human’s face, the dog releases pleasurable endorphins that calm and comfort them – also allowing them to express their affection towards you and strengthen your bond.

We Taste Good

Although it sounds weird, dogs may be licking us because they enjoy the taste. You would have noticed a dog lick their plate clean, pretty much mop the floor when there is a spill, or clean up literally anything that may have some sort of taste to it. This is the same for when they lick our face. We can sometimes have tiny food particles that they can taste, or even just the salt on our skin is enough for them to continue to lick our faces.


Every now and then your pup will lick themselves in order to groom; therefore they may be doing the same when they lick our faces. This may mean that they are doing this in order to keep us clean, similar to what mums do to their new puppies.


Like many things that dogs do, licking your face because they are hungry can be linked back to their ancestors and what they learnt as a puppy. When they were pups, dogs will often lick their mum’s lips to stimulate a regurgitation reflex so they can eat the food that their mother vomits up.

Going back to their ancestors, wolves and wild dogs will lick the pack leader’s face as a way of begging for food. Therefore, your dog may be telling you that they are hungry or want something to eat – especially if it is around feeding time!

Tips to Stop this Behaviour

When your pup starts licking your face, it can start off as funny and cute, although it can quickly turn annoying and disgusting. If your dog gets carried away with face licking and you want it to stop, your best step is to ignore the behaviour. Close your eyes, turn your head away, and yawn. These actions will show to your pet that you accept their friendship but wish for this behaviour to stop.


The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the writer. Content published here does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Petcover.

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