Black mixed breed dog sleeping in Mom's bed

Why Does My Dog Lick My Nose and Mouth Every Morning?

Last updated on November 12th, 2023 at 10:35 pm

Every morning when I wake up, one of my dogs, Georgia, greets me with a happy, wet, pink tongue. As soon as I begin to stir just a little, she very gingerly walks across to my side of the bed. I can spy her with one eye barely open moving ever so carefully toward me. Pretty soon, she is right in my face and the nose-licking begins!

Dogs generally lick their owners nose and mouth as a sign of affection and connection. Licking is an instinctive behavior that puppies learn from their mothers who lick to nurture, groom, heal, and feed their pups.

Why Dogs Lick in General: Understanding Canine Behavior

Licking is an instinctive behavior in dogs, learned from their mother dogs at a young age. It serves as a primary means of communication and a way for young puppies to interact with their environment. Puppies learn about licking when they are born. Their mother will lick her puppies as a way of grooming them and also getting them to eat when she wants them to nurse or take food from her mouth.

Getting Food: From Mother’s Care to Human Interaction

In the wild, mother dogs nurture their puppies by licking them to encourage feeding. This behavior evolves into an instinct for dogs to lick their owners’ faces, possibly as a remnant of their ancestral habit of licking for food.

Your furry friend may sometimes lick your face or lips to taste what you have just eaten or because of the taste of your skin. Perhaps the instinct to get food remains.

Affection And Grooming: Signs of Love in the Canine World

Licking, for the most part, is a harmless behavior and an intimate act of grooming and sign of affection in the dog world. It’s a positive reinforcement of the bond between dogs and their human companions. Since you and your dog are now “pack members”, your dog may try to lick you as a form of affection.

Exploration: Dogs Discovering the World One Lick at a Time

My black dog Georgia licking and tasting things in the back patio.
My black dog Georgia licking and tasting things on the back patio.

Dogs experience their world using their basic senses, and tasting is a key method for them to understand their surroundings. Licking different objects and their owners helps them gather a lot of information about their environment.

My dog, Georgia loves to lick and taste just about everything! Every morning she runs out into the back patio with her tongue out ready to explore! Dogs experience their world in very physical ways using their basic senses of hearing, seeing, smelling, touching and tasting. Tasting and licking seem to be key ways the check out their environment. See my post A Dog’s Newspaper for more on how dogs explore their world each day.

Healing Wounds: The Antiseptic Power of Dog Saliva

Dogs instinctively lick their wounds, as their saliva has antiseptic properties that can aid in healing and kill germs. This behavior extends to their grooming habits and care for their human companions. Dogs frequently try to heal minor wounds by licking.

Submissive Behavior: A Dog’s Way of Showing Respect

Licking can also be a submissive gesture, where a dog shows deference to a dominant pack member – in many cases, their human owner. This behavior reflects the dog’s trust and respect for their owner.

Taste Attraction: The Simple Pleasure of Licking

Sometimes, dogs lick because they are attracted to the taste of their owner’s skin, which might be salty or carry the flavor of something they recently ate. And sometimes dogs lick us just because it is fun!

What is Unique about Nose Licking?

But what is it about dogs who like to lick your nose? Nose licking is a specific behavior that can signify a dog’s desire for attention or their way of expressing affection. It’s a common reason for dogs to engage in this behavior, especially in the mornings. This is the way my dogs love to wake me up every morning, and it truly does get my attention!

Nose and Mouth Licking: Doggy Kisses or More?

Since doggy licks are frequently acts of grooming and intimacy, they certainly seem like kisses! You may agree after watching this sweet video from The Dodo Foster Diaries about an Oregon man who adopted a timid brown lab from a shelter. It will bring tears of joy to your eyes.

Other Ways Dogs Show Affection

In addition to licking your nose and face, dogs have other ways of showing affection. Here are some of them:

  • Lean on you
  • Snuggle up close next to you
  • Sleep nearby or in your bed
  • Put their paws on you
  • Jump up to greet you (even though this may be a no-no in your house)
  • Wag their tails when they see you
  • Follow you around
  • Bring their favorite toys to you

The Science Behind Dog Licking

According to petmd.com, scientific studies have linked canine licking to the release of hormones such as endorphins that help a dog feel more calm and relaxed.

Addtionally, licking enhances a dog’s ability to smell and pick up scents. Have you ever noticed that the first thing your dog does when you come home is smell you and lick you? Your pooch is checking you out to see where you have been, who you have been with, and what interesting things you may have brushed up against!

How to Stop Unwanted Licking Behavior

Dog owners may need to manage excessive licking expecially if they have health related concerns. And sometimes it is just annoying to always be licked in the face! Licking can be especially annoying for your visitors who may not appreciate being slobbered on.

Here are some ways to discourage your pooch from licking:

  • Simply move away — Don’t engage with your pup when they lick you and turn away. Eventually your dog will get the idea.
  • Ensure your dog has adequate exercise — A bored dog is more likely to use licking as a way to get attention.
  • Keep your dog distracted with training — Engage your dog’s mind and body and practice basic commands such as sit, stay, lie down.
  • Shower your dog with praise and attention — Playing, engaging, and paying attention to your pup will reduce his inclination to get your attention by licking you.

Behavioral Aspects: Stress, Anxiety, Medical Conditions, and Obsessive Licking

Licking can sometimes be a sign of of a medical condition, stress, separation anxiety, or an obsessive-compulsive disorder in dogs. If you notice your dog licking you or himself excessively, you may want to schedule a vet appointment to rule out an underlying health condition or mental health disorder. Behavior such as excessive lip licking can be a sign of stress, as an example.

If your dog is in physical pain or has a wound he may lick himself and you as well. This is your dog’s attempt to heal and soothe himself. Constant licking can also be a sign of extreme boredom or anxiety, or even a mental health issue. Pay attention and don’t ignore this behavior if it seems like excessive dog behavior.

In Conclusion: Embracing the Love and Addressing the Concerns

When your dog licks your nose and mouth it is mostly about offering affection and having some fun! For the most part, this is normal dog behavior that ranges from connecting with you to healing a sore paw. But if it seems excessive, consult a vet or animal behaviorist.

Just take precautions to wash your hands and face if your dog gets carried away. You never know where that tongue has been!

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