I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t like the feeling of my dog’s wet tongue on my face before bed. I really find it annoying. What about you? Does your dog lick your face before bed? Would you like to know the reasons why dogs do it, especially before bed? That’s the essence of today’s Pawsitive Tips.
So you may be asking, Why does my dog lick my face before bed? Your dog may lick your face before bed for several reasons, including to show affection, taste your skin’s unique flavors, strengthen your bond, alleviate boredom, relieve stress, seek attention, follow habitual behavior, and because you encouraged the action through positive reactions.
Just to help you guys know the exact reasons behind this canine behavior, I’ve come up with this comprehensive article and also addressed some of the common queries of dog owners when dogs lick their faces, including how you can actually stop the behavior if you wish.
Why does my dog lick my face before bed?
Like I mentioned earlier, dogs may lick their owners’ faces before bed for a variety of reasons. We are going to focus on eight here.
Your dog may like the taste of your skin
Based on my experience, our dogs most often lick our faces either before bed or anytime because they actually like the taste of our skin. Did you know that your skin has a unique taste for your dog? The saltiness and traces of any lingering scents from your day can make your face quite intriguing to your dog.
You should understand that dogs possess an incredibly sensitive sense of smell, so they are naturally drawn to the captivating blend of scents that make up your facial skin. Their curious nature drives them to explore and interact with their world through their tongue, and licking your face before bed offers an irresistible sensory experience.
Your dog is showing affection for you
I asked a veterinarian friend of mine the reasons behind my dog licking my face before bed; one of the reasons he gave me was that my dog may actually be showing his affection to me. He went further to explain that this is a way for a dog to show love, loyalty, and bond with the owner.
Although I don’t personally love my dog licking my face, but I learned that when a dog licks your face, it releases oxytocin, the “love hormone,” not only in them but also in you. This mutual release, according to the vet, fosters a sense of closeness and comfort, enhancing your emotional connection with your dog.
Your dog wants to get your attention
If your dog is feeling neglected or wants to play, they might lick your face to get your attention. This is very common in puppies and dogs that are used to getting a lot of attention from their owners.
To strengthen the bond between the dog and its owner
According to what I gathered from a veterinarian, licking is a natural behavior in dogs, and this kind of behavior started in their early days as puppies, when mother dogs would lick their young to groom them and establish a strong bond. By licking your face before bed, your dog may be instinctively attempting to recreate this bonding experience, reinforcing the connection between you as his protector and caregiver.
Your dog may be bored
Boredom is another reason that is capable of making your dog lick your face before bed or engaging in some other repetitive behaviors. I know that many dog owners do go to work every day, leaving their dogs alone at home for a long period of time. This alone can make your dog bored throughout the day, and when you eventually come back in the evening, you may still not have the energy to play with him. So when your dog isn’t getting enough mental or physical stimulation from you, he might turn to licking your face before bed as a way to alleviate his boredom.
Also, when your household is quieter and your dog has fewer distractions, he may seek comfort in the familiar act of licking you.
To relieve stress
Just like humans, dogs can experience stress and anxiety. Licking releases endorphins, which have a calming effect and can help reduce stress levels in dogs. Licking your face before bed might be your dog’s way of easing his anxieties, as he associates your presence with comfort and security.
It is a habitual behavior
My veterinarian friend also told me that certain behaviors can become habitual for dogs over time. If your dog has been licking your face before bed for a while, it may simply have become a comforting routine for your pet. Dogs find reassurance in familiar actions, and this repetitive behavior could be their way of winding down and preparing for sleep.
So, if you love the feeling of your dog licking your face before bed, you have nothing to worry about. Just make sure you wash your face clean with water before sleeping.
You actually encouraged this behavior
As a dog owner, your reactions play a significant role in shaping your dog’s behavior. I told you I don’t fancy my dog licking my face before bed, and I have never encouraged or responded positively to licking my face. So, if you’ve responded positively to your dog’s face licking in the past – with cuddles, smiles, or laughter—you have unintentionally reinforced this behavior.
Dogs are incredibly perceptive and quickly learn which actions lead to favorable outcomes. Your encouragement has contributed to making face licking before bed a delightful bedtime ritual for your dog.
How do I stop my dog from licking my face before bed?
If you’re looking to put an end to your dog licking your face before bed ritual, there are several effective strategies you can implement. Here’s how to stop your dog from licking your face before bed:
Channel your dog’s attention to another thing
If your dog starts licking your face, try to redirect his attention to something else, such as a toy or a treat. You can also try giving them a command, such as “sit” or “stay.”
Don’t encourage the behavior
If you ignore the behavior, your dog will eventually learn that it’s not getting the attention it’s seeking. I know this can be difficult, but that’s one of the methods I used to stop my dog from licking my face before bed. If you want to apply this method, make sure you are consistent with it.
Teach your dog the “leave it” command
This is a basic obedience command that can be very helpful in stopping unwanted behaviors, such as face-licking. When your dog starts to lick your face, say “leave it” in a firm voice and then redirect their attention to something else.
Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise and mental stimulation
You need to understand that a bored or restless dog is more likely to engage in unwanted behaviors, such as licking your face before bed. Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation throughout the day to help prevent this.
Visit a veterinarian
If you’ve tried all of the above and your dog is still licking your face excessively, it’s important to see a veterinarian. There may be an underlying medical condition that’s causing the excessive licking.
What are the health risks of your dog licking your face?
Allowing your dog to lick your face carries health risks, especially for unvaccinated dogs. They include:
- Bacterial infections. Dogs’ mouths are full of bacteria, some of which can be harmful to humans. When a dog licks your face, they can transfer these bacteria to your mouth, nose, and eyes. This can lead to infections, such as:
- Staph infections. Staph infections can cause a variety of symptoms, including redness, swelling, and pain. In severe cases, staph infections can lead to sepsis, a life-threatening condition.
- Pneumonia. If a dog licks your mouth or nose, they can transfer bacteria that can cause pneumonia. Pneumonia is a lung infection that can be very serious, especially in young children and people with weakened immune systems.
- Giardia. Giardia is a parasite that can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss. It can be transmitted to humans through contact with dog feces, but it can also be transmitted through dog saliva.
- Viral infections. Dogs can also carry viruses that can be harmful to humans. Some of the viruses that dogs can transmit through licking include:
- Canine distemper. Canine distemper is a serious and often fatal disease that can affect dogs, cats, and ferrets. It can be transmitted through contact with saliva, nasal secretions, and urine.
- Parvovirus. Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. It can be fatal, especially in puppies.
- Rabies. Rabies is a deadly virus that can be transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. If a dog licks you and you’re not sure if they’re vaccinated against rabies, it’s important to see a doctor right away.
- Allergies. Some people are allergic to dog saliva. If you’re allergic to dog saliva like I am, you may experience symptoms such as:
- Runny nose.
How do I protect myself from the health risks of my dog licking my face?
If your dog licks your face frequently, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself from the health risks. Here are some tips:
- Wash your hands thoroughly after your dog licks your face. This will help to remove any bacteria or viruses that may have been transferred.
- Avoid letting your dog lick your mouth, nose, or eyes. These are areas where bacteria can easily enter your body.
- If you have a child, supervise them closely when they’re around dogs. Children are more likely to get sick from dog saliva than adults.
- Get your dog vaccinated against rabies and other diseases. This will help protect you and your family from getting sick.
If your dog licks your face before bed, it’s usually nothing to worry about. It’s just his way of showing you love and affection. Just make sure your dog is vaccinated against rabies and other diseases.
However, if your dog is licking excessively or if the licking is causing you discomfort, you should talk to your veterinarian. There might be an underlying medical condition that’s causing the excessive licking.