If your dog has been licking your face a lot, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do about them.
So, why does my dog lick my face? Possible reasons why your dog licks your face are that the behavior is rewarded, it is looking for attention, it is bored, it is being affectionate or that it is excited.
Since there are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been licking your face, it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely. Once you have a good idea of the main cause, it should become easier to figure out how to get it to stop.
Why does my dog lick my face?
Below are a number of reasons why your dog might have been licking your face and what would make them more likely to be the main reason.
The behavior gets rewarded
The cause could be that it has learned that it gets rewarded for licking your face. If you tend to give it things such as more attention, treats or toys, when it licks your face, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Looking for attention
The cause might be that it is looking for attention. This would be more likely if it does it more when you have not been giving it much attention and if you tend to give it more attention when it does it.
Instead, it would help to give it attention throughout the day by playing with it, training it and exercising it but to avoid rewarding it with attention when it licks your face by redirecting its behavior when it starts.
It could be the case that your dog does it because it is bored and looking for ways to stimulate itself. This would be more likely if your dog tends to do it more before getting to do stimulating things such as exercise and training.
It would help to ensure that it is able to get the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed, if it is already, another way to calm it down would be to give it training.
When dogs are young ,one of the first ways that they will explore the world is by licking and sniffing things. If your dog is a puppy then it is likely to be the case that it is exploring when it is licking your face. The habit of licking things will stay with it as it gets older which is why they will naturally lick quite often.
It might also be the case that it does it because it is being affectionate. When it’s licking you it’s letting you know that it trusts you and that you are a part of its tribe. This type of licking is normal and will often happen when you try to pet it.
Dogs will often groom themselves by licking. They will also groom others such as when a mother dogs licks her puppies. This is could be why your dog has been licking your face. This would be more likely if it tries to lick you when you are not petting it.
The reason why it licks your face could be that it is excited. This would be more likely if it tends to do it in situations where it gets very excited such as when you come home or when it is going out for a walk.
In this case, it would help to avoid doing the thing that it gets excited about and to wait for it to stop licking your face before continuing.
Things to consider
Below are some things you can consider to help figure out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
What else happened when your dog first started licking your face
If your dog did not always lick your face, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it since an event could have occurred that caused it to start.
If it started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as learning that it gets rewards for doing it or if you stopped giving it as much attention causing it to do things to get you to give it more attention.
What is different when it does it
It would also help to consider if there are certain situations that your dog tends to do it in and what is different in the timing. If it tends to do it more when you arrive home, it would be more likely to be due to things such as excitement and it would help to ignore it until it stops licking and then to reward it for not licking.
What to do about my dog licking my face?
Below are some things you can do in order to get your dog to stop licking your face.
Avoid encouraging it
As mentioned above, it could be the case that your dog has learned that it gets rewards for licking your face. It would help to stop giving it rewards or attention, when it starts licking your face, then to give it attention again once it has stopped. It would also help to try to redirect its focus as soon as it seems likely to start licking your face.
Train it to stop
Positive reinforcement training is where you get your dog to do things that you want by rewarding it for doing them or showing signs of doing them.
To use positive reinforcement training to get it to stop licking your face you would:
- Stand up and turn away, when it starts licking your face, leaving the room if necessary.
- Wait a few moments and then go back to giving it attention and then turning away again if it starts licking your face
- Repeat the above until it learns that licking your face causes it to lose your attention
- Reward it with a treat when it does particularly well
Give it exercise
Since it could be the case that it has been licking you a lot due to being bored, it would help to ensure that it is able to get the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed. If it is already getting a lot of exercise, another way to calm it down would be to give it training since it can be very mentally stimulating for dogs.
Give it attention
It would also help to give it attention throughout the day so that it is less likely to try to get attention from you. Ways to give it attention would be to train it, exercise it and to play with it.
Give it distractions
In addition to the above, you could also try giving it things to be distracted by such as bones or toys so that it is less likely to start licking your face.