If your dog has been licking your head, 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 head? Common reasons why your dog might be licking your head are that it has learned that the behavior is rewarded, it wants extra attention, it is trying to show affection, or that it is doing it due to excitement.
There are actually a number of possible causes and it might be due to a combination of reasons. However, there are a number of things you can consider when figuring out the main reason and there are a number of things you can do about it.
Reasons why your dog licks your head
Below are a number of possible causes and what would make each of them more likely to be the main cause.
Encouraging the behavior
It might be the case that your dog has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. If you tend to give your dog rewards such as toys, treats, or extra attention, when it licks your head, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
The reason why it licks your head 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 head before continuing.
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 head. 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 head. This would be more likely if it tries to lick you when you are not petting it.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
If it has always done it
If your dog did not always lick your head, 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 else is different when your dog licks your head
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 your dog licking your head
Below are a number of options you have when dealing with the behavior. Making use of a combination of them will likely work best.
Avoid encouraging it
As mentioned above, it could be the case that your dog has learned that it gets rewards for licking your head. It would help to stop giving it rewards or attention, when it starts licking your head, 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 head.
Train it not to do it
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 head you would:
- Stand up and turn away, when it starts licking your head, 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 head
- Repeat the above until it learns that licking your head 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 head. It could also help to redirect its focus onto distractions when it seems likely to start licking your head.