If your dog has been licking your mouth 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 mouth? Possible reasons why your dog licks your mouth are that the behavior is rewarded, it is looking for attention, boredom, it is being affectionate or that it is excited.
Since there are a number of possible causes, it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely. Once you have a good idea of the cause, it should become easier to get it to stop.
Why does my dog lick my mouth?
Below are a number of reasons why your dog might lick your mouth 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 mouth. If you tend to give it things such as more attention, treats or toys, when it licks your mouth, 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 mouth 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 mouth. 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.
The reason why it licks your mouth 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 mouth before continuing.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
What else happened when your dog first licked your mouth
If your dog did not always lick your mouth, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started.
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 your dog licks your mouth
It would also help to consider if there is anything different about the timing of when it normally does it.
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.
The age of your dog
It is very common for dogs to lick people’s faces and mouths when they are puppies because they naturally greet each other at the face. If your dog is still a puppy, it would be likely that your dog has not yet learned that the behavior is not ok. In this case, it would help to avoid giving your puppy any more attention when the behavior starts by giving it a “time out” so that your dog learns that the behavior is not rewarded.
If your dog is an adult, it would be a lot more likely that your dog has learned that licking your mouth is an effective way of getting extra attention from you.
How to get my dog to stop licking my mouth?
Below are some things you can do in order to encourage your dog to stop doing it.
Avoid encouraging it
As mentioned above, it could be the case that your dog has learned that it gets rewards for licking your mouth. It would help to stop giving it rewards or attention, when it starts licking your mouth, then to give it attention again once it has stopped. You can do this by giving your dog a “time out” whenever it tries to lick your mouth. It would also help to try to redirect its focus as soon as it seems likely to start licking your mouth. Doing this should teach your dog that licking your mouth is not accepted.
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 mouth you would:
- Stand up and turn away, when it starts licking your mouth, 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 mouth
- Repeat the above until it learns that licking your mouth 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 mouth.
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