If your dog has been licking your neck 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 to get your dog to stop doing it. 

So, why does my dog lick my neck? Possible reasons why your dog has been licking your neck are that it is excited, it wants something from you, it is being affectionate or that it has learned that the behavior is rewarded.

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 main cause, it should become a lot easier to get your dog to stop doing it. 

Reasons why your dog licks your neck

Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been doing it and what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason. 

Encouraging the behavior

It could be the case that it has learned that it gets rewards for licking your neck. If you tend to give it things such as extra attention, toys or treats, when it licks your neck, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards. Instead, it would help to avoid rewarding it with attention, when it licks your neck, and to reward it when it is being well behaved. 

Excitement

The reason why it licks your neck 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 neck before continuing. 

It wants something

The cause could also be that it is trying to get you to give it something. This would be more likely if it tends to do it at around the same time that you would normally give it things such as a walk or food. 

Boredom

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. 

Nature

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 neck. The habit of licking things will stay with it as it gets older which is why they will naturally lick quite often.

Affection

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.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been licking your neck.

What else happened when your dog first started licking your neck

If your dog did not always lick your neck, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it. 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

If it tends to do it more at a certain time, it would also help to consider what is different when it tends to do 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.

What to do about your dog licking your neck

Below are some options you have when getting your dog to stop doing it. 

Avoid encouraging it

As mentioned above, it could be the case that it has realized that it gets rewarded when it licks your neck. Instead, it would help to reward it with things such as attention when it is being well behaved. If it starts licking your neck, it would help to stop rewarding it until it calms down.

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 neck you would:

  • Stand up and turn away, when it starts licking your neck, 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 neck
  • Repeat the above until it learns that licking your neck 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.

Redirect its focus

It would also likely help to try to redirect its focus onto something else when it seems likely to start licking you. Things you could redirect its focus onto could include toys or bones.

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I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.