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Why Does Your Dog Always Lick Your Mouth?

By Aviram K.
Published in Training & Behavior
November 8, 2021
5 min read
Why Does Your Dog Always Lick Your Mouth?
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.

Perhaps nothing says love as simply and directly as a kiss. One little action can speak thousands of words of affection and adoration that can’t quite be captured through words.

Kisses are even known to be good for you on a chemical level. Kissing releases dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin in your body. These compounds can elevate your mood and promote feelings of bonding.

No wonder you love kissing your favorite humans!

But what about if your dog seems to be coming in close for some mouth-to-mouth action?

Yep, they’re licking your mouth!

What are they doing…and what does this mean?

Is this even cleanly?

…or safe?

Your dog may lick your mouth to show affection or out of excitement or boredom. They may also do it simply because you have rewarded this behavior. It is generally safe for your dog to lick your face, but those with certain illnesses, the elderly, and pregnant women should be cautious.

In this article, I will detail the possible reasons that your dog may always be licking your mouth. Then, I will explore whether your dog licking your mouth is bad.

And finally, I will wrap things up by suggesting a few questions you may ask yourself to figure out if you should let your dog lick your mouth.

Ready to understand the truth behind these mysterious doggy kisses?

Let’s dive in!

Table of Contents

01

Why Does Your Dog Lick Your Mouth?

02

Is It Bad If Your Dog Licks Your Mouth?

03

To Lick or Not to Lick

Why Does Your Dog Lick Your Mouth?

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As a dog owner, you’re likely no stranger to dog licks.

It’s pretty much an unspoken part of the territory!

You may have even noticed that your dog seems to have go-to spots that he likes to lick. These may include:

  • Your ears
  • Your legs and feet
  • Other dog’s private areas
  • …& even your underwear!

Learning about some of your pup’s stranger impulses is extra proof that you don’t have to totally understand your dog to love them!

So, what if the specific area your pup has decided to zero in on to lick is your mouth?

You may wonder what is going through their head when they do this. It may feel a little too invasive, intimate, or just plain icky.

Understandably, this phenomenon may weird you out a bit, but I recommend not reading too much into it.

Your pup is likely licking your mouth for a couple of instinctual and straightforward reasons that make total sense to them!

Your dog may be licking your mouth because:

They Are Showing You Affection

Your dog may be licking your mouth to express their love for you. From your dog’s point of view, each lick may literally be encoded with a genuine and innocent “I love you!” Your dog most likely sees you as the leader of their pack, their provider, and their favorite person.

Sometimes you can have so much going on in life that it can be easy to forget that to your pet, you are their whole world!

Imagine loving someone deeply and also never having been conditioned to suppress that love whatsoever. This may be why your dog’s mouth licks feel so aggressive and forward. They come from a place of pure, unadulterated love.

They Are Excited

Mouth licks from your pup can also be their way of releasing their excited energy. For example, your dog may be more prone to licking your mouth upon your arrival home. This is because they are amped up to see you!

Your dog may be licking you out of excitement if you notice that their licking corresponds with their favorite activities. For example, do they seem to lick you more before, during, or after you play or exercise together?

Your pup may know when you’re both about to do an activity that they like, so the licking is their way of saying, “yay! I love this!”

They May Be Bored

While your dog is likely to be licking you for positive reasons, it is also possible that their licking is more out of compulsion. For example, if your dog feels bored or under-stimulated mentally, they may take to licking you. This type of licking is more of a mindless licking. This behavior can signify that there is actually something wrong.

If your dog is licking you, for this reason, you may sense that there is something up with your pup. They may present other signs of distress like pacing, staring into space, walking in circles, or barking.

If you suspect that your pup is licking out of boredom, try giving them more attention. Exercise or mental stimulation through dog games may also help!

You May Have Encouraged Your Dog to Lick Your Face

Even if your dog’s licking annoys you, you may have unknowingly encouraged their behavior. If you give your dog any strong and visible reaction when they lick you, they may like the attention!

This can happen even if you display how grossed out you are by their licking. To your pup, any attention whatsoever may be good attention.

If you think you may have encouraged your dog to keep licking your mouth due to your big reactions, the fix is likely pretty simple. Stop giving them big reactions!

You don’t have to be mean or cold to your pup. But downplaying how much their licking affects you can help them to see it as no big deal. If they get crickets whenever they try to lick your face, it likely won’t feel as fun or enticing for them anymore.

Is It Bad If Your Dog Licks Your Mouth?

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It isn’t inherently bad if your dog licks your mouth. But there are a few things you may want to consider if your dog is doing this.

It was thought that dogs’ mouths were a little cleaner than they actually were in the past. But in reality, the myth of a dog’s saliva being nearly sterile or having healing powers is untrue.

And if you remember, as I mentioned above, your dog may love to lick some pretty strange places…ears…legs and feet…other dogs privates…your underwear!

It’s not that your dog’s saliva is totally disgusting. But in reality, it can contain bacteria like E. coli, Salmonella, and parasites like Cryptosporidium and Giardia.

It is generally safe for healthy people to come into contact with small traces of these bacteria and parasites. So, if you enjoy having your dog lick your mouth, there is no blatant or extreme safety hazard here.

Yet, there are some cases when your dog licking your mouth may actually be harmful. For example, certain groups of people may be more at risk of illness from coming into contact with the pathogens that may be in your dog’s mouth.

You may want to rethink allowing your dog to lick your mouth if you or a loved one has any of the following contradictions:

  • Pregnancy
  • A compromised immune system; i.e., cancer, diabetes, or AIDS patients
  • Being an infant or baby
  • Having open sores or wounds

To Lick or Not to Lick

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So, what do you make of your pup’s mouth licking?

Now that you know some of the reasons your dog may be doing this, I hope you feel less creeped out. And also more understanding of their behavior.

Your dog’s licking may be out of love, excitement, boredom, or it may even be a bid for your attention.

Most importantly, I think it helps to understand that they aren’t intentionally trying to be weird or irritating by licking your mouth. Your pup is just doing what comes naturally to them!

It isn’t technically bad to let your dog lick your mouth. There is a chance that your pup could transfer bacteria or parasites through their saliva, but it is a small chance. It’s generally safe for your dog to lick your mouth unless you are in one of the higher-risk groups I mentioned earlier.

When deciding if you are okay with your dog licking your mouth, perhaps consider asking yourself these questions:

  • Is this something I feel safe and comfortable doing?
  • Do I enjoy receiving love from my dog in this way?
  • Does my dog seem to be licking my mouth for a healthy reason and not out of compulsion or distress?

Whatever conclusion you come to, I hope this information has helped you see your dog’s licking for what it is and approach it in a way that is the best for you, your family, and your pup!


Tags

Dog LickingDog Behaviors

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