You’ve just arrived home after a long day of work. You set your briefcase on the table and immediately drop down to greet your pup. He sure is happy to see you.
And the feeling is mutual! As you shower him with hugs and run your fingers through his coat, you hold his face in your hands with a smile on your face so big that your mouth is wide open.
Then your pup does something totally unexpected: his tongue juts out and torpedoes straight to the inside of your mouth! Surely that was an accident…right?
But then he goes back in for more! Wait! What is he doing?
Dogs lick inside your mouth for several reasons. They may do it to express love, submission, or groom you. They may also do it because you’ve encouraged them in this behavior.
In this article, I will explore the many reasons your dog may lick inside your mouth and offer guidance on whether you should let your dog lick inside your mouth.
Think this whole licking inside of your mouth thing is kinda weird? Rest assured, your dog isn’t trying to be creepy!
He’s doing this for the reason that makes sense to him. And I’ll help it all make sense for you too.
Come along; I’ll explain!
As humans, when we think of tongues in mouths, it’s usually in one very clear context. Almost always, it’s something that takes place within private confines, between you and a significant other of some sort. It’s an intimate act, something pleasurable and consensual.
So, when your pup innocently yet enthusiastically thrusts his tongue inside your mouth, it’s understandable if you’re not quite sure how to feel. Remember, your dog hasn’t been conditioned to have this act mean anything at all! It doesn’t carry the same meaning for them as it probably does for you.
Then what is their reason for doing this? Let’s take a look at some potential whys behind their licking:
A very simple reason your pup could be licking inside your mouth is literally to say, “I love you!”.
Your pup loves to be near you and “kiss” you the same way you do with those you love the most. So your dog licking you anywhere, including the inside of your mouth, can be their way of showing you affection in the most straightforward way.
If it feels odd that your dog is licking inside your mouth to show you affection, think of it this way: your pup would probably lick anywhere that is available to them! This could include your ears or arms…anything you’ll let them get their tongue on, really!
Another result of your pup’s instincts is that your dog may be licking inside your mouth to show that they are submitted to you.
In a dog pack, the leader or alpha is licked by the pack members to demonstrate their respect.
Your dog sees you as their alpha, and they may want to show you the proper reverence. Probably not the way you’re accustomed to someone telling you that they respect you, but I guarantee your pup’s intentions are pure!
As a newborn puppy, your dog learned what it means to be groomed from their mother.
Your pup’s mother would gently and affectionately lick them to keep them clean so the action feels extremely natural and soothing for them.
Don’t worry, it’s not that your dog thinks you’re their puppy or something like that!
But they likely feel that familial bond with you and feel the urge to take care of you in the most simple and instinctual way…by cleaning you!
Your dog licking the inside of your mouth could have a more practical motivation.
Your dog could be literally trying to say, “Hey, feed me!” Back when your pup was a little one in his mom’s litter, he may have licked his mother’s mouth in the hopes that she would regurgitate some food just for him.
But try not to judge your pup, as this is a totally instinctual thing. Dogs in the wild lick the mouths and muzzles of the dog who has just come back from hunting for exactly the same reason.
Strange as it may sound, you may have encouraged your pup to lick inside your mouth.
You may be thinking, “impossible! I hate it when my dog licks my mouth. There is no way I would ever encourage them to do it!”
But there is a way.
You may have unknowingly encouraged your pup to lick your mouth by displaying a strong reaction to them whenever they’ve done it. A dramatic reaction, whether positive or negative, equals attention to your dog. And any attention is good attention to them!
Maybe your pup is licking you in a way that seems a bit “off.”
They could be licking you out of compulsion. In this case, your dog could be bored, anxious, or suffering from a health condition.
If you have a gut feeling that your pup is licking the inside of your mouth to try to soothe themselves in some way, I recommend following your intuition and having them examined by their vet to rule out any issues.
While I am sorry to rain on Fido’s mouth licking parade, I actually do not recommend you allow your pup to lick inside your mouth.
There is no conclusive evidence that confirms 100 percent that your dog licking inside of your mouth is dangerous. But there is information showing that a dog’s saliva is known to contain yeast, bacteria, and viruses. And these pathogens are transmittable from your pup’s saliva to you.
Many of the warnings out there on this topic refer to the surprising uncleanliness of dog saliva in general. Several articles explain why it’s not good to have a dog lick your face. This is especially true for the very young, elderly people, and those with compromised immune systems.
If dog saliva isn’t considered safe across the board to be on your face, imagine how much more questionable it may be to have your dog plant it inside your actual mouth…via their tongue!
Don’t get me wrong, there’s likely nothing wrong with a few doggy-face-kisses for a healthy adult. But I would avoid having your dog go all-in with their tongue inside of your mouth.
There is no need to freak out and book it to the emergency room if a few of your dog’s licks have landed in your mouth. But it may not be the best or safest practice, and it’s not something I recommend allowing to become a regular part of your routine.
Your pup loves you. And anything they do towards you is motivated by that love, no doubt.
But in the case of your pup licking inside your mouth, they could unintentionally be putting you in danger.
Even though your pup is licking inside your mouth for innocent reasons like showing love, grooming you, or demonstrating submission, the germs in their saliva should not go into your mouth!
It may be tough to tell your pup “no” in any type of way. Their big sweet eyes make that difficult! But in this case, it is wise to kindly decline their advances and redirect their sweet kisses elsewhere.