Why Do Dogs Lick The Inside of Your Nose?

dog licking owners face

As gross as it may sound to us, the most likely reason your dog licks the inside of your nose is that they like the taste. They may also do it for attention, to show submission, and for grooming. If a dog nibbles on your nose, it’s usually a sign of affection.

It’s no surprise that dogs enjoy licking. Some dogs lick more often than others, but all dogs use licking as a technique to communicate with those around them.

One unusual behavior that dogs sometimes exhibit is licking the inside of a person’s nose. If your dog has ever licked the inside of your nose, you might be wondering what the reason is for this behavior.

As you likely expected, there is a reason for the madness, and it’s up to you to determine what the reason is.

The Main Reasons Dogs May Lick Your Nose

There are a number of reasons your dog may lick the inside of your nose. While the answer may not be completely clear at first glance, there is a good chance one of the following reasons will be the primary or a contributing factor for why they are licking inside of your nose.

A Learned Behavior

The main reason dogs lick faces is because they learned it from their mother at birth. When puppies are born, their mother will lick them to help stimulate their breathing and to clean their face.

They often do this around the nose area, causing them to pick up on the behavior and commit it to habit. Mothers will also do this to groom their puppies and communicate with them.

As a Means of Showing Submission

To show you that you are superior to them, dogs may lick your face, including your nose. Dogs originate from gray wolves. Grey wolves have a pack mentality and are led by the alpha in their pack.

Your dog may be licking your nose to show that they acknowledge you as the leader and the alpha “dog” among them.

To Get Attention From You

Most dogs love attention and will do whatever they can to get you to pay closer attention to them!

Some dogs may resort to licking your face to get a reaction out of you. This can be specifically the nose or in any other place, such as your arm or leg.

They Think They Are Grooming You

Since their mother would lick their faces to clean them, they feel that doing the same thing is a way to help clean you.

Your dog may lick inside of your nose because they see debris or snot inside and feel obligated to clean it up for you!

To Express Boredom, Excitement, or Other Emotions

Dogs use body language to express a variety of emotions. Licking is not an exception to this rule. They will lick to express several emotions. Your dog may lick your nose for this very reason.

The most common reason dogs will do this is to display boredom or excitement, but there are other emotions they may be trying to communicate to you through this behavior.

As a Sign of Affection

Dogs’ use of licking to show their affection is not a new concept, and licking your nose is another means for them to display their affection toward you.

What to Do If Your Dog Frequently Licks Your Nose or Face

While it might be cute at first, eventually, most people will want their dog to stop licking the inside of their nose.

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent and stop this behavior. Here are a few things you can try to discourage this behavior.

Don’t Reward the Behavior

This concept should not come as a shock to you. If your dog has a habit of licking the inside of your nose, there are many things you can do to condition them to stop.

Here is a simple three-step process you can use to put an end to this behavior.

1) First, make sure you firmly tell them to stop. This will indicate that licking your face is not a good idea.

2) Next, if possible, leave the area immediately and close the door behind them. This will further instill the idea that what they are doing will lead to you leaving the room.

3) Finally, come back after a few minutes. Repeat these steps as many times as needed.

Train them Not to Lick Your Face

On the opposite spectrum of punishing them for licking your face, you should reward them for not licking your face. If your dog gets near your face but does not lick it, reward them with a treat.

In addition, using positive, friendly language along with a treat will further indicate to them that not licking your face will lead to a reward (or at least not being scolded!), and they will avoid licking inside of your nose as a result.

Provide Them Distractions

If the above suggestions fail, provide your dog a meaningful distraction. There are several things you can do to get their attention diverted away from your face and toward something else.

One of the best things you can do is give them a toy to play with. This will not only amuse them, but it will also provide them with a means to lick and gnaw something else.

In addition to providing them a toy, it would be a good idea to do something that involves physical activity. This can include anything from a simple walk in the park to teaching them new tricks.

Remember – This is Normal Behavior

Dogs are complex creatures whose behavior often seems mysterious or even straight-up bizarre. However, like any rational being, their actions can be explained.

Just like humans, dogs learn from their environment and interactions from a young age. When they see and experience their mothers licking their faces, dogs will naturally learn the behavior and repeat it.

While it is entirely understandable for your dog to inherently want to lick the inside of your nose, it is a behavior you will want to discourage them from doing.

You can condition your dog to stop licking inside of noses through training, rewards, and discouragement. Not only will this help you by preventing dog slobber from getting into your nostril, it will also help your dog from contracting germs from the inside of your nose!

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