There are several reasons your dog licks you in the morning. If you notice they’re licking you more in the morning than any other time during the day, they may be letting you know they’re hungry, want to go on a walk, or that they need to be let out to use the bathroom.
We love our furry companions, but we don’t always love being startled awake by a slobbery kiss to the face. You may wonder why your dog engages in this behavior and what steps you can take to deter it — we have the answers!
What Makes A Dog Lick You?
To understand why your dog licks you in the morning, you must understand why dogs lick in the first place. It results from multiple factors relating to canine behavior, spanning everything from puppyhood to grooming to your own positive reinforcement.
Why Puppies Learn To Lick
Dogs learn licking behavior from a very young age. From the moment they are born, their mother will lick them to stimulate their breathing, and from then on, their mother will lick them to groom them, calm them, and engage in social bonding. They will even lick their mother to tell her they are hungry!
Licking is actually very important in litters of puppies since they will lick their mother’s muzzle to “say sorry” and makeup after misbehaving.
Licking is how they show they are submissive to their mother and bond with her while they are in her care. It isn’t just about staying clean, it’s about communication.
Why Adult Dogs Continue To Lick
Now that you understand why puppies learn to lick, you can begin to think about why adult dogs continue with this behavior.
Licking is an important part of canine communication! And like their littermates and their mother, you are a part of their pack. In fact, you are the alpha of the pack, and your dog will want to show you affection and bond with you.
That’s not all, though. Licking is a proven tactic to get your attention if the dog needs something.
It doesn’t matter whether you respond positively or negatively. If they are hungry, licking is a way to tell you they want a snack, just like what they would have done with their moms.
If they need something, they have your attention to go and give you more cues about what they’re looking for.
It can even be your dog’s way of showing that it is submissive. In the wild, dogs will lick their alpha’s face, who will continue to remain aloof.
When your dog licks you, it can be their way of affirming your position in the pack, showing its submission, or proactively apologizing for something they may have done, like chewing a shoe or having an accident in the house.
Why Your Dog Licks You In The Morning
Everything discussed so far gives you a sense of the variety of reasons your dog might lick your face. But what about in the morning? What would cause your dog to do that?
Think about it. You and your dog have been sleeping all night. Now that you’re up, it’s time to play and to say hello — after all, your dog loves you and is hardwired to seek your affection.
Not only that, but your dog also needs things! They are probably hungry and want to be let out. After resting up, they might have lots of energy and be asking for a walk to start their day.
Chances are it’s both, and they want their food and walk as much as they want your love.
How To Stop Your Dog From Licking You
While a dog’s licking behavior is just a part of their canine nature, you might find it to be a little excessive. If that’s the case and you want to teach them to stop, there are a couple of things you need to take into consideration.
Positive and Negative Reinforcement
Positive and negative reinforcement come up time and time again in discussing dog behavior and training.
If you react to your dog’s licking by laughing, petting them, or hugging them, they’re getting exactly what they want, even if you gently push them off of you to go about your morning.
But even if you scold them, you could further reinforce this behavior, since some dogs see negative attention as preferable to no attention at all.
One tactic to deter unwanted licking is easy: ignore the behavior.
Ignoring behavior and refusing to give your dog attention while it is doing something you don’t want is a great way to teach them to stop.
When they settle down, you can then pet and cuddle them to let them know that is the behavior you want to be greeted with in the morning.
Other Tactics To Stop Your Dog From Licking You
There are other tactics you can use to stop your dog from licking you.
You can try redirecting them with something that is incompatible with licking, like offering a chew toy or a treat. You can ignore the licking while you go and take care of what they are asking for, like getting their breakfast or taking them outside. You can even go and hop in the shower since taking a break can give your dog the time it needs to calm down.
Overall, though, remember that dogs usually lick for a reason. It’s their way of asking for something, whether it is food, a walk, or to let you know they’ve missed you.
Unless the licking is excessive, sometimes the best way to stop it is simply to acknowledge your dog.
Final Thoughts About Being Licked By Your Dog
Being licked by your dog, even first thing in the morning, is completely normal. It’s your dog’s way of communicating with you, expressing their affection and enthusiasm, reaffirming their position in the family, and telling you they need something.
It is usually harmless behavior, and unless you feel strongly about it, there’s no need to stop your dog.
If you want to deter them from acting this way and the above tactics proved ineffective, don’t hesitate to consult a professional dog trainer who will offer solutions tailored to you and your pet.
Recommended For You