Why Does My Dog Lick Me In The Morning? (7 Reasons + Solutions)
Dogs are special pets and their bonds with us humans are hard to top. Sure, other animals might have strong bonds with their owners too, but overall, you can’t do much better than getting a pet dog.
There are all sorts of reasons why dogs make such great companions. They’re faithful, for one thing, and they’re always happy to see you, no matter how bad your day has been. They’re also good at making you laugh, even if it is unintentional.
To do our part we need to take care of our dogs in return. Sure you feed your dog, take him for walks, and even coddle him when he acts scared of flies. However, what about the weird things your dog does? It’s important to take the time to learn why your dog is acting strangely.
Some dogs bark when you hug a friend, others might howl at a ringing phone and other dogs might sniff your ears. If your dog does anything odd, you’ll want to make sure it’s not a sign of distress or even a medical emergency.
So what about dogs that lick their owners every morning? Why does my dog lick me in the morning? The quick and easy answer is that it likely comes down to one of the following reasons:
- Behavior issues
- To wake you up
- To learn
- You taste yummy
The explanations for each of these reasons can be varied. If you think you know which issue is likely causing your dog to lick you in the morning, feel free to jump to that section (and the section on correcting the behavior!). If you still aren’t sure, read the detailed explanation for each of the reasons, and you’ll hopefully discover what is going on with your good boy.
Unlike we humans, dogs don’t have a lot of ways to communicate. Using their tongues, barks and body language is about all they have to rely on. So, when your dog is licking you, in the same manner, every day, they are likely trying to tell you something. How serious that message is though, might be up for interpretation.
Your dog’s morning licks could be for a very simple reason; to say ‘Hi!’. Dogs are social and enjoy greeting each other and people, especially friends and family. If your dog is licking you in the morning he could just be greeting you as he starts his day.
Your Dog Needs To Go Potty
Your dog could also be telling you something more serious as well. If your dog has to go to the bathroom and you’re not getting up when he wants you to, he may start licking you as a way of telling you that he needs to go outside. You’ll likely be able to tell your dog needs something by the body language that accompanies his licking.
If you don’t keep a regular schedule your dog may only lick you in the mornings to go potty once in a while. Try to pay attention to both the time of day and the length of time between his nightly potty break and when he needs to go in the morning.
Dogs like habit and routine so the more predictable his schedule is the easier it will be on him.
Your Dog Is Hungry
Similar to needing to go potty, your dog might be trying to communicate something else important by licking you in the morning. Again, if your routine is in constant flux, do your best to make sure your dog is eating breakfast at about the same time daily.
Having a behavior issue doesn’t necessarily mean your dog is misbehaving. Most dogs are people pleasers and go out of their way to make sure they are doing what we want of them. Although without proper training they might not know what we want!
Behavior issues are often developed as coping mechanisms because of something else that has happened in your dog’s life. Anxiety, obsessive compulsive behavior and accidentally telling your dog you want him to lick you in the morning are all behavior issues that could lead your dog to lick you in the morning.
Several things can trigger a dog’s anxiety and there are several ways a dog may express that he is anxious. Licking you (in the morning or any other time) is a way many dogs will try to handle their anxiety. Pay attention to everything else that is going on when your dog licks you in the morning. If you notice a common pattern, say your dog only licks you on mornings when there is a thunderstorm, your dog’s morning lick is likely a sign of anxiety.
Obsessive Compulsive Behavior
Just like humans, dogs get bored. Sometimes, extremely bored. To handle the boredom, some dogs will do odd things to entertain themselves. After a while, that odd behavior (such as licking you in the morning) becomes part of their nature. Even if they find themselves in a new situation where they are never bored, they will continue with the odd behavior they developed to handle the boredom.
Make sure your dog gets plenty of physical and mental stimulation so that he never develops any obsessive compulsive behavior.
You Encouraged The Behavior
Maybe it was done completely by mistake, but in some way, you may have encouraged your dog to lick you in the mornings. My dogs love to say hello to me when we all wake up. They run up to my side of the bed, smiles on their faces and tails wagging. I happen to love our morning routine too, so I give them some pats on the head and ear scratches as we say good morning to each other.
Perhaps your dog licked you in the morning a few times and you patted him on the head or said ‘Good boy!’ or in some other way told him it was a good behavior. Even if you don’t remember, your dog likely does, and as the people pleaser he is, he’ll continue to give your a morning lick because it’s what (he thinks) you want him to do.
Your Dog Loves You
If you’re good to your dog, there’s no doubt that he loves you a lot. Dogs love showing their love for us and often it’s through licking. Dogs will frequently lick their pack members as a sign of affection or to show deference. And lucky you! You’re part of the pack!
While some may see dog saliva as gross, your dog’s love is anything but. So, whether he is excited to start his day with you, wants your attention, or is attempting to bond, licking you in the morning is a way some dogs show their love for their owner.
Days off can be a wonderful thing. One of my favorite parts of having a day off of work is not having to use my alarm clock. However, with two dogs, I can never sleep in too late. As I discussed above, dogs do very well with routines. If you take your dog for a walk, let him out to potty, or do anything important at the same daily time, your dog probably won’t let you sleep much later than that.
Something might be different than normal and your dog wants to know what is going on. Maybe you switched morning lotions and now use one that smells different. Or maybe you hugged a new date good night and have some of their scents on you. For some reason, your dog feels the need to investigate you and licking is an excellent way to do so. If something has changed this is a good explanation for why your dog is now licking you in the mornings.
You Taste Good
If you’re not sure why your dog is licking you in the morning, it might be because you taste good to your dog. Say what!? It’s true, dogs don’t have the same idea of what tastes and smells good as you and I. So, there really could be something about you in the mornings that taste good to your dog.
Things such as your salty, sweaty skin, your night or morning cream, and soap from your morning shower all might make you taste good to your dog.
Dogs sometimes lick as a sign of submission. Your dog may be licking you as a way to show deference or respect to you. While dogs licking their owners is often considered a sign of love or affection, it can sometimes also be a way for a dog to be submissive.
Is It Okay For My Dog To Lick Me In The Morning?
The answer to this question depends on two things for the most part. First of all, where does your dog lick you in the morning? If your dog wakes you up with a lick to your face, that’s not the most hygienic thing and could result in you getting sick or having an infection. If your dog is licking your legs just before you jump in the shower then the only thing that matters is whether or not you are okay with it.
Secondly, are you okay with it? If you are okay with your dog licking you in the morning and your dog doesn’t lick you in a way that could make you sick, then it is okay for them to do so.
If your dog might make you ill, or you’re not okay with them licking you in the morning then it isn’t okay.
How Do I Stop My Dog Licking Me In The Morning?
I’m not a fan of dogs licking me anywhere so I wouldn’t be okay if my dogs licked me in the morning and would be looking for a way to stop them as soon as possible. Obviously, we want to be humane with our dogs too. With those two things in mind remember: DO NOT PUNISH YOUR DOG for licking you in the morning.
Your dog likely doesn’t know you don’t want his morning licks which means if you punish him you’ll only confuse him. Plus, punishing a dog usually gives slower results than properly training him to begin with.
So, what are the best ways to stop your dog from licking you in the morning? The following methods are tried and true for correcting your dog’s behavior in many situations.
Address The Reason
The first thing to do is to figure out why your dog is licking you in the morning. If your dog’s licking is from obsessive behavior, you’ll likely use a different method to change your dog’s behavior than if he is licking to say ‘hi’.
If it is easy for you to change, you may decide to simply take away the reason your dog licks you in the morning. For instance, switching lotions or making sure to stick to your dog’s morning routine and schedule can easily stop the behavior.
For other reasons, the techniques below should greatly help.
Train Your Dog The ‘No’ Command
Teaching your dog to understand what you mean when you say ‘no’ and to properly react to it is one of the most important commands you can train your dog to understand. Surprisingly, many people seem to think dogs understand ‘no’ intuitively or will pick it up if you yell it at them a few times.
This isn’t the case with most dogs. By doing a little bit of work and training your dog to understand ‘no’, you’ll be able to easily communicate what you want your dog to stop doing.
When your dog licks you in the morning simply tell him ‘no’. You’ll need to use a firm voice without yelling at him. It may take many mornings but with time, your dog will learn that you don’t want him to lick you in the morning.
My old standby. I’m a big fan of positive reinforcement because it works so well. Reward your dog for not licking you when he normally would. He’ll start to associate not licking you with good things and realize that it is better than licking you.
While treats are nice, they aren’t necessary for positive reinforcement training. Some ‘good boys’ and ear scratches will go a long way.
Ignoring a dog’s licking might be easier said than done. I don’t think I could ignore a dog licking but, it might be something you can. Simply, don’t react to your dog’s licking. Especially if he is doing it for attention. Even negative attention can be enough for some dogs to continue licking you which means ignoring it will likely deter your dog from licking you in the morning.
Distract And Redirect
This is a common method used for getting dogs to stop licking you or doing most things you don’t want them to. When your dog is about to lick you, distract them with something else they enjoy and would rather do like playing fetch.
The second part is redirecting his focus. If your dog starts to lick you again, tell him ‘no’, make sure he obeys, and then immediately start playing fetch with him or give him a toy to chew on. You need to make sure your dog completely stops though otherwise, you might be training him to lick you instead. He’ll eventually learn that the only way to get what he wants is by not licking you.
Summary: Why Do Dogs Lick Their Owners In The Morning?
Dogs may lick their owners in the morning for a variety of reasons. It could be that your dog is trying to show affection, that he smells something different on you, or that he is just checking in with you. If your dog has started licking you more frequently in the mornings, take a look at what might have changed in his routine or yours to better understand why he’s doing it.
As long as you’re okay with your dog licking you and he’s not licking you in a spot that could make you sick (like your mouth!) then it’s okay for your dog to lick you in the morning.
If you want your dog to stop, there are a few different ways to train your dog to stop licking you in the morning. You can try positive reinforcement, teaching him the ‘no’ command, or ignoring his licking altogether. If you’re consistent with your training, your dog will eventually learn that he shouldn’t lick you in the morning.