One of the best things about having dogs is getting to spend time with them. Dogs are always happy to see you, and they provide an extremely valuable friendship. They’re also fun to take on walks, play with, or just lounge around with.
Of course, being a good dog owner means you can’t just take from your furry best friend. You see, to be a good dog owner, you not only create a bond with your sweet pooch that is built on trust and mutual respect; you have to be there for her too. That means feeding her, giving her a safe and comfortable space to live, and most importantly, returning her love and companionship.
When your dog starts acting strange or does something potentially dangerous, it is important to know what is going on, and what you can and should do about it. I know I wouldn’t let myself live it down if my dog was giving off all the signs of a medical problem but I ignored it.
So, what about licking your nose? Why does my dog lick my nose? There isn’t only one reason a dog might lick her owner’s nose. With that in mind; Your dog probably licks your nose for one or more of the following reasons:
- Learned to do it as a puppy
- To get your attention
- To show love and affection
- Your nose smells (and probably tastes!) good
- To communicate
- It’s instinctive
- She’s experiencing anxiety
- You encouraged her to
- It’s a habit
- She learned it from watching other dogs
- She’s learning about you
- It’s fun!
- She’s being respectful and submissive
- She’s excited
- It’s a new behavior signifying a medical change for you or her
Learned As A Puppy
One reason your dog could be licking your nose is that she learned to do it when she was a puppy. Her mother likely licked her nose during grooming time, and she picked up on the behavior.
Furthermore, if you still have a puppy, don’t be surprised if she tries to give your nose (or somewhere else) a lick. If you don’t want your dog to lick your nose, this is an excellent time to start teaching her not to do it too!
To Get Your Attention
My dogs love attention from me, and I’m sure your dog loves it when you give her attention too. So, if you notice that your dog only licks your nose when you haven’t been giving her pets and ear scratches, it’s likely that she’s trying to get your attention.
Showing Love With Grooming
One way that dogs show their love for one another is by grooming each other. When a dog licks another dog’s nose, she’s showing her affection and care for that dog. Your dog likely feels the same way about you! And she wants you to know it too!
And on top of that, when you think about it, letting your dog lick your face is a sign of trust. By letting your dog get that close to you, you’re showing her that you trust her and that she can trust you.
Your Nose Smells And Tastes Good
Humans and dogs don’t always agree on what smells and tastes good. In fact, dogs are known to seemingly like the taste of some absolutely gross things. I don’t say that to offend you about how your nose smells and tastes, just to let you know that while it seems weird to us; it is possible your dog actually enjoys the smell and taste of your nose. And if you’re not doing much to discourage her from licking your nose, she might just go for a quick taste when she can.
Sometimes dogs lick noses (or other parts of you) as a way of communication. Let’s take a closer look at some of the things your dog might be trying to say with her tongue.
If your dog licks your nose when you come home from work or get up from a nap, it’s likely because she’s happy to see you. She might even try to give your whole face a good lick if you haven’t seen her in a while.
To Tell You She Wants Something
When one of my dogs wants breakfast or dinner, she’ll often come into whatever room I’m in and prance around until I give her some food. She’s got the timing down too; she’s usually only 10 minutes early or late for when I’d like to feed her anyways. So, I respond by giving both my dogs their morning or evening meals.
If your dog has discovered that licking your nose consistently gets the desired result of being fed, being let outside to potty, being taken on a walk, or whatever else she may be after, chances are she’ll keep licking your nose whenever she wants to tell you that.
In the wild, wolves will often greet each other by licking each other’s faces. It’s believed that this is likely because they want to get a good sniff of the other wolf’s scent. By licking each other’s faces, they’re not only being friendly, but they’re also trying to figure out what the other wolf has been up to.
While your dog might not be a wild wolf, it’s still instinctive for her to want to figure out what you’ve been up to by giving your face a good lick.
Dogs can suffer from anxiety just like humans can, and some researchers believe that excessive licking can be a sign of anxiety in dogs. Usually, dogs are licking as a way to self-soothe their anxiety. You and your nose make an excellent target because your dog loves you and feels safe with you.
If you think your dog might be anxious, talk to your veterinarian about ways to help her feel more relaxed.
You Encouraged It
Even if you didn’t knowingly do so, if you encouraged your dog to lick your nose, she’s going to keep doing it. ‘How could I have encouraged it?’ you ask?
It’s actually much easier to do than you might think. If you positively respond to your dog after they do something enough times, they’ll continue the behavior. You don’t need to respond with a grand gesture such as a treat either. A ‘good girl’, or pat on the head after she licks your nose a few times is more than enough encouragement for many dogs.
Your dog may have had a good (in her mind) reason to lick your nose at one point, but now that reason has long since passed. Once dogs start licking noses, they may continue to do it out of habit. Just like people develop habits like nail-biting or hair-twirling over time, some dogs develop the habit of frequently licking their owner’s noses as well.
Learned From Other Dogs
Dogs pick up on other dogs’ behaviors quickly. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something to be aware of if you don’t want your dog to start licking people’s noses.
If your dog has a canine friend that likes to lick noses and you don’t discourage it, your dog is likely to start licking noses as well. If you see your dog licking another person’s nose, you’ll need to interrupt the behavior and put an end to it.
Learning About You
Okay, so your dog knows you and knows you well. By learning about you, I don’t mean that your dog is getting to know you. Rather your dog is learning about what you’ve been up to recently.
Have you noticed that sometimes your dog likes to lick and sniff all over the place? That’s because dogs have incredibly strong senses of taste and smell, and they use their noses and tongues to gather information about their surroundings, people, and other dogs.
So, maybe you came home with the perfume or cologne of a new love interest on you, or you were around other dogs (gasp!). Your dog will be curious about your new smells.
And because licking often accompanies the smelling as your dog learns, when your dog licks your nose, she’s getting information about you from the scent and taste on your skin.
Licking Your Nose Is Fun!
Dogs are both easily entertained and good at entertaining themselves. So whether your dog is trying to ‘get you’ or is trying to play a game with you, one thing is for sure – she’s having fun!
Some dogs will lick their owner’s noses as a way of playing.
If you have a game that you like with your dog, she may start licking your nose as part of the game. Or she may try to initiate a play session by playfully licking your nose to get you!
Respect and Submission
Some experts believe that this behavior has been passed down from dogs’ wild ancestors through generations of domesticated dogs. Dogs may lick their pack’s leaders’ noses as a way of showing submission or respect. If your dog is licking your nose, it could be a sign that she respects and looks up to you.
Dogs work themselves up sometimes and when they do, they just can’t help themselves. One of my dogs is especially excited when I come home – no matter how long I’ve been gone. He’ll run in circles and sometimes he can’t help but to jump up on my legs. Though he knows I don’t like it and he immediately gets down and backs off, sometimes his excitement overwhelms him.
The same thing can happen to any dog. If your dog likes to show affection with a nose lick, he might still do it from time to time when he’s excited even if you’ve trained her not to.
What If It Is A New Behavior?
It’s one thing when your dog has licked your nose (for whatever reason) for most of her life. But what about a dog that suddenly starts licking her owner’s nose? If it isn’t for one of the reasons listed above (like she learned it from watching a canine pal) then it could be serious.
Dogs are good at hiding when they are sick or injured, however, if it is serious, there are often signs. One major sign is a sudden change in behavior, like constant nose licking.
Another reason that your dog may suddenly pick up nose licking is that she senses a change with you. Dogs are excellent at detecting changes in human health, some are even known to be able to smell out cancer!
But don’t worry, your dog licking your nose isn’t a likely sign you have cancer. If it is a change in your nose that prompted your dog’s licking it’s more than likely you have the sniffles either due to a minor cold or allergies.
So, your dog’s sudden behavior shift to licking your nose could signal one of you isn’t feeling 100%.
If your dog starts suddenly licking your nose and she’s never done it before, watch for other signs that she isn’t feeling well. If you see enough signs, be sure to call your vet.
Should You Let Your Dog Lick Your Nose?
Overall, it’s a matter of personal preference. However, there is a chance that your dog licking your nose could make you sick. If your dog licks and eats gross things (like most dogs do) then there’s a good chance she has bacteria in her mouth that you don’t want anywhere near you.
Personally, I would find it gross if a dog licked me anywhere near my nose, mouth, eyes, or ears. I’m also that person who immediately washes their hands after a dog licks them, so maybe I’m more obsessed with cleanliness than most dog owners.
How To Stop A Dog That Licks Your Nose?
Stopping a dog that licks your nose is similar to stopping most dog behavior that you don’t want. The first step is to figure out why your dog is licking your nose. Hopefully, the reasons I went through above helped you figure out your dog’s motivation. With this in mind, you can use one or more of the following ideas to get your dog to quit licking your nose.
The ‘no’ command is always a good place to start. You’ll likely need to use this command more than once for your dog to understand that you always (not just this one time) don’t want her to lick your nose. Don’t get frustrated or angry, just continue to firmly use the ‘no’ command each time your dog tries to lick your nose.
If your dog is licking your nose as part of a game or because you encouraged the behavior then make sure to stop encouraging the behavior. You can go even further than that and either ignore the nose licking attempts (besides the ‘no’ command) or distract and redirect your dog’s attention away from you before she thinks of licking your nose.
Summary: Why Do Dogs Like Licking People’s Noses?
There are many reasons why dogs lick noses, but one thing is for sure – they don’t do it because they think our noses are gross! Next time your furry friend starts giving your face some extra attention with her tongue, try not to cringe too much – she could be doing it just because she loves you (or wants something from you).
There are a number of other reasons that could also help explain why your dog may be licking your nose. It could be a sign of submission, a habit developed over time, or even uncontained excitement. Finally, your dog may be licking your nose because there is a change in your or her health.
If your dog starts suddenly licking your nose and she’s never done it before, look for other clues that your pooch isn’t feeling 100%. If necessary, call your vet.
Ultimately, whether or not you let your dog lick your nose is a matter of personal preference.
However, there is a chance that your dog licking your nose could make you sick. If you want to stop your dog from licking your nose, the best way to do so is to figure out why she’s doing it and then take steps to prevent her from doing it again.