Do you start mornings with slobbery wet kisses?
And nope, not from your human partner.
I’m talking about your canine significant other.
It’s a wake-up call, isn’t it?
Doggy breath first thing in the morning.
You can’t help but wonder,
“Why does my dog do this?”
Keep reading to discover:
- 7 tips to stop your dog from licking you.
- 3 surprising things you do that encourage licking.
- 14 reasons why your dog licks you in the morning.
- A step-by-step method to lessen your dog’s need to lick.
- And much, much more…
Why does my dog lick me in the morning?
Your dog licks you in the morning to wake you up so they can go potty. They will also do that to signal health issues, as self-comfort when anxious, or a way of relieving boredom. Dogs also use licking to explore their surroundings or get your attention.
14 reasons why your dog licks you in the morning (when you wake up)
#1: It’s time to go potty
Dogs are like reliable alarm clocks.
And instead of ringing, you get a face wet with kisses. And you haven’t even showered yet.
Once they know your routine, they never fail to let you know what time it is.
“I’m up hooman! I need my walkies.”
Your pooch gets excited because walks mean that they get to spend time with you.
Which is the highlight of their day.
And they finally get to go potty after holding it in all night.
Warning: Don’t let your dog hold it in too long. Doing so will result in serious health complications for your dog.
What happens if dogs hold it in for too long?
Generally, dogs can hold it in for 4 to 8 hours but that number depends on their:
- Health status.
- Activity frequency.
Going potty releases toxins and waste from your dog’s body.
If all that stays inside the bladder and intestines, these organs can develop bacterial infections.
Which will lead to chronic constipation or urinary tract infections (UTIs).
“How do UTIs happen?”
These infections happen when bacteria get inside the urethra. 14% of dogs experience UTIs.
There are 2 types of UTIs.
Simple uncomplicated UTIs happen a few times in otherwise healthy dogs.
While complicated UTIs take place in dogs with defective organs or body systems.
This makes them prone to infections.
UTIs can cause urinary stones to form. It can also cause kidney infections when the bacteria spread upwards.
“How can my dog get constipated?”
Constipated dogs can’t poop because it’s too hard.
The stool cannot go out and it forms a blockage within their colon.
According to VCA, the most common cause is when your dog eats:
- Their hair.
- Indigestible objects.
- Irritating substances.
If not treated immediately, constipation can become obstipation.
This is the severe form of the condition.
And this is what happens:
The dog’s colon will absorb moisture from the poop. Which makes it even harder to pass through.
It can result in dehydration and blood in their stools.
Read next: Why does my dog smell ammonia?
#2: You have a health issue
Dogs have such heightened senses that they can feel changes in your body.
For many years dogs have been used to detect cancer, seizures, and low blood sugar.
However, these dogs are professionally trained to do so.
Interesting fact: even untrained dogs can sense when blood sugar levels aren’t in the target range.
In one study, 67.9% of 106 owners reported that their dog would do the following:
If your dog keeps licking you, they might be trying to tell you something’s wrong.
This is what happened to 46-year old Adam Bavario. His dog saved him from heart problem complications.
His pitbull, Roxy, wasn’t trained to detect diseases.
But when Adam passed out from cardiac arrest, she was there to save him.
Roxy nudged and licked Adam until he was able to wake up. He dialed 911 for an ambulance right away.
Without his Roxy, Adam would have died there because he wouldn’t be able to get medical help.
#3: PDA (Pooch’s display of affection)
It doesn’t happen in all cases but dogs do lick to show affection.
Momma dogs lick their puppies when checking them over.
As the puppies grow they do it to bond with their littermates.
Now that your dog’s grown up, they show their love for you through licking.
But it’s not the only way dogs will show affection.
Blue Cross UK says that they also do it through:
- Tail wagging.
- Soft eye contact.
- Wiggly body when greeting.
Some breeds are also more affectionate than others.
The US Service Dog Registry lists the following:
- Great Dane.
- Bichon Frise.
- Border Collie.
- English Mastiff.
- English Bulldog.
- Miniature Schnauzer.
- Old English Sheepdog.
But it doesn’t matter what dog breed you have.
You must always remember to let your dog show affection on their own terms.
Note: Don’t force affectionate gestures on your dog. They might not be comfortable enough to do that with you.
Check out also: Top 10 Reasons Why Dogs Are So Affectionate In The Morning
#4: It’s instinct
From birth, licking is a part of doggy communication.
Puppies get encouraged to go potty by their mom through licking. It also keeps the puppies clean.
It’s a behavior that has been ingrained in them.
And it’ll probably always be there.
It’s one of their ways to interact with us.
You might also be interested in: Why do dogs lick other dogs’ ears?
#5: For security and comfort
Licking is self-rewarding behavior for your dog.
The activity releases endorphins and dopamine.
Which relieves stress in your dog by providing a feeling of comfort and pleasure.
“What is self-rewarding behavior?”
This is anything your dog does which can get them what they want.
Aside from licking your dog can do the following:
- Food stealing.
- Counter surfing.
- Raiding trash cans.
Take, for example, chase-me-games.
They satisfy your dog’s need for activity and fun with you. So they try to do it every chance they can get.
One way of doing it is not coming when called. It prompts you to go after them and…
It’s a fun game of tag for your dog.
While you’re the one huffing and puffing behind them.
This can also get dangerous if you’re outside the house or near a busy street.
Note: It’s best to always have your dog on a leash when walking outside in busy areas. It keeps them and other people safe.
The Merck Vet Manual says that anxiety is your dog’s psychological response to fear.
Your dog anticipates that something they’re scared of is about to happen.
This is why they will exhibit the following:
- Raised hairs.
- Averted gaze.
- Lowered ears.
- Crouched body.
But studies have shown that positive dog-human interactions like playing or licking are connected to oxytocin release.
It also lowered Arginine vasopressin levels which is linked to acute stress reactions and separation anxiety.
If your dog licks you while displaying the signs of anxiety, it’s their way of getting comfort from you.
Let your dog relax by removing the source of anxiety or taking them away to a quiet spot.
Dogs help anxious humans too
It goes both ways for humans and dogs.
A recent study highlighted this by interviewing 32 pet owners about their experiences during the lockdowns in the pandemic.
90% of the owners said that their pets helped them through a stressful time when human touch wasn’t available.
They said that their pets seemed to sense that they weren’t feeling alright.
And would snuggle close as if to support them.
This cuddle time reduced the stress hormone cortisol in both humans and their pets.
Reading recommendation: Top 10 Reasons Why Dogs Grab Your Arm + 5 Tips To Stop It
“I gots nothing better to do. Might as well lick my hooman.”
Boredom and doggos are a dangerous combination.
They will look for ways to occupy themselves.
This is why dogs left alone can destroy 10 rolls of toilet paper in 30 minutes.
My friend’s dog Hela once destroyed a new pair of shoes when she was a puppy.
She was home alone when it happened.
Unknown to my friend, Hela had pushed open the door to her room.
And proceeded to “play” with her shoe collection.
A sad sight met my friend when she returned.
Hela lay on top of her footwear. The remains of the newest pair scattered on the floor.
After that day, my friend vowed “Never again!” and bought a ton of enrichment toys.
By the way, Kong toys are Hela’s favorite. And she doesn’t go after shoes now.
She’s perfectly content to get food out of a Kong when her owner leaves the house.
#8: They want to comfort you
Have you seen those videos when owners pretend to cry and their dogs try to comfort them?
It’s not a coincidence.
Research has shown that dogs have developed empathic abilities towards people.
The study involved watching dog response to:
- Pretend crying.
Their owners and a stranger did the experiment. And the results reveal that dogs turn more to humans when they are pretending to cry.
The dogs would do the following:
The dogs would go to whoever was crying even when it wasn’t someone they bonded with.
And this suggests that our dogs do know when we’re sad by recognizing the cues in our body language
#9: It’s a way of bonding
Licking plays a big role in bonding.
The act releases dopamine and endorphins that make dogs feel happy and relaxed.
It’s their way of connecting to their hoomans.
But did you know that the benefits go both ways?
Bonding with your dog also releases oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins in your body.
Science has even determined that the dog-owner bond is like the mother-infant bond.
No wonder we call ourselves dog parents.
Dogs lick to groom themselves.
Mother dogs keep their puppies clean by eating their poop and pee.
That sounds gross but it’s actually normal. Imagine how dirty the nest would get if the momma dog left the puppies alone.
Grown-up dogs still do this on a daily basis.
In any case, it’s a learned behavior that’s rooted in your dog since puppyhood.
And it’s not uncommon to find them licking their paws after a walk.
If your dog’s licking you, it might be their way of saying,
“Hooman, you need a shower.”
However, there is a time when your dog will over-groom themselves leading to a serious condition.
Want to know what that is? Then keep reading till the end.
You might also want to know: Why does my dog groom me?
#11: Your doggo’s exploring
Dogs are curious about new smells and textures.
And they use all of their senses to see the world.
Just like humans they can identify:
Fun fact: they can also taste water.
However, their sense of taste isn’t as powerful as ours.
According to the AKC, dogs have about 1,700 taste receptors.
Compare that to the 9,000 that humans have.
It might seem small but dogs have a secret weapon.
Canine sense of smell is 1,000,000 times better than ours.
And what their body does is connect the two senses.
So dogs can taste by smelling. And they do it through an organ in their palate.
According to PetMD, this combination of senses is the reason why some dogs are picky eaters.
Food isn’t good if it doesn’t smell nice to them.
But never fear, dogs won’t become picky if you introduce them to different foods at a young age.
Further reading: 13 Odd Reasons Why Your Dog Licks Your Legs All The Time
#12: For attention
Your dog may have learned that licking provides them with your attention.
How does your dog learn that?
Most likely you encouraged the behavior.
They may have done it when still puppies and you responded by:
- Making high-pitched noises.
Or it may be a response when you pushed them away when they tried to lick you.
Most dogs are determined enough that they will find ways to do so.
You might also like: 11 Weird Reasons Why Your Dog Wraps His Paws Around You
#13: “Hooman! I’m hungry”
Remember that dogs can taste through smelling in reason #12?
They might be licking you because they taste the meat and potatoes you had for dinner last night.
It’s morning and your dog’s hungry so it’s also their way of saying, “Gib me food pwease.”
They could also want a throwback with you throwing up.
“Why would my dog want me to throw up?”
Momma dogs vomit food for their newborn puppies.
Yes, you read that right.
And you know what the puppies do before the throwing up?
They lick their mom’s mouth.
This is called epimeletic vomiting or care-giving vomiting.
It happens when the puppies are kept close to their mother, this study finds.
But when the mother is isolated from them and only stays for feeding time, the vomiting stops.
The researchers believe that it’s a biological urge to provide food for the puppies because they’re not able to get it themselves.
#14: Canine Compulsive Disorder (CCD)
You know that licking produces the feel-good neurotransmitters:
But, and it’s a big BUT.
Dogs can get addicted to that feeling.
And this innocent behavior will turn into canine compulsive disorder.
This condition happens when normal things that dogs do become repetitive.
For example, most dogs will lick themselves to groom.
But dogs with CCD will lick for long periods of time so that sores and lesions appear on the skin.
It can result in acral lick dermatitis.
Also known as lick granuloma, the dog’s skin becomes thick and irritated from all of the licking.
Dogs will do it because they’re:
According to the AKC, other signs of CCD are:
- Tail chasing.
- Unpredictable barking.
- Drinking too much water.
- Sucking on their flanks or a toy.
- Snapping at flies or invisible items.
Warning: Observe your dog if they have repetitive behaviors. It can be hard to correct CCD behaviors so immediate examination by a vet is needed.
Before you go to the clinic, take down notes of the behavior.
What does your dog do?
How often does it happen?
What makes your dog do it?
It will be helpful if you have evidence in photos or videos.
After examination, the vet may recommend the following for your pet:
- More exercise.
- Establish predictable routines.
- Behavioral enrichment training.
- Removal of stressful environments.
How to stop my dog from licking me in the morning? 7 tips
#1: Redirect their attention
This is one way to stop licking behaviors in your dog.
The AKC says to redirect your doggo’s attention to an activity that’s way different from licking.
- Puzzle toys.
- Snuffle mats.
- Playing fetch.
Pair these activities with high-value treats that your dog loves.
It will teach them that good things happen if they don’t lick.
#2: Move away
Teach your dog that no matter how much they lick, you’ll not pay attention to them.
Do the following when your dog starts doing it:
Step 1: Stand up and walk away from your dog. Disappear completely from their sight.
Step 2: Go into another room. This teaches your dog that licking means you disappear.
Step 3: If your dog starts licking when you pet them. Do the same as Step 1.
Step 4: Be consistent with your response. Don’t be afraid of repetitions.
Step 5: Reward your dog with treats or toys if they don’t lick you.
Given enough time, the behavior will stop.
This activity also releases the feel-good neurotransmitters released by licking.
Your dog will lick you or themselves because they are:
During these situations, the level of endorphins, dopamine, and oxytocin are low in your dog.
But with regular exercise, your dog is continually kept at a happy and contented condition.
And here’s a secret,
It does the same thing to you, too.
Now we’ve heard the benefits of exercise for years. We know that it’s good for us.
So take that long walk with your dog and bring a toy or 2 for extra fun.
You can also let Fido join in your favorite sport, such as:
More exercise also prevents your dog from doing self-rewarding behaviors.
It also stops them from developing CCD.
Most dogs have it because they’re stressed or bored.
Exercise will give your dog something to do and keep them in a relaxed state.
#4: Trick training
Teach a few tricks to your dog.
Let your pooch do it when they start licking.
This is another way of redirecting their attention by letting them engage in an activity that is the complete opposite of licking.
Watch this video by dog trainer, Zak George.
Here you’ll learn 6 simple yet awesome tricks you can teach your dog in just 1 day:
Plus, it will allow you to impress friends and guests who come over to your house.
Note: If you do let your dog do tricks in front of an audience, always reward them with their fave toys or treats.
#5: Stay clean
Take a shower and change your clothes if you’ve been outside or exercising.
If not, your dog will find the salt from your sweat yummy.
Or the smells from outside will attract them to you and induce licking behavior.
This will also prevent your dog from digesting any chemicals that you may have touched when you were outside.
#6: Give the right kind of attention
If you want to stop your dog from doing something, always reward them for doing the right thing.
Positive attention and praise will do a lot of wonders when correcting your dog.
Don’t use negative corrections such as hitting or yelling.
Warning: Negative punishment can traumatize your dog. And even cause worse behaviors. Because your dog develops negative associations or fears towards the punishment.
Always set your dog up for success by teaching them the behavior you want.
And rewarding them if they do it.
#7: Do it all the time
Training or correcting your dog may take some time.
There may be situations where your dog regresses and you have to start from scratch.
So be consistent.
You can also let your family members learn the techniques to stop your dog from licking.
Teach them what to do when your dog starts doing it. When to reward or ignore.
This helps your dog learn that they need to do it for all the hoomans in their life.