Why Does My Dog Lick Me in the Morning? Good or Bad?

labrador puppy licking the face of woman in bed in the morning

Dogs are curious creatures by nature; they’re constantly exploring their surroundings and trying to make sense of the world around them. As a dog parent, you may have noted your furry friend licks you each morning. In most cases, the licking happens when you get to your dining table for breakfast, leaving you wondering if your canine friend is hungry.

Your dog licks you in the morning to portray love and companionship. In most cases, licking is not bad as it’s the way dogs express bonding and affection towards their loved ones, including other dogs. However, excessive licking may signify stress, anxiety, or pain.

In this article, I’ll discuss why your furry friend licks you every morning. You’ll know when this behavior is good, when it’s a source of concern, and what actions to take, especially if you’re a new dog owner. Keep reading to learn about this curious behavior and what you can do about it.

Why Do Dogs Like Licking?

Dogs like licking because it’s their natural behavior that begins in puppyhood. When puppies are born, they’re unable to see or hear. Their mother licks them clean and stimulates them to urinate and defecate. The licking continues as they grow older as a way of socializing with their littermates.

a beautiful dog licking her smiling owner while she working with laptop in the kitchen at home

As the puppies turn into adult dogs, licking becomes a way of showing submission, respect, and affection to their owners. When your dog licks you, they’re trying to show that they love and care for you.

A study showed that dogs’ brain activity increases when they bond with their owners through licking and other social interactions. According to this study, the oxytocin hormone in dogs gives them a sense of pleasure and positive reinforcement when interacting with their parents.

In most cases, there is no need to worry when you see your pup licking you in the morning. The best thing to do is to enjoy the moment and return the affection by petting the dog.

Reasons Why Your Dog Licks You in the Morning

Dogs lick their owners for various reasons. The main ones are:

They Are Displaying Affection

Dogs are highly affectionate animals. They show their love by wagging their tails, nudging you with their noses, and licking you. If your dog licks you in the morning as soon as you wake up, they’re trying to show how much they care for you.

Moreover, a morning lick may mean the pup was missing you. The moment the dog notices you leave the bedroom, the best way to quench their thirst of missing you is through licking.

As a loving canine parent, you should reciprocate the favor by depicting that you love your dog too. You can do this by:

  • Giving the dog a morning walk or run.
  • Stroking the dog.
  • Playing fetch with the dog in the morning.
  • Spending quality time with the pup before you leave for work.
  • Feeding the pup her favorite breakfast food.

The list is endless, but the point is to show your furry friend that you love them just as much as they love you.

They Are Missing Your Attention

The San Francisco SPCA explains that dogs are highly social creatures that crave their owners’ attention. The pup may feel neglected if you’re not around much or spend most of your time at work. Therefore, the best way to get your attention is by licking you as soon as you’re available.

Creating a routine where you and your furry friend can spend quality time together is essential. Spending time with your canine friend in the morning can be a great way to start your day and show them how much you care.

They Enjoy the Taste of Your Skin

Have you ever licked your skin to see how it tastes? Well, dogs do this too. Dogs have a keen sense of smell and can detect different scents on your skin.

Dogs also like the taste of salt because it’s a natural flavor enhancer. If you’ve been sweating during the night or working out in the morning, your pup may lick you to enjoy the salty taste of your skin.

The dog may also lick you in the morning to enjoy the minuscule remnants of your supper or body lotions.

You must, however, be careful about dog licking after using some body lotions. For instance, body creams for psoriasis are harmful to dogs and can be catastrophic.

They Are Hungry

If you’re a parent, you know that a child will come to ask for food when hungry. What about your furry friend now that she can’t talk verbally? She uses cues to tell you the same.

In the wild, puppies lick their mothers’ lips to indicate they are hungry. The same behavior continues as they grow older. Therefore, your dog may lick you in the morning if she is hungry. Such licks are accompanied mainly by tail wagging.

For Positive Reinforcement

Dogs are brilliant animals that can quickly learn different tricks and commands. When you train your dog, you may give them a treat as a form of positive reinforcement. 

When it comes to licking, it might be that you gave the dog a treat sometime back when she licked you in the morning. Therefore, the pup associates the act of licking with getting a reward and will continue doing it even when there’s no treat around.

Now you know why your dog may choose to lick your nose or your ears in the morning! Interesting creatures eh?

When To Worry About the Licking Behavior

In most cases, a dog licking you is not an issue to worry about as it’s normal behavior. However, you should be concerned if you notice excessive licking.

Why Is Excessive Licking Bad?

Excessive licking in dogs is bad because it indicates that something is wrong. It’s a communication cue to tell you that the dog needs special attention.

If your dog is excessively licking you to the point of causing bruising or breaking skin, it might be a sign of an underlying medical condition. The condition could either be psychological or physical.

For instance, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety that can make dogs repeat a given behavior obsessively. Thus, your dog lickig you excessively could be a sign of OCD.

Other medical conditions that might cause a dog to excessively lick you include:

  • Allergies
  • Dry skin
  • Pain
  • Itchiness

When you notice your dog excessively licking you, it’s best to seek professional help from a veterinarian. The vet will diagnose the underlying medical condition and give the dog the necessary treatment.

You should also be concerned if your dog obsessively licks other things like furniture, floors, or walls.

Stress and Anxiety

Excessive licking can also be an indication of stress and anxiety. If your dog is new in the house or there have been recent changes in the family, she may start licking excessively to cope with the stress.

Other causes of stress and anxiety in dogs include:

  • Loud noises
  • Traveling
  • Changes in routine

The good news is that you can quickly fix this problem by creating a calm environment for your dog. You can do this by ensuring the dog has enough exercise, a good diet, and plenty of rest.

You should also avoid leaving your dog alone for extended periods, as this increases the chances of developing separation anxiety. If you must leave your furry pet alone, try to do so gradually to allow them to get used to being alone.

How To Stop the Licking Behavior in Dogs

You can do the following if you’re uncomfortable with your furry friend licking you:

  • Distract the dog: You can call your dog by name or make loud noises whenever they start licking you.
  • Ignore the behavior: Dogs are quick learners, and they will quickly catch on that the licking behavior is not getting them the attention they want.
  • Training: You can train your dog not to lick you using positive reinforcement. For instance, you can give the dog a treat whenever they respond to your “stop licking” command.

Final Thoughts

It’s natural for dogs to lick their owners, especially in the morning. Therefore, this is not bad behavior as it demonstrates affection, love, and companionship.

That said, excessive licking in dogs may indicate OCD, stress, or a medical condition. Thus, you should consult your veterinarian if your furry friend is licking you excessively.

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