If you have a dog, it’s likely that they’ve licked your nose at least once. Sometimes, your pup might even lick your nose on a more frequent basis. So why exactly do dogs lick people’s noses? Is there a reason for it, or are they just trying to mess with you?
Here’s The Short Answer To Why Your Dog Licks Your Nose:
The most likely explanation for your dog licking your nose is because it is an instinctive behavior. But there may be other reasons as well, such as wanting to get your attention or expressing excitement and boredom.
Common Reasons Why Your Dog Licks Your Nose
A dog licking your nose can be a strange but endearing experience. It is important to understand why they lick and what their motivations are before you can decide how best to react.
Here are those reasons in a bit more detail on why your dog licks your nose.
1. Instinctive Behavior
Dogs’ instincts drive them to do certain things, like licking their family members.
This is something that they have learned since they were puppies – a mother dog shows her affection by licking her young puppies, so it’s no wonder that they repeat that action with you when they grow up by licking your nose.
Think of it as their way to show their love for you.
It’s not only limited to your nose, either. They may also lick your hands or legs, depending on the circumstances.
For example, if you take a walk in your backyard with them following you, you may find that they are more inclined to lick your legs than your face simply because it is easier to reach.
A lot of dogs are more inclined to lick you when they want something, whether it’s your attention, their meals, or playtime. Once your dog has learned that this is the way to get what they want, they will likely use it in future situations.
Here’s one example:
Let’s say you are working on your laptop at the kitchen table, and your pup is looking for some love. They may come up to you and lick your nose to ask for pets!
If this behavior works, they will likely repeat it again the next time that they want some attention from you.
In their packs, dogs lick other dogs as a way to groom one another. It serves as a means of fluffing their fur and making sure that their coats are shiny and healthy.
They likely see you as part of their pack, so they may try to take on this behavior with you, perhaps licking your nose as a way to groom you. But, since they won’t have other members of their pack around, they may turn to you instead.
4. Gather Information
Dogs are curious creatures by nature who will explore whatever they can in order to satisfy their curiosities. If your dog smells an interesting scent on your nose that they haven’t smelled before, they may lick it to investigate.
It’s a way for them to sample what they smell and figure out where the scents come from and what they mean. Perhaps they smell another animal on you or some food you ate, and they are trying to find out more about it.
5. It Feels Good
When something feels good to us, we want to repeat it. Studies have shown that when dogs lick their owners, it results in a surge of oxytocin – the same chemical that is released when we bond with others and feel love.
And this works both ways. When you respond to your dog’s licking by petting them, you are also releasing the oxytocin. This means that your pup’s licking your face may actually help you to bond with them as well as feel more relaxed.
When dogs get overstimulated, they tend to express their emotions through various behaviors or actions, and licking is one of them.
One common situation that many dog owners are familiar with is when they come home after a long day at work, and their dog is so excited to see them that they won’t stop licking!
This is a way for the pup to express how happy they are that you have returned.
On the other side of the spectrum, if your dog is feeling bored or has spent too much time alone without any stimulation, they may resort to licking your nose to pass the time.
When this behavior becomes excessive, it is often a sign that your pup needs more exercise or mental stimulation to avoid becoming bored.
How do you know if boredom is the reason for your pup’s licking? A bored dog may lick other things besides you, such as the floor, shoes, or the sofa.
If you don’t address the boredom soon, they may make other choices to express their pent-up energy, such as excessive chewing or digging.
You can help keep them entertained by providing them with toys, engaging in playtime with you, and taking them on walks around the neighborhood. If you have a full-time job, consider hiring a dog walker or enrolling them in doggie daycare to help them burn off some of that excess energy.
In the wild, one way that dogs show respect to other members of their pack is by licking them. This gesture demonstrates that they know who the alpha dog is.
In your household, if your dog sees you as being the one in charge, then they may lick your nose or face. This is a way for them to demonstrate their respect and submission to you.
9. Your Nose Tastes Good
Your nose skin contains a mix of salts, oils, and anything else you may have been exposed to throughout the day. While this combination may not be too appetizing for us, it’s very appealing to your furry friend.
Have you noticed that your dog tends to lick your nose now and then, but after you’ve eaten something, it’s swiped their tongue across your nose?
The combination of the leftover flavors from what you ate mixed with the oils on your skin is too tempting for them to pass up. If you find they lick your nose more often after you’ve been eating, it’s possible that they are simply responding to this interesting combination of flavors on or around your nose.
Should You Let Your Dog Lick Your Nose?
While many dog lovers enjoy the affectionate gesture from their pup, others may not feel comfortable with having their nose licked. The real question is whether your dog’s nose licking is causing harm to you.
According to Dr.Len K.Kaplan from Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, when your dog licks your nose, mouth, or eyes, the pathogens and saliva in their mouth can be absorbed more easily into your body (1).
Although it’s rare, it’s possible for illness-causing organisms to be transmitted this way. Therefore, it’s best to discourage your dog from licking these areas.
How to Stop Your Dog Licking Up Your Nose
While not every dog who licks your nose may do so for one of the reasons above, it’s helpful to understand what they think when they engage in this behavior. This makes it easier to prevent them from performing it if you don’t want them to lick your nose.
Here’re some tips for curbing this behavior:
1. Ignore It
The first thing that you can try is simply ignoring the behavior. When you pay attention to it, your pup may believe that their licking is rewarded and thus continue to lick you.
Your lack of response will tell them that this display will garner no reaction from you.
2. Give Your Dog Distractions
The next time your dog starts to lick your nose, try offering them an alternative, such as a chew you, a bone, or stuffed Kong. These alternatives will give them something else to focus on and make the behavior lose its appeal.
3. Give Them Enough Exercise
You can easily wear out an active dog by engaging in activities with them that help them release pent-up energy. This may be anything from a game of fetch to walks around the neighborhood or even some treadmill time if they enjoy running.
4. Change Your Body Scent
In some cases, it’s simply your face skin that smells good to your dog. If there’s something about the taste of your skin that they find appealing, then you can try to change this by washing your face more frequently or changing your face wash.
5. Reward Good Behavior
You can train your dog to understand which behaviors are good and which ones will get them in trouble. Do this by rewarding them for not licking your nose and ignoring (without making a big deal out of it) when they lick you or your face.
1. Why Does My Dog Lick My Mouth?
For the same reasons that your dog licks your nose, they also lick your mouth. These reasons include wanting to show respect and affection towards you.
It’s also likely that they are simply trying to clean up your lunch leftovers off of you after it has dried on your face.
2. Why Does My Dog Lick My Underwear?
Dogs lick their owners’ underwear because they smell the familiar scent of their owner on it. This can make them feel as if you aren’t far away from them, as your scent will still be present.