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Cuddling with our fur babies can be one of the best parts of being a dog owner. Sometimes, your canine companion might even shower you with some slobbery kisses during those cuddle times!
While licking might not seem like unusual behavior for dogs, you might find yourself thinking, “Why does my dog lick me when we cuddle?”
Your dog might lick you when cuddling because they want your attention, whether that’s food, walk, or play. Your dog may decide to groom you while you cuddle because they like how you taste, or they simply want to show their affection. Your dog might also lick if they feel you’re in distress.
Let’s dive deeper and uncover the meaning behind your dog’s habit of licking you when you cuddle, and whether that’s something you should worry about.
Why Does My Dog Lick Me When We Cuddle?
Let’s take a deeper dive into 6 reasons why your dog loves to shower you with kisses when cuddling together. Many dogs have their own behavioral patterns, but keep in mind that it might not just be one reason why your dog might lick you when you cuddle. Your dog could have multiple reasons for doing it.
Understanding the context and the setting your dog is in when they do something can help you figure out the reasons why your dog does what they do.
Reason 1: Your Dog Likes The Attention
Dogs can be very similar to human babies in the sense that they have similar needs and wants. Your dog might lick you when you are cuddling because your dog wants to get your attention. After all, you are most likely to be your dog’s favorite person so having your attention could be as good as receiving a treat.
Besides being the star, your dog might want to keep your attention because they might not get enough of it during the day. Especially when we have busy schedules with work or school, it can be hard to spend time doing something extra with our pups. Your dog might be feeling a little left out if you don’t give them some attention.
Finding that time can be tough especially since we come home tired from a long day of work. However, there are a few ways to incorporate your dog into your daily routine that’ll help them feel less left out.
For example, if you like to go for runs, you can take your pup and your other dog if you have two along for the exercise. You can also let your dog play with a few toys while you’re working around the house. But if your dog isn’t too excited when it comes to playing with toys, you can entertain them with other things as well!
Take a look at this video of a pup loving the attention from their owner when playing:
Reason 2: Your Dog Is Showing Affection
We love our canine companions so much and give them so much attention that they might try to find ways to reciprocate the feeling! Your dog might lick you when cuddling because they are showing how much they love you.
The most common way for dogs to show is through licking, however, even though licking may seem like the universal way dogs show affection, different breeds may have their own unique ways of showing their affection for their owners. For example, what might be signs of affection for a boxer, might not be the same as those of a German shepherd.
Reason 3: Your Dog Is Grooming You
Dogs might lick each other to groom each other, also known as allogrooming. So, your dog might lick you when you cuddle because they want to groom you. Grooming of this sort is referred to as social grooming, it helps strengthen social structures, improve family bonds, and increase companionship between two animals, in this case, the bond between a dog and their owner.
Grooming is another expression of closeness and shows how much your pooch trusts you as well as how much they want to take care of you.
Check out this video of some dogs grooming each other:
Reason 4: Your Dog Is Showing Empathy
Dogs are a lot smarter than we may think! Your dog might lick you when cuddling because they are showing empathy.
According to canine psychologist, Dr. Coren, dogs are similar to human children of around 2 to 2.5 years old in terms of mental abilities. He, along with other behaviorists and researchers, suspects that dogs can feel different emotions such as sadness, happiness, anger, and fear. However, it’s not certain whether dogs can actually perceive these emotions or any other feelings including empathy.
Dogs are also thought to have emotional intelligence, the ability to be aware of one’s emotions and the emotions of others. Using a combination of observing their owner’s body language and sounds, dogs are thought to determine their owners’ feelings.
You might cuddle your dog when you aren’t feeling well or when you’re feeling down. Your actions and body language could tell your dog that you’re in need of some licks for comfort!
Reason 5: Your Dog Wants Food
Your dog might lick you while cuddling because they want food, especially if it’s almost eating time!
You could just be relaxing with your pup and cuddling, but your dog might be getting hungry. One way your dog might try to gain your attention, as mentioned earlier, is by licking you. Since your dog cannot use words to communicate with you, they might try to lick you to let you know that they want some food.
If you notice that your dog tends to lick you around their dinner time then they may have gotten used to licking you as a way to say, “I want to eat!”
Reason 6: Your Dog Likes The Taste
Dogs have a different sense of taste since they have fewer taste buds so something that tastes horrible to us might taste good or simply interesting to our canine companion. They might not even like the taste as much as they like the smell and with a powerful nose like that they may end up licking random and unexpected things including ourselves.
It might sound strange, but your dog might have discovered that your sweat tastes good specifically the salt. Another reason your dog might be licking you when cuddling is that they might like the smell of the hair products you use or shower gel. Additionally, some lotions smell so good, your dog might want to eat it!
Reason 7: You’re Rewarding This Behavior
Dogs respond really well to a specific method of training and that’s positive reinforcement. According to HumaneSociety “positive reinforcement training uses a reward (treats, praise, toys, anything the dog finds rewarding) for desired behaviors.”
So, perhaps you need to consider how you respond every time your dog starts licking you while you’re cuddling. You may be rewarding your dog by praising them, or even by simply petting them or having a positive tone each time they lick you.
As long as your dog thinks you’re pleased with them licking you in general or during cuddle times, they’ll continue to do so, hoping to please you and getting rewarded for their good behavior.
Should You Worry About Your Dog Licking You When You Cuddle?
Licking you while cuddling is usually not something to worry about. This behavior is most commonly done to show that your dog cares about you and appreciates everything you do for them!
However, while licking is normal dog behavior, if you notice that it’s something that disrupts your dog’s quality of life, it can be concerning. If you suspect that your dog seems bothered and acting unusual, like licking and gagging or vomiting, it is best to visit your veterinarian.
Or perhaps you simply don’t enjoy your dog slobbering kisses, in that case, you may want to consider redirecting this behavior through training.
Licking you while cuddling might not seem like a significant or meaningful action, but there are many more reasons why your dog would do that.
Understanding our dogs’ behaviors allows us to communicate with our canine companions better. Better communication helps us to know when our dogs need help and a stronger relationship. Even licking you when you’re cuddling together can help you learn more about your dog!