Why does my dog lick my face?
Hands up if your dog regularly lunges at your face and gives it a good sloppy lick? *Raises hand*
It could be for a few reasons. They might be gearing up for a playful wrestle or just want to get your attention. Maybe you’ve been to the gym and they want to mop up the sweat (urgh).
But, ultimately, it’s a big sign of affection. Kissing is a universal sign of affection, even among dogs! They want to show you that they care - the same way that we give their bellies a rub or lunge for a big cuddle after any time spent away.
It’s to show that they love you - and here are some other signs:
- They share their toys with you. Obviously if your pooch is in a playful mood, sharing toys is a way to initiate play, but it can also be a gesture of true affection by presenting their most prized possession as a gift for you to enjoy as well
- Does your dog ever come up and nudge you with their nose? This can be a sign of affection, a way for your dog to say “Hey, I like you!” Or maybe you’re just in their way…
- They maintain eye contact. Research suggests that love could be behind that puppy stare. When dogs and their owners gaze into each other's eyes, all get a boost in their circulating levels of oxytocin — a hormone thought to play a role in trust and emotional bonding
- Does your dog ever stretch out next to you and let out a long, happy sigh? Soft vocalisations like sighs and low groans are signs of contentment in dogs. It means they feel safe and comfortable by your side
- The lean… When your dog comes up to you and leans their full weight against your legs, they’re showing you they trust you implicitly. For many dogs, the lean is like a full-body hug
- Your dog likes to sleep with you? Dogs are inherently alert to threats in their environment. They lay in a defensive position when sleeping in the wild, place their noses to the wind to pick up threatening scents and their backs to other pack members to form a protective circle. The fact that they are willing to snuggle with you is a sign that they feel safe with you and consider you part of their pack. You are part of their inner family circle
- Do you have a little shadow? If you feel like you can't move around your house without a pup at your heels, consider yourself loved. Dogs cling to you for more than just security - they can’t get enough of your company!
What the experts say
Studies on dog brain activity have found that, when presented with a selection of different smells, dogs were more excited by their human’s scent than by any other smell including, notably, food. Research also tells us some dogs prefer praise over food (or want both equally!)
Another study indicates that dogs’ brain activity goes through the roof when they listen to happy sounds, like praise. It turns out there may be many similarities between the way both humans and dogs process sounds.
And as we probably all suspected, dogs are naturally wired to pick up on changes in our voice and mood. That’s why, of all the animals in the world, dogs are our best friends. N’awwwww! Now where’s Molly for a cuddle…