Why Does My Dog Lick Me When We Cuddle (Explained)

Does your dog slither you with dog slobber each time you hold him close? This act could be fun or irritating, depending on the dog owner. However, why do dogs do this? And how do you stop this behavior if you’re not okay with it? Read on to find out. 

Why does my dog lick me anytime we cuddle?

The most straightforward answer to the widely asked question is that your dog loves you, and licking you after a cuddle is his way of showing that affection.

Dogs convey their message of love in various ways, and one obvious way they do this is by giving a lick whenever you hold them close. It’s a dog’s way of saying they love you too! 

In another context, your dog licking you after or during a cuddle doesn’t necessarily translate to doggy love. There could be subtle reasons embedded in this sometimes quirky behavior. 

A dog lick during a cuddle could also mean they require something of you. This is very rational behavior in dogs. And in most cases, they need to be let out, play, or require your attention which is why they may opt to do this.

Whatever the case may be, these little signs are often ignored due to our inability to understand our dogs. So if you’re left out on why dog licks you when you cuddle, here are some reasons why:

It’s a dog’s way of showering affection on its human companion

When dogs lick their human caregivers, in most cases, they’re trying to shower love on them. This act is totally natural and is embedded in dogs right from birth. 

When pups are born, their mum often licks them as a show of love for their pups. Besides the lick to clean them up after their birth, mother dogs often lick their pups to shower them with love, and they become fond of this behavior as they grow older.

Another scenario is in the pack settings where dogs snuggle up against each other; your dog may lick you up each time you hold him close to cuddle him. At this point, he’s trying to show affection and love for you. 

They see you as the leader of the pack 

Dogs are very strict with pack rules, and they stick to them once established. So one reason your dog may lick you up when you snuggle with them or give them a cuddle is that they respect your status as the pack leader.

Being a pack leader for your dog isn’t much of a big deal as most dog owners think. Dogs will naturally delegate their caregiver to be the pack leader when they (caregivers) constantly provide their needs and show love to them. 

So if you show as much love to your dog while providing for their needs, your dog already sees you as the pack leader. 

In a similar scenario, dogs in a pack often distinguish lower-status dogs from high-status dogs by showing respect. This respect is often seen when the lower-status dogs lick high-status dogs to show respect and loyalty.

So the next time your dog licks you when you cuddle, he may not necessarily be showering doggy love or affection but showing respect to you as the pack leader. 

They want something from you

Dogs are instinctive by nature and will follow through with habits developed from a tender age.

For instance, wild pups are often seen licking their mother’s mouth after a hunting spree. In this case, they’re requesting their share of the catch. While those young pups cannot yet take down meat chunks, they often settle for the ones regurgitated by their mums.

This idea is hugely translated to when dogs lick their caregivers during a hug or snuggle. Your dog is trying to tell you that he’s hungry and needs to be fed.

dog licks owner when they cuddle together

It’s their way of saying hello

A dog’s mouth serves a variety of purposes over the course of its life. One obvious purpose of a dog’s mouth is to communicate with its surroundings. 

Whenever you get close to greet your dog, you may say some nice words, stroke, or cuddle them. Dogs can’t do this, so they’ve figured one way to do this is to lick you up. 

Dogs can’t speak human language; hence, they cannot say, “hey there,”  or “hello my loving caregiver.” However, one thing they can do is lick you when you cuddle them.

And the more positively you respond to this gesture from your dog, the more intense the licks may get.

They need your attention

Dogs are very good with association. They will easily learn to associate a smiling face or cuddle with a show of attention. When your dog gives you a lick when you cuddle him, he may be requesting your attention to either play, feed him, give him water or take him out.

So whenever your dog licks you during a cuddle, if you love it, you’ll reciprocate the gesture by praising or patting your dog. Your dog understands this and will lick further to get even more of your attention. 

Your dog may be showing empathy

Dogs are keen observers and will easily tell the difference between a happy person and someone who’s sad or distressed. 

When a dog senses distraught in a person’s mood, his mind becomes boggled, and in most cases, your dog will come into your space to cuddle while licking on you simultaneously. This simple act is a show of empathy from your dog. 

Your dog will do everything in its power to make you feel better, and that includes licking on you. 

So the next time your dog licks on you when you cuddle next to him, it may just be because he notices that you’re not in a good mood, so he’ll try to cheer you up by licking you. 

They just want a taste of your skin

Most dogs become attracted to the taste of salt on sweaty skin, which can be seen when dogs lick on their owners after an exercise or strenuous session. 

It’s more obvious that they lick your face during a cuddle, and that’s because it readily becomes accessible to them when you draw them in for a cuddle. Another reason is that your face is one part of your body that won’t be covered by cloth. So they will easily glean off tasty salt on your skin.

Dogs will do this if they love the taste of your skin. Also, if they tend to lick on your hand or mouth area when you cuddle them, it could be that you’ve got leftover food particles on there, and they’re trying to steal a taste. 

Is it okay for my dog to lick me when I cuddle him?

There’s absolutely nothing to worry about if your dog licks you when you cuddle. As your dog is just trying to shower you with lover and affection. However, not everyone finds this behavior exactly satisfying. Hence, they may want to put a stop to it.

If you’re bothered about your dog licking you up when you cuddle, here are effective ways to change this behavior. 

How to stop your dog from licking you when you cuddle him

It is impossible to make your dog completely stop licking you (you may feel less loved by your dog), but you can reduce the frequency at which your dog licks you by following a few steps.

Also, be sure to be precise about what you want your dog to do so as not to let off mixed signals. This may lead your dog to be confused and, in response, lick you even more when you cuddle them. 

Move away

Whenever your dog initiates the lick during a cuddle, what you can do is move that part of your body. While doing this, make sure not to let off a negative cue, so your dog doesn’t build up anxiety or feel unwanted. If this doesn’t work, you can gently switch positions or move away from the room.

Take a bath after exercises and when sweaty

If you notice your dog licking your skin when you’re sweaty, then it’s obvious he is after the salty taste of your skin.

When we engage in strenuous activities, our body releases components which includes salt solution. 

Therefore, you should have a bath each time you engage in strenuous exercises to take the sweat off your skin. This way, your dog will pay less attention to licking you and more attention to just cuddling you. 

Reach their exercise limit

A weird but effective strategy that works well in stopping your dog from licking you each time you cuddle him is to work him out. 

Dogs will naturally shower you with every ounce of affection (licking) because they have the energy to do it. While this can often get irritating for some dog owners, you can work your dog so that they’re drained of pent-up energy. This way, they’ll just snuggle in for a cuddle rather than lick with every bit of energy. 

Distract their attention

When you cuddle your dog and he goes in for the lick, you can always serve a distraction to get their attention off you. A favorite toy or tasty treat should do the trick.

Constantly reiterate and praise your dog when they do what you want

An excellent way to stop bad behaviors in dogs is by encouraging good ones. Whenever your dog licks you when you cuddle him, you can move away, and if he stops, you praise him and offer a treat.

Consistent reinforcement is essential to attaining a well-behaved dog. In this case, consistently praising good behavior and discouraging the ones you don’t want will help stop your dog from licking you whenever you cuddle him.

Final thoughts 

If your dog licks you when you cuddle him, it’s mostly a show of doggy love and affection. In most cases, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this gesture. 

However, not all dog owners are overly comfortable having dog saliva slithering over their faces or arms. In this case, you can show your dog what behavior is acceptable and which is not. 

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