Why Does My Dog Lick Me While I’m Sleeping (11 Reasons Explained)

Does your doggy lick you while you sleep? You’re not alone in this. Many dog owners also ask the question, “why does my dog lick me while I’m sleeping?” 

Sure it’s a little bizarre, but you’ll discover why your dog puts up this sometimes annoying behavior in this article as you read on.

So, Why does my dog lick me in my sleep?

Dogs lick you while you’re sleeping because they’re highly affectionate animals and will slither you with dog slobber to show that. Also, a dog might lick you up to get your attention. And in some cases, they love how you taste—which is a little bizarre.

But wait – there’s more:

There are various reasons your dog gets all saliva on you when you sleep. This article will explain as much as you need to understand.

They sense something

Dogs have been known to have a sixth sense. Most dogs are trained to act as support dogs to people with sleep disorders, physical limitations, etc. 

While you may not be suffering from any of the above, your dog can also sense breathing difficulties while you’re asleep such as sleep apnea. So they’ll lick you to wake you up.

P.S: most support dogs are trained to detect seizures and can detect an impending seizure 50 minutes before its occurrence.

It’s a pack thing

Dogs or canines generally are pack animals, meaning they bond with those in the pack. This bond and affection can be seen when dogs groom each other.

They can’t get a hold of a brush or some fancy hair tool, so they use their tongue—which seems to work out well. 

My Labrador does the same thing to our 8-month-old Yorkshire Terrier when she’s sleeping.

It’s a behavior that’s common in a pack setting. So if your dog licks you while you have a nap or sleeping, it may be trying to give you a hairdo. 

They’re very adept timekeepers

Sure, alarm buzzes can help you get off your bed. But you can probably choose to avoid that. One thing that works better than an alarm is a fervent licker.

Think about this for a moment:

Dogs are very adept at keeping to time and almost always succeed in being up and going when it’s time.

This is often the case if you’ve got a special routine with your dog. This can be anything—from early morning walks to let them out so they can go.

dog licking person with alarm clock to wake them up

Unlike humans, who can choose to break a routine, dogs don’t see it that way.

The moment they notice a change in routine, they jump in to try and fix it up. This includes waking you up early every morning.

Also, dogs don’t understand weekends. So, while you understand it’s a few days to rest, your pooch doesn’t.

Hence, your dog will try to fix this by waking you up. This may include a few behaviors like whining, pulling your blankets and licking you up till you wake up. 

Also, they may just be used to getting you up by morning and what better way to do it than licking you up. 

It helps calm them down

Dogs are wired a little differently. As such, there are loads of unusual things they find satisfying. 

When dogs become tense or anxious, they may lick you to calm them down. 

My dog has a weird 10-minute ritual it carries out almost every day before going to bed.

Initially, I was scared it might get out of hand, but with a little research, I got to know why it does it.

When dogs lick you, they’re trying to bond.

This singular act triggers the release of dopamine and endorphins, which relaxes and calms them down.

So once they figure this out, they’ll be more likely to do it more often, so they feel good.

They’re obsessed with it

Notice how puppies lick their mother’s mouth and vice versa? It’s a common thing with puppies while growing up. But that’s the thing, and it becomes part of them.

Your dog will hold on to behavior they consider dear to them, including licking. If you notice your dog licking you in your sleep, it may be that they can’t help it.

They love how you taste 

A few reasons dogs may lick you up are a little bizarre, like loving the taste of sweaty skin during sleep.

If your dog frequently licks your skin while you’re sleeping, there’s every possibility that you sweat during your sleep.

When you sweat, the body releases many components, including sodium (Na+), responsible for the salty skin. Dogs often like this and will lick to have a fill. 

Also, it would help if you looked out for when they lick you up. It could be that you had a scented lotion or used a body wash before going to bed. Dogs easily get drawn to scents that are appealing to them.

It’s how they communicate with the things around them.

Dogs explore the world with their tongues. While you sleep, a dog typically tries to taste everything it finds intriguing or interesting, including your face.

You might be wondering why it’s more common while you sleep.

That’s because when you’re awake, you’re basically upright, and your dog cannot reach your face. So they do it while you’re lying still and accessible. 

They need attention 

If one reason stands at the peak, it’s dogs and trying to get your attention. 

Fair enough!

But unlike kids, dogs don’t speak out when they require some assistance from you. However, they will lick you to alert you. 

Much of this can be seen during the late nights when you’re far asleep, and poor fido needs to go. Or perhaps, they’re feeling hyperactive at night and need some walking. 

Furthermore, you’ll find your dog licking you for a bunch of attention-seeking reasons. However, heeding to their licking antics will only make them do it more often.

Your dog may be anxious

Anxiety is one reason dogs can get really cranky and go a little extreme with the licking. 

When anxiety hits, your dog can become a real pain and frustration with their licking. It isn’t their fault; they can’t help it. 

anxious dog licking with tongue out

Also, on rare occasions, your dog may have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

These types of situations are triggered by extreme stress and anxiety. This can cause your dog to lick even more.

They’re trying to be protective and affectionate 

Dogs grow into a bond, and that can be translated in a lot of ways. They would watch you sleep and, while they do, lick you up to show that love and protection are part of that bundle.

They’re trying to show you they love you.

Dogs are very affectionate animals; once they bond with you, they’ll do everything they can to show that. 

One obvious way your dog licks you up is because they’re bonded to you and try to shower you with as much affection as it can.

So while a pat or stroke on the back isn’t possible, they can try to lick you instead.

Why does my dog lick my hand while I’m sleeping?

A dog can lick any part of your body they find interesting. Your hand is one place dogs will lick. 

A cold nose to your palm or a slobbering lick to your hands can signify that your dog needs your attention.

Also, they’d try to glean off the tiny crumbs if you previously had treats in your hands before going to bed.

Additionally, if there’s an inviting scent in your palm— a scented hand wash or hand cream before you went to bed, that could be an open invitation to lick.

How do I stop/prevent my dog from licking me when I sleep?

While most dog-licking situations may not be bad, diagnosing this on time is important.

First, you can have a veterinarian examination to ensure your pooch isn’t suffering from any health conditions.

Once this has been cleared from the chart, here are a few proven ways to stop/prevent your dog from licking you while you sleep.

Set your boundaries from the onset

You’re the leader of the pack, and you can have your boundaries. Since dogs don’t understand human language, you can frown at certain behaviors when your dogs exhibit them.

Letting your dog know when they can lick you is important. You can do this by encouraging this behavior when you stroke their back or train them to give a lick on cue.

Ignore them

Dog licking at night can be a sign that it needs your attention.

Isn’t it?

And they will do it more often if you adhere to this behavior.

If your dog licks you while you sleep because it needs to play or go on a walk, you can totally ignore it. This way, it will understand with time that this doesn’t work.

However, this can be a ticking time bomb as they may progress to more invasive tactics to get your attention.

In such situations, you can see an animal behaviorist instead.

Encourage good behavior

Occasionally praising your dog when they are well-behaved is one effective way to stop a bad one. If your dog sleeps next to you, you can give a reward or praise when they lay calmly beside you. 

dog receiving treat for stopping to lick

If they still lick you after this, you can say, “no, bad dog!” and not reward them. Only praise or reward when they maintain good behavior. 

Final thoughts

Your dog licking you when you sleep can be a sign of love and affection. Or they may need your attention. However, this can become a regular behavior.

You can always ignore them if they lick you while you’re sleeping. But if that doesn’t work, you can also see a vet or consult an animal behaviorist for further assistance.

Leave a Comment