Why Does My Dog Lick My Face Before Bed? (7 Reasons)

Dogs lick for a variety of reasons. Occasional licking may appear loving and can aid in the development of a relationship between you and your dog. However, when your dog licks your face regularly, it isn’t quite as charming. It’s possible that you may even grow frustrated with your dog if the licking continues.

Due to this excessive licking behavior occurring so frequently with some of our furry loved ones, many pet parents want to know why a dog would lick their face before going to bed.

why does my dog lick my face before bed
Why Does My Dog Lick My Face Before Bed?

There are many reasons for your dog licking you before going to bed. The most authentic reason is that licking is one of the natural ways that dogs communicate, and this is likely just one of the many ways in which your dog may express their affection for you. Another common reason for this behavior is that your dog may have a habit of licking you before going to bed since puppyhood, and now your pup is an adult dog, but the habit persists.

Whatever the reason for licking is, though, it is a fact that one of the results of them licking so much is endorphins being released in the canine’s body, and this soothes your dog.

Let us have a thorough look at all the possible reasons for your pup’s excessive licking before going to bed.

Licking is an instinctual activity in dogs. As puppies, their mother groomed them by licking them, which gave them a sense of security. As they grow older and develop further, licking can, in turn, have numerous causes and purposes depending upon the pup and its environment.

Here are some of the possible reasons your dog may be engaging in this behavior frequently.

Related Reading: Why Does My Dog Lick My Bed? (6 Reasons)

Reasons Why My Dog Licks Me When I Go to Bed

1. It Makes the Dog Remember Their Younger Days

When your dog licks you before sleep, one of the explanations is that the licking reminds the dog of its days as a young puppy. It’s important to remember that when a dog is born, it first experiences licks from its mother and siblings.

The dog immediately responds by licking its face, and the habit is instantly imprinted in its memory.

Upon adoption, bringing your puppy home and taking care of it will cause the puppy to regard you as a parent, and because the behavior is instinctive, the dog will not hesitate to lick you anytime the opportunity arises.

2. Separation Anxiety

Anxiety-related problems affect dogs in the same way they affect humans. Dogs suffer from separation anxiety, which is among the most severe types of anxiety they may experience.

Separation anxiety develops when you are constantly absent, and the dog is forced to spend a significant amount of time alone at home. If you leave home too early and return home too late, you may not have enough time to snuggle with your dog, and this can cause a significant amount of stress due to dogs being social by nature.

Separation anxiety symptoms are most commonly seen in irritating and repetitive behaviors, such as pacing, barking, whining, and excessive licking of the mouth.

Because you’re only likely to be at home during the evening hours, if this is your current situation, you’ll most likely be one of the main targets of your dog’s intense licking habit.

3. They’re Showing You Affection

When dogs lick your face, they experience an increase in positive emotions. Dogs can’t speak to us in the way we humans communicate, so your pup may be simply licking you to release endorphins and show their love and appreciation for you in the best way they know how.

It can also be a submissive movement, in which the animal shows you respect by licking your face or neck.

4. Attention Seeking Behavior

Attention Seeking Behavior

Some dogs lick their owners’ faces before going to bed as a form of attention-seeking behavior. The fact is that dogs nearly always want attention, and they will frequently “complain” (via their vocalizations) if we treat them as if they don’t exist.

If your dog licks you before night, it may be his way of expressing, “Hey, why are you going to sleep while I’m still awake?”

Dogs that don’t feel appreciated enough would likely lick their owners’ faces before going to bed since they find the action comforting and soothing for themselves.

Additionally, as puppies, dogs will lick their mother’s mouth to signal that they are ready to be fed, so this may also be another way for your dog to try to signal you for another snack or treat before retiring for the night.

5. Your Dog Might Be Suffering from a Medical Issue

Dogs typically will also lick sore or diseased areas on their bodies. Licking at the same spot over and over again indicates pain or discomfort. It is also possible that your dog will lick their lips excessively if nauseated.

Additionally, a dog that licks itself excessively as it ages may be suffering from dementia. When they are frightened, stressed, or terrified, they may lick their lips too. They may even get obsessed with licking you or other items in their immediate vicinity for comfort.

Separation anxiety can easily be a source of the problem, but it’s always worth consulting your veterinarian if your dog is displaying concerning behaviors and a cause isn’t obvious.

6. Your Skin Tastes Good to Them

dog licking kid's face

Our skins naturally release salts, which dogs adore since they enjoy the salty flavor of it. During and after workouts, you’ll notice that most dogs kiss the faces of their owners, which is perfectly normal. You just worked up a sweat and got yourself covered in all sorts of new smells and tastes, so they’re certain to get curious and check out the situation in the best way they know how: sniffing and licking you like crazy.

If you had a busy day and neglected to take a shower, the scent and taste of your sweat will keep your dog occupied at your bedside for a long period.

7. Boredom

Another cause for your dog to be licking you at bedtime is boredom. Dogs that don’t get sufficient exercise during the day are more likely to lick their owners’ faces as a signal for attention as well as an emotional outlet. Dogs may turn to excessively licking their owners if they cannot release their pent-up energy in any other manner.

This is especially concerning when it occurs at bedtime because your dog is unlikely to receive a decent night’s sleep as a result of it. Provide sufficient physical and mental activity to the dog, and this will go a long way toward minimizing boredom-related licking.

What are the Health Risks of Dog Face Licking?

When applied topically, dog saliva does not pose a health concern to children or adults with healthy skin and immune systems. Allowing your dog to lick an open injury on your skin, on the other hand, is not a healthy practice. A possible skin infection can result from their saliva continuing to keep the area wet and open, allowing germs to flourish.

In the past year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has received reports of 12 incidents in which individuals became sick as a result of germs transmitted by a dog’s saliva. In those instances, the bacterium Capnocytophaga canimorsus was shown to be the source of the problem. This specific bacterium may be found in both dogs and cats, and it is completely safe for them, but not so much for us at times.

When an individual’s immune system is impaired, there is a possibility that the bacteria will infect him or her and cause illness. An open wound—such as a bite or a cut on the skin—is necessary for the germs to enter the body, and your dog licking such a wound is where the trouble can begin.

Typically, the dog must have a high concentration of that specific bacteria in its system, and its saliva must come into touch with the open lesion. In general, after petting any dog, it is recommended that you wash your hands thoroughly.

How to Train Your Dog to Stop Licking You

When your dog begins licking excessively, you should consult with your veterinarian to check for any underlying medical issues. Your veterinarian will evaluate whether or not a behavioral issue needs to be addressed. Additionally, there are several methods for preventing your dog from licking you.

  1. When they lick your face, ignore them: A licking behavior on your dog’s part may be used to attract your attention. When they lick your face, get up and leave the room immediately. This will demonstrate that licking you will not provide them with what they desire.
  2. Recognize and reward positive conduct: When your dog is well-behaved, show your appreciation by giving him or her lots of attention. Your dog is most likely to respond positively if he or she is lying comfortably near you. The most effective form of training is positive reinforcement; the usage of deterrents might intensify the underlying problem that is causing your dog’s licking.
  3. Use a puzzle as well as trick training to divert their focus away from you. Instead of rewarding your dog’s behavior of excessive licking, engage them in an activity that is unrelated to the licking. You can engage them in an interactive puzzle (see Amazon) by allowing them to sniff out rewards, or you can also teach them techniques like “roll over” and “sit,” among others. Distractions during training will divert their attention away from the reason they desire to lick. They’ll eventually figure out that you don’t want them to lick you if you’re consistent.
  4. Maintain consistency in your limits: If you allow your dog to lick you on some occasions but not on others, he or she may become confused. Establish limits between you and your dog. When you believe they are being affectionate, it may be difficult to resist allowing them to lick you. 

If you cannot control your dog’s need to lick, you should seek advice from your veterinarian or an animal behavioral specialist.

dog licking my face before bed
Dog Licking My Face Before Bed


Can I Lick My Dog’s Face Back?

Licking your dog’s back is incredibly unsanitary and can lead to severe diseases, so you should avoid doing so. For example, it is also inappropriate to share an ice cream cone with your dog or any other snack due to disease transmission as well. Instead, express your appreciation for your dog by touching him, scratching his tummy, and engaging in play with him.

What Does It Mean When a Dog Licks Your Hand Regularly?

Licking is a means of connecting and expressing affection between two people. As he licks your hands and stares affectionately at you, your dog is telling you that he has confidence in you.

Regardless of whether you arrive home after a long day at work or simply run a quick errand for half an hour, your dog will be there to meet you with a loving lick. Dogs like and benefit from the act of licking when done slowly, gently, and calmly.

Is My Dog Aware That It Is Time to Go to Bed?

We already know that dogs have circadian rhythms and are sensitive to the passage of time—both day and night, as well as being aware of certain times of the day. Through our experience with dogs, we’ve learned that they recognize when to go to bed and when it’s time to feed. Undoubtedly, some of this is influenced by their circadian cycles and previous experiences.

Related Reading: 7 Best Dog Fences for German Shepherds

stuart and his dog

Family Dog Expert Author

Hi there! I’m Stuart, a devoted dog lover and family dog expert with over a decade of experience working with our furry companions. My passion for dogs drives me to share my knowledge and expertise, helping families build strong, loving bonds with their four-legged friends. When I’m not writing for SirDoggie, you’ll find me hiking, playing with my beautiful dog, or studying music.