Dogs communicate in many ways, one way is by licking our eyes. Like humans in that they communicate in many different ways. The only difference is that humans primarily communicate verbally, but dogs use their body language to express themselves. For instance, droopy ears are a sign of submission, a curled tail means the dog is relaxed, and you always know when your dog is feeling guilty!
It’s easy to understand most non-verbal cues often used by dogs. However, there are a few body languages pet owners find hard to decipher. One such non-verbal cue is the licking of the owner’s eyes. This is because it is not a behavior a human would ever do, at least none that I have ever met.
In this article, we will dive deeper to explore the complex psychology of dogs licking their owners’ eyes. Is it a sign of happiness and affection? Or is your dog trying to get you to do something? Either way, you’ll find all the answers you seek here.
Dogs licking the eyes of their mothers is a normal behavior. However, to us humans, we may not like it when our pups lick our faces, and it can be embarrassing when they lick the faces of our guests. It may be perfectly normal for a dog to do this in the wild, but to its human it might seem odd, especially if it is not expected.
The act of licking the eyes may be an expression of love for its owner, which makes it harder to discourage; on one hand it sounds like a sweet thing to do but on the other hand, who wants your dog's tongue in your eye? Is this something that should be discouraged or is it okay?
If the dog does it on a regular basis then it probably has become part of its routine behaviour. Below, we will explore in detail why this behavior happens…
Why Does My Dog Lick My Eyes?
Dogs can lick your eyes for many reasons. It is often a show of affection, to groom you, to get you to play with them or simply because they want to say hello. Our tears contain salt and dogs like that salty taste. Our eyes contain liquid to keep our eyes lubricated. If your dog licks your face and like the salty taste of your tears they will probably lick you again.
If you have been crying, you may think your dog is licking your face to try and comfort you, and that might be true. It could also be because they want some of the tasty, salty, tears. What looks like a loving behavior could be hiding the fact they just want a salty snack!
Sometimes your dog just wants to give you a kiss. You might be one of those people who like getting licked by your pup. However, there are some find this behavior annoying and even disrespectful. As much as your dog loves you, he still needs to learn how to behave around you; every good parent knows that good manners is important in raising a well-mannered child.
The first sensation new pups experience is their mother licking them and it is a sign of affection. After birth, the new pup requires cleaning, and most times, the birthing mother handles this task. Licking creates a special, instinctive bond between the pup and mother. It also sets a precedent for the puppy that getting licked feels good and exciting. It is a calming way dogs communicate with each other and clean their fur.
Puppies will lick their mothers for many reasons including learning about what their parents eat and where they’ve been. Furthermore, pups are also curious and often use their noses and tongues to explore. That explains why they can lick your eyes when you try to hug them or play with them.
Besides that, some breeds of dogs have a predisposition to excessive licking, more than other dogs. Breeds like Labrador Retriever, Poodle, Chihuahua, and English Bulldog tend to lick the body, mouth, and even the eyes of their owners.
As we’ve stated above, birthing mothers often groom their pups by licking their fur and faces. Young puppies also groom each other as an act of cleaning and to show love. Some canines might carry this behavior into adulthood.
In dogs, licking stimulates the production of happy hormones (oxytocin and endorphins), which provides them with a sense of calm and comfort. Of course, your pooch will want to share the same feeling with you, too. It releases endorphins for both parties.
As weird as it might sound, when your dog licks your face and eyes, it means he loves and trusts you and wishes to keep you clean. Older dogs tend to lick less than their younger counterparts. This is not because they love you any less, pups just have more energy and enthusiasm when they're young. Dogs will lick the members of their pack to bond with them too, it is part of a mutual grooming trait that dogs have too.
When you don’t give your dogs the attention they deserve, they can show you by licking your eyes. Dogs require their owner’s attention, approval, and love to remain mentally healthy and happy. However, some pet owners can fail to understand the importance of attention to their dogs.
When you’re at home and forget to train, play and exercise with your dog, chances are he will feel neglected. As a result, he will become anxious and stressed. Your pup may lick you and then lead you to the door. This is probably your invitation to go for a walk.
Your dog can also lick your eyes because he’s excited to see you after a long day of being alone at home. Nevertheless, avoid giving your dog more attention than necessary, or it will develop separation anxiety when you leave the house.
Canines are perhaps the most sensitive creatures. They depend on their senses to determine their owners’ moods. By smelling and licking our odor and sweat, dogs can understand how we feel, whether it’s anger, happiness, stress, etc.
If your dog licks your face and eyes, it’s probably trying to gauge your emotions. The dog’s tongue doesn’t actually do the decoding. That’s the role of the vomeronasal organs. The organs receive signals or pheromones emitted in your sweat when your furry friend licks you, helping the dog gauge your mood and react accordingly.
It’s important to engage your dog in physical and mental training exercises. Ensure he gets his fair share of training every day, whether it’s taking him for a walk or playing with him. For mental training, make him solve puzzles and play with his toys.
A boredom dog will always find a way to stimulate himself. Most of them end up forming unnecessary and repetitive habits like licking your eyes. So, ensure he gets the recommended exercise based on his age and breed.
In the wild, a puppy lick their mother's mouth when they return from a hunt to eat the scraps of meat. Wolf pups lick their mother's mouths they will regurgitate food for their pup to eat. This is why pups will often lick our mouths because they think we will give them food. Wolves also lick each other on the mouth to show their love for each other.
Being licked by your dog once in a while on the face or eyes is not something to worry about. However, if the habit is repetitive, there’s a high chance you might find it unpleasant. Also, it can indicate that something is not right with your dog.
Your pooch might be suffering from severe separation anxiety, and the only way he can vent it out is by licking you every time you come back home. Alternatively, your dog might have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which causes him to repeat the behavior excessively.
If your dog is licking your eyes so much that it is becoming a problem dog trainers may be able to help. Face licking can be nice when your dog is a puppy but when you have a 30-40kg dog trying to lick your friends faces it can become a problem.
If your dog habitually licks your face when you come in the evening. Reward them when they don't. By making not licking your face more appealing that doing so your are using positive reinforcement to remove the bad habit.
It’s not recommended to allow your dog to lick your eyes. The mouth of dogs hosts many oral microbiomes of viruses, bacteria, and yeast that can cause infections and diseases. These microbiomes might not harm the dog, but once they enter your system through your eyes, they can cause severe illness. While getting sick this way is not particularly common, it’s wise to stop your dog from licking your nose, mouth, and eyes.
Some of the bacteria that live in dogs mouths can be transferred to humans, including salmonella and ecoli. Diseases that can be transferred between animals and humans are called zoonotic diseases.
If you have any open wounds it is especially important to prevent your dog from licking them. So if you are going to be around a dog that has a habit of excessive licking, it is best to ensure any open wounds are covered beforehand.
And it’s not only their saliva. Canines spend half their life sticking their nose in nasty corners and hovering over other dogs dropping, which feature harmful bacteria, parasites (roundworms and tapeworms), and all sorts of germs.
We have all cringed when we have seen our dogs getting a little too close to another dog's pee or sniffing another dog's appendages a little too closely. Many people don't like their dogs licking their faces for this reason alone. Infections can enter our bodies through our eyes (as well as many other ways) so it is important to avoid dogs licking them.
It's common for some breeds to lick your eyes. While this experience can sometimes be nice, it's wise to understand the reason behind it and the potential signals your dog is giving. Maybe your dog desires attention, or he's bored. Either way, try to decipher the cause of the habit. A bored or lonely animal may be more likely to repeat certain behaviors, so make sure he gets enough physical activity and attention.
Dog saliva can contain harmful viruses so it is important to understand the risks. As always, ensure your pet receives all vaccines, gets dewormed, and keeps him away from the feces of other animals. This way, you can reduce the risk of getting sick when they lick the different parts of your face. Also, if the habit persists or you are worried for any reason, speak to a vet even if it's just for peace of mind.
Here are some other common questions about dogs that may also be helpful:Why Does My Dog Scratch My Bed Sheets? Why Does My Dog Bury His Head in Me? Why Does My Dog Lay His Head on Me? Why Does My Dog Sleep Between My Legs? Why Does My Dog Lick My Pillow? Why Does My Dog Stand Over Me? Why Does My Dog Stretch So Much? Why Does My Dog Put His Butt on Me? Why Does My Dog Sleep With His Tongue Out? Why Does My Dog Lay On My Clothes? Why Does My Dog Nibble My Ear? Why Does My Dog Hump the Air? Why Does My Dog Lick Other Dogs Pee? Why Does My Dog Push Against Me? Why Does My Dog Lick My Legs? Do Dogs Get Tired Of Barking? and if you are after our pet portraits, you can see themhere.