Does your dog have the habit of licking you after eating? It’s a little odd, right? Or is it? Perhaps it’s just something dogs do. Nevertheless it’s not a behaviour most of us are particularly fond of. So let’s delve into the underlying causes before running through some potential solutions.
So, why does my dog lick me after eating? Dogs often lick their owners after eating because they like their owners’ smell. Sometimes licking after eating is a request for more food. And other times, it’s a way of showing affection. Dogs will also lick their owners after eating to ask for something else (such as more water).
Chances are, you now know the reason via the context of your own dog.
But you still may be a little perplexed. Besides, it could be one of, or several of them.
Or it could change in time.
So let’s continue to break down these reasons in greater detail.
That way you’ll be in a better position to understand it.
Then, we will look at whether it needs to be stopped and how to do so, should you want this behaviour trained out!
Reasons Why a Dog Licks You After Eating
Your dog may be licking you after eating because he likes the way you taste, he wants more food, or because he’s trying to tell you something else.
He Likes How You Taste
You have most likely seen your dog licking his bowl, cleaning the floor after you’ve dropped something, or licking things he finds on his walks with you.
In these instances, your dog is simply enjoying the taste of whatever he has found.
Believe it or not, your dog may simply enjoy how you taste.
We often have very small particles of food on our skin that we can’t see but that dogs can smell and taste.
Our skin also has salt from sweat that dogs like to lick.
You have probably noticed your dog licking you after you’ve exercised or when you’re very hot.
Your dog could be licking you because he likes the taste of your skin.
Dogs explore the world by using their mouths, and you’re part of his world, so it’s only natural that he’ll want to lick you in addition to other beings (and objects) he encounters.
He Wants More Food
When wolves and wild dogs are puppies, they will lick their mother’s mouth to get her to regurgitate more meat for them to eat.
It’s their way of letting her know that they still need (or want) more food.
Some believe this instinctive behavior is in dogs, too, so it could be your dog is licking after eating as a way of saying “more, please!”
Some dogs will lick more than others, depending on what they’ve learned from their mother as puppies.
He’s Trying to Tell You Something Else
All dogs use licking as a way to communicate, so it could simply be that your dog wants to tell you something, and he happens to do this after you eat.
Puppies learn to lick when their mothers groom them and show them love.
If he is licking you to enjoy the taste of your skin, that’s fine.
But sometimes he can be trying to tell you that something is wrong – maybe his water bowl is empty, or his dog flap is shut.
Your dog may be licking you excessively because he needs something.
Of course, sometimes your dog will lick you after eating as a way of showing you affection.
Mothers will lovingly lick their puppies, and your dog may simply want to “kiss” you to show you how much he loves you.
Should You Stop Your Dog Licking You After Eating
In general, you don’t need to stop your dog from licking you after eating, especially if he enjoys it. This behavior is instinctual for him and is also a way of showing his affection for you. The only time you would want to stop your dog licking you after eating is if he is licking an open wound.
When You Can Let Your Dog Lick You After Eating
Most of the time, it’s fine to let your dog lick you after eating if he is:
- Enjoying the taste of your skin
- Wanting to show you affection
- Wanting to bond with you
Some dogs will lick your face if they can reach it, whereas other dogs are happy to lick your hands, feet, or other exposed parts of skin.
If the licking gets too much, you may want to help your dog calm down (see below).
When You Don’t Want Your Dog to Lick You After Eating
If Your Dog Is Licking A Wound
Just as human saliva has antibacterial properties, dog saliva can help fight against some types of bacteria.
When a dog licks his wounds, he is acting out of instinct to help heal himself.
Licking his own wounds can help clean out dirt, remove dead tissue, and help speed up his body’s natural healing process.
We do this too: we often will suck our cut finger before we’ve even had a chance to think about it.
With your dog, he may extend this behavior to licking your wounds in an attempt to help you heal.
While dog saliva has some healing properties, the risks of infection outweigh any possible benefits.
Your dog’s mouth most certainly contains bacteria that could cause an infection.
You certainly wouldn’t want to punish your dog (after all, he’s trying to help you heal), but you wouldn’t want to encourage him, either.
If Your Dog Is Licking You Compulsively
If your dog compulsively licks you after eating – insisting on doing it every time to an unreasonable extent – then you’ll want to see a dog behaviorist.
Your dog is likely suffering from some type of anxiety or stress and is trying to calm himself by licking you all the time.
The same goes for him licking himself compulsively.
Too much of a healthy activity is no longer healthy.
Compulsive licking can be a sign of pain or other medical problems.
How To Stop Your Dog From Licking You After Eating
The best way to get your dog to stop licking you after eating is to reinforce the behavior that we want to see and ignore the behavior we don’t want. You can also train your dog to lick you (give you “kisses”) on command so that you are in control of how much slobber you get!
Weve touched upon the fact that you don’t need to necessarily stop your dog from licking you in most contexts.
However it may be something that you do actually want to stop.
So let us look at how.
Know What Reinforces The Licking Behavior
To train your dog to stop licking you, first try not to reinforce your dog’s licking behavior.
Some of the things we do can encourage a dog to lick even more, such as:
- Pushing your dog away
- Saying “no” to your dog
Note: The above list doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pet your dog, laugh with him, or smile at him – it just means if you do these things while he’s licking you, he’ll see that as reinforcement of his licking behavior and he’ll continue to do it.
Make Sure Your Dog Isn’t Bored or Lonely
Make sure your dog isn’t bored or lonely, as that can increase licking behavior in an effort to get your attention.
Be sure you are providing:
- Adequate physical exercise (walks, games, etc.)
- Sufficient mental stimulation (open curtains for your dog to see the world outside, interactive or puzzle toys like Kong balls, etc.)
- Affection (cuddles, stroking, etc.)
Training Your Dog To Stop Licking You
You can then try the following:
- Ignore your dog when he starts licking (if you know there’s nothing wrong, see above). Turn your head away, and get up if you need to
- Calmly walk into another room
- As soon as your dog stops licking, reward him with affection, attention, or a treat
- Your dog will learn that he won’t get what he wants if he licks, so he’ll eventually stop
Note: Don’t punish your dog for licking you. Punishment never works with dogs: positive reinforcement of the desired behavior is much more effective and kinder. If your dog is licking you out of affection, you don’t want to hurt his feelings by getting irritated or angry when he’s trying to tell you how much he loves you!
If You Still Want Occasional Kisses
If you still want your dog to lick you after eating but perhaps not quite so often, you can train him to lick on command.
Train your dog to lick you by associating a command word like “kiss” with licking.
You can train your dog to lick you on your cheek, chin, or hand, depending on your preference.
There are two ways to do this: with a sticky treat or a treat and a clicker.
Using A Sticky Treat
- Put a bit of peanut butter or cream cheese on the spot you’d like your dog to kiss
- Give the command word “kiss” (or something else)
- Bring the treat closer to your dog (lean in for your cheek, or extend your hand). Your dog should be happy to lick up the treat
- Practice this trick several times a day, offering a bit less of the treat each time
- Your dog will soon come and give you a “kiss” without the need for a treat
Using A Clicker And A Treat
- When your dog licks you where you want him to, give him a command word like “kiss” and click the clicker while he’s licking
- Once your dog has licked you in the right spot, tell him “good” and give him a treat
- Practice this a few more times using the clicker and treat with the command word, offering a bit less treat each time
- Your dog will soon learn to respond to just the command word
If Your Dog Gets Overexcited
Some dogs get overexcited at giving their people kisses.
If this is your dog, you can also teach him to stop kissing on command.
- When your dog is kissing you, after a time tell him “enough”
- Wait for him to stop and then tell him “good” and give him a treat
- Do this each time your dog gives you kisses
- Over time, you’ll be able to use this command to get your dog to stop anytime the kissing gets out of hand.
Dogs lick their owners for a multitude of different reasons.
Sometimes it’s several at a time. Other times it changes based on the circumstances.
And unless they are licking an open wound, this is not something you necessarily need to stop.
Unless you want it to, of course.
In that case a little bit of training, patience and consistency will usually do the trick.
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I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.