Why Does My Dog Lick Me in the Morning? (Explained)

Ever wondered: why does my dog lick me in the morning? Some owners find it adorable and loving, while others find it icky and unpleasant.

Whether you enjoy waking up to a face full of dog kisses or not, you’re probably wondering why your furry friend does this. Some dogs may do this sporadically, but others may give you morning kisses as a daily ritual.

why does my dog lick me in the morning
Why does my dog lick me in the morning? (Explained)

If you sleep with your dog and they always interrupt your sleep with sloppy wet kisses, the reason may surprise you. Find out why your dog licks you in the morning below!

Salty Skin

Humans produce natural salt and oils on their skin, which is tasty to dogs. If you have a dog that incessantly licks your legs, arms, or face, it may be because they love you, but they may also enjoy the salty taste of your skin.

Chihuahua licks owner's face
Chihuahua licks owner’s face to show their love and affection.

If it was a particularly hot night and you had a sweaty night, they’re more likely to lick your face. But even on normal, cool nights, you still produce oil and salt while you sleep, and your dog wants a lick or two before you wash your face!

Dogs have a salt radar, so they can smell when your skin gets extra salty, making them more likely to slobber over you as you wake up.

Many dogs enjoy the saltiness of human skin, but other dogs aren’t the licking-type. If they don’t usually lick you, the morning kisses probably stem from a different motivation.


One of the simplest reasons your dog licks you in the morning is because they want your attention! You’ve been asleep all night, and they’ve been sleeping, and now that everyone is well-rested, it’s playtime!

a basenji with a small child
A Basenji licks the face of a small dog

Dogs have a general understanding of sleep, so if they’ve been up for a while and you’re still snoozing, they may lick you or paw at you to get your attention so you guys can start the day together.

Now that you’re awake, you can give them pets and treats and take them on walks. Most of the things your dog loves to do can’t happen while you’re still in bed. For most dogs, their owner is their whole world.

They become happy when they get attention from you, which is tough to do when you’re still in dreamland. You can think of this as a puppy alarm clock.

They’re up and likely don’t understand why you’re not, so some morning kisses are a friendly way to alert you that it is morning and time to hang out.

They Need You

A common reason dogs attack your face with kisses while you’re asleep is because they need something. This reason for morning licks is super common in puppies, especially when learning how to communicate potty needs to you.

a shih tzu licking its owners face
A Shih Tzu licks its owners face. Lick frenzy!

A morning lick could mean they need to go outside to relieve themselves, or their little tummies are rumbling, and they need breakfast. If you have a new dog kissing you in the morning, try to figure out what they want to communicate to you.

It could just be a lovey-dovey way to say good morning, or they could be asking you for help. Stubborn dogs may resort to whining, crying, or gentle barking if the licking doesn’t work and they need something.

Usually, if the licking is because they need something, the communication attempts will escalate, and they may even start pawing or nuzzling you to get their message across.

Dogs can be excellent communicators, so don’t ignore them when they try to get your attention, as it could be important.

Because You Love It

Dogs respond strongly to positive reinforcement. If you tend to giggle or lean into their slobbery kisses, they may just be kissing you because they want to evoke a positive response.

Rottweiler licks her owner
Rottweiler and her owner are playing at the park.

If you’re a dog owner who hates wet kisses and typically pushes the dog away or even gently scolds them, morning licks probably have a more specific reason. But for owners who don’t mind a little drool with a lot of love, morning licks may be just for fun.

Dogs can brilliantly read their owner’s mood and can sometimes respond with affection or excitement. If you tossed and turned all night and had a bad morning, intelligent dogs sense this. To brighten your mood, they perform an action that usually elicits a positive response, such as face licks!

Because They Love You

As mentioned, dogs bond strongly with their owners. They’re super loyal animals and naturally show affection toward pack leaders and other dogs.

brown dog nibbling ear
Brown dog nibbling owner’s ear.

Dog licks are one of their most loving forms of showing affection. Dog kisses mean they love you and want your approval, so your dog may lick you in the morning for no reason other than they want to say, “I love you.”

Your dog may not mean to wake you up with their love, but it’s a side effect of the affection. Even if you don’t appreciate the sloppy kisses, remember, your dog is likely just expressing its love for you!

Welfare Check

If you’ve ever had more than one pet and one passed away, you likely know that dogs grieve similarly to humans. Experts believe they have a general, instinctual understanding of death and that it’s a sad occurrence.

woman cuddles with her two dogs
A woman’s face licked by one her dogs.

In wild dog packs, one may move close to a sleeping pack member’s face to check they are still breathing. Your dog may lick your face in the morning for a similar reason.

They’re doing a welfare check to ensure you’re a-okay! While you may not enjoy the super wet kiss, it’s sweet to think about your dog performing a quick welfare check on its beloved master.


While the reasons your dog licks you in the morning listed above are generally innocuous, your dog may lick you to relieve their anxiety or because they have a compulsion to do so.

dog excited
The Dalmatian was excited to see her owner!

Dogs with OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) may lick you in the morning to calm their anxiety, loneliness, stress, or boredom.

If your dog tends to lick you and other objects or people incessantly, it may be a coping mechanism indicating some mental health issues. Normal licking is fine, but excessive licking could mean your dog is dissatisfied and stressed. Consult a veterinarian if you’re worried about this.

Why Morning Licks Are Good?

Even if you’re not a fan of the slobbery kisses, these morning licks can be a good sign! When your dog licks your face in the morning, the following benefits can occur:

  • Strengthen the pet and owner bond.
  • Releases Oxytocin in the dog’s brain (the happy chemical).
  • Can improve your immune system.
  • Can remove oil, dead skin cells, dirt, and dust from your skin.
dog licks her little girl owner
A dog licks her owner to to show some affection and to express her needs.

Yes, that’s right, your dog is helping you wash your face with its super-cleaning canine tongue! Maybe you won’t hate those wet kisses so much anymore.

Final Lick

Licking the animals and people they love is typical behavior for a happy dog, so morning licks are rarely a cause for concern.

Even if you don’t enjoy the slobber, know that those morning licks often come with love and loyalty.

Your doggo wants to hang out with you, get some attention, or check that you’re still breathing!