Dogs are such amazing creatures. All loving dog owners know how lucky they are to have dogs in their lives.
One of the best things about our pet dogs is how much love and affection they give us.
So, in this post, we will answer the question, “why does my dog lick me when I cry?”
The answer lets us understand more about how fortunate we are to share our lives with dogs.
Why Does Your Dog Lick You When You Cry?
The most likely reason why your dog licks you when you cry is that they understand you are upset and want to make you feel better.
If this has happened in the past, you may have encouraged them to do it without even realizing that’s what you were doing.
If they lick your tears, it could be that they like the salty taste.
Let’s look at the reasons more closely so you can understand why your dog acts in this way:
- Your dog understands you are upset and wants to make you feel better.
- You accidentally encouraged your dog to lick you when you cry.
Your Dog Understands You are Upset and Wants to Make You Feel Better
Multiple studies (see below for more on this) have proven that dogs cannot only tell when you are feeling sad, but they also care and feel motivated to try and help.
When you are crying, you will be expressing all sorts of signals that show your dog that you are upset.
When they notice you are upset, they instinctively want to make you feel better and act in ways that are meant to help.
This can include licking, nuzzling, and generally staying close to you.
Just let this sink in.
When you cry, your dog knows you are upset; it cares and tries to help you feel better by comforting you physically.
How awesome is that? We are so lucky to have dogs in our lives!
You Accidentally Encouraged Your Dog to Lick You When You Cry
While this might sound surprising, it is easy to accidentally train your dog into a behavior pattern.
For example, let’s say your dog randomly licked you when you were crying one day, and without thinking, you laughed and stroked them.
The dog felt good because you reacted warmly and gave them some attention.
They repeated the behavior, and you gave them a nice cuddle this time.
They have learned that if they lick you when you cry, you will be nice to them.
Why Does Your Dog Lick Your Tears?
If your dog licks your tears when you cry, they do it either because they can tell you are sad and are comforting you or because they like the taste of your tears.
As discussed in this post, dogs can tell when their owners are upset and will often try to help them feel better by showing affection.
Also, human tears are salty, and just like humans do, dogs like saltiness.
Should You Let Your Dog Lick You When You Cry?
Canine saliva has some nasty bugs. As a result, diseases and parasites can be transmitted from pet dogs to their owners.
There is minimal risk of infection unless your skin is damaged or broken.
If you have a rash or a cut close to where they want to lick, you should not let them do so, but otherwise, it’s usually very safe.
The only exception to this is your mouth. This is because germs can easily get into your body through your mouth.
So it is best not to let your dog lick your face when you are crying as you could get seriously ill from it.
NOTE – You might also enjoy reading this post about why dogs lick people’s faces.
How to Stop Your Dog from Licking You When Your Are Crying?
By far, the best way to stop your dog from licking you when you are crying is to put some distance between you and the dog.
You can put them in their crate, out in the yard, or another room.
Once you have had a good cry and got rid of some painful emotions, you can return to your dog and let them help cheer you up.
Can Dogs Read Human Emotions?
When talking and thinking about canine behavior, we must be careful not to anthropomorphize and project our way of thinking onto the dog.
Dogs don’t understand the world the same way we do, but some underlying patterns of similarity between them and humans can undoubtedly be observed.
For example, if you were feeling really sad and your dog was comforting you, your dog wouldn’t have the following thought process:
“My human is crying, upset and sad. So I will walk over to them and give them some comforting nuzzles so they know I love them, and then they will feel much better.”
That might be how human brains work, but it’s not how a dog’s brain works.
However, scientists have proven that dogs can read human emotions, so even if the canine thought process is different, the result is the same.
Dogs can tell when you are sad, and they do care about it.
This short but really interesting video explains how dogs can tell if you are happy or sad.
Just click the video, and it will start to play:
Do Dogs Care When We Are Sad or Anxious?
Not only are dogs very good at sensing when humans are sad or anxious, but they also care enough to try and help.
This study found that dogs are much more likely to give attention to a crying person than someone whistling happily.
Of course, most dog owners can anecdotally back this up from their own experience living with their dogs.
Anyone who lives with a dog long enough will notice that when they feel sad or crying, the dog will likely come over and comfort them with licks, nuzzles, and cuddles.
Final Notes On Why Your Dog Licks You When You Cry
Your dog licks you when you cry because they know you are upset and want to make you feel better.
You might also have inadvertently encouraged this behavior by petting your dog after they previously did it.
It is okay to let your dog lick your skin unless it is damaged or they are licking close to your mouth, where the risk of infection is much higher.
That is the end of this blog post answering the question, “why does my dog lick me when I cry?”
If you have any more questions or comments on this topic, please feel free to post them below.
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!