Dogs do some funny things. It’s one of the reasons they make such good pets.
In this post, we will look at why dogs lick their owner’s belly buttons.
Does your dog lick your belly button? Would you like to know why they do it?
Sadly the scientists have been a bit too busy with other canine-related studies to give us a definitive answer to this question.
However, we can look at typical canine licking behavior and then make an educated guess about your dog licks your navel so much.
Why Does Your Dog Lick Your Belly Button?
The most likely reasons your dog licks your belly button are that it tastes pleasant to your dog, they want to bond with you, you have accidentally trained them to do it, or possibly you have an ailment that your dog is trying to alert you to.
Let’s look at this list in more detail so you can figure out which is the most likely one for you and your pup:
- Your belly button tastes nice.
- Your dog is bonding with you and being affectionate.
- You have accidentally trained them to lick it.
- You have an ailment that they can sense.
1. Your Belly Button Tastes Nice
Let’s be honest humans and dogs have very different ideas of what is tasty and what isn’t!
Your belly button might taste delicious to your dog.
There could be some fluff in there that your dogs find tasty.
Or it could be that it tastes nice and salty from your sweat.
If you think that some dogs happily lick their own pee, your belly button sweat sounds quite palatable compared to that!
2. Your Dog is Bonding With You and Being Affectionate
One of the magical things about dogs and why they make such good pets is that they are so loving and affectionate.
So when your dog licks your belly button, it may just be that they are expressing their love for you.
3. You Have Accidentally Trained Them to Lick It
While this might sound surprising, it is easy to accidentally train your dog into making a behavior pattern.
For example, let’s say your dog randomly licked your belly button 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 this time you gave them a nice cuddle.
Now they have learned that if they lick your belly button, you will be nice to them.
So whenever they want some attention and affection from you, they lick your belly button and see if it works.
4. You Have an Ailment That They Can Sense
If you haven’t heard of this before, it might sound crazy, but some dogs can smell ailments and diseases in humans.
Before we go any further with this, it is improbable that there is anything wrong with you!
The reasons for the belly button licking listed above are much more likely.
With that said, if your dog has only recently started paying attention to your naval and if they seem anxious when they do so, it might be worth paying attention to your body to see if any symptoms appear.
Obviously, if you are worried about this, please consult a medical professional.
Before we go on with this post, you might find this short video interesting.
In the video, a lady who trains dogs to sniff out disease explains how her own dog helped save her life from an aggressive form of cancer.
Dogs are amazing.
Just click the video to start playing:
Should You Stop Your Dog from Licking Your Belly Button?
This is down to personal choice.
The most important thing to consider is that a dog’s salvia can contain some nasty bugs.
But the risk of catching diseases from your dog licking you is very low unless you have broken or damaged skin.
So unless you have a cut, rash, or something similar close to your belly button, it should be very safe to let your dog lick it.
Why Do Dogs Lick So Much?
Dogs have an instinct to lick, which is part of their nature.
Dogs explore the world around them with their noses, mouths, teeth, and tongues.
They lick when grooming, including as part of the social grooming of other dogs and humans (such as licking your belly button).
They also use licking to assess if something is edible or not.
Dogs also may lick excessively due to boredom, hunger, thirst, stress, or a medical condition.
As dog owners, our job is to figure out what might be causing the licking and, if it is a problem, figure out how to deal with it.
Why Do Dogs Lick People?
- Social grooming.
- Showing affection.
- Expressing empathy.
- Some humans have tasty skin.
- To gain attention.
In the same way, dogs engage in mutual grooming with other dogs. They also do so with humans.
So, yes. If your dog is licking your belly, it might be because it thinks you are unclean!
They could be trying to get all the fluff out of your belly button.
But it could also be a way of bonding with you. You can decide for yourself which it is!
Dogs will lick and nuzzle humans to express affection towards them.
While this may leave you covered in unpleasant and slimy dog saliva, at least it is well-intentioned!
Dogs are very smart. They can often tell when humans are sad, sick, or in pain.
What is even more awesome is they will often try to alleviate the suffering and express empathy by licking the person who is sad or sick.
Some Humans Have Tasty Skin
Dogs often lick humans because their skin tastes nice.
It might be that the person has just eaten some tasty food, or possibly that they have been sweating, and the dog likes the taste of the salty sweat.
In this example, belly buttons do tend to get sweaty when people exercise, so this could be why your dog loves licking yours.
To Gain Attention
Most dogs love getting attention from their owners, and they are clever enough to learn ways to get that attention.
If they try to get your attention by licking you and you respond by stroking them, they will learn to repeat this action in the future when they want to be petted.
(You might not realize it, but your dog is training you to behave in certain ways, just like you teach them).
How to Train Your Dog Not to Lick Your Belly Button So Much
When training a dog not to lick your navel, we first need to remember that licking is a perfectly natural behavior for them.
This means it might be hard to eliminate licking entirely, and you should only try to do so with good reason.
The easiest way to stop the licking is by not letting them get access to your belly button.
Either by not letting them get close enough or by covering up your navel, so they can’t access it.
With that said, there is a simple two-step process that should be very effective with most dogs:
- Use the “No” command to stop the licking.
- Use distraction and praise to redirect the dog’s attention.
Let’s look at each step more closely:
Training and Using the “No” Command
If you have not already trained your dog to obey the no command, you should prioritize it.
Select a behavior you want them to stop doing – in this case, licking your belly button – catch them in the act of doing it, say “No” in a firm voice, and physically stop them from doing it.
For example, if your dog was licking your hand, you would pull your hand away and say the “No” command clearly and firmly.
Once they understand the “No” command for hand licking, it will be much easier to train them to understand it in a different context, such as barking or jumping up at people.
So you should work through a few different behaviors until they understand that “No” means stop what they are doing, whatever it is.
Using Distraction and Praise to Encourage A Different Behavior
After successfully using the “No” command to stop the dog from licking your belly button, you should reward and distract them.
Give them a treat, pet them, or give verbal praise, so they associate stopping with feeling good.
Then play with them, let them go outside, move them around the house, or do something similar to distract them from returning to the licking.
If you keep up with this simple two-step process, you will notice a reduction in their behavior.
Not only that, but if they do carry on with the navel licking, you will be able to stop them much more quickly.
Please note that if you struggle to stop your dog from licking your belly button, it may be because they are doing so due to stress, boredom, or a medical condition.
If this might be the case, you should do your best to fix the underlying cause and, if need be, take the dog to the vet to get checked out.
If you are struggling financially and worried about vet bills, this website lists places you can contact for help.
(If you do not live in the USA, you can use Google to search for similar help near you, there is a lot of support out there for dog owners in difficulty).
Final Thoughts On Why Your Dog Licks Your Belly Button So Much
It is impossible to answer with 100% certainty the question – why does my dog lick my belly button so much?
However, some reasons are the most likely cause:
- Your belly button tastes nice to your dog.
- Your dog is being affectionate.
- You have inadvertently trained them to lick your navel.
- You might have an ailment that they can smell.
Unless you have damaged skin, there is minimal risk of letting them do it, so it’s up to you whether you allow this behavior.
If you want to stop, the easiest thing to do is stop them from getting access to your belly button but covering it up.
Or you can use training to stop them from doing it.
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!