As a dog owner, you will have noticed that your pet dog explores the world with their nose and tongue.
Dogs do this much more than humans do. We rely on our hands and eyes much more than our canine companions.
In this post, we will answer the question, “why does my dog like to lick inside my mouth?”
If your dog does this, you will learn why they do it, why you should probably stop it, and tips on how to do so.
Let’s dive into the details…
Why Does Your Dog Like to Lick Inside Your Mouth?
Your dog licks inside your mouth because they are asking to be fed, they want to bond with you, they like the taste of your saliva, there is something wrong with them, or they think something is wrong with you.
It might also be the case that you have accidentally encouraged this behavior.
Let’s look at all of this in more detail:
- Your dog licking inside your mouth is asking to be fed.
- They want to bond with you.
- They like the taste of your saliva.
- There is something wrong with your dog.
- They think there is something wrong with you.
- You accidentally trained your pup to lick in your mouth.
Now let’s look at each of them in more detail so you can figure out which one is the reason why your dog licks your mouth.
1. Your Dog Licking Inside Your Mouth Is Asking To Be Fed
This is a throwback to your dog’s wolf ancestors. All domestic dogs evolved from an ancient species of wolf called the Late Pleistocene wolf.
Young wolf cubs can’t digest the meat their parents eat (this is also why we feed young puppies different food than adult dogs).
So wolf parents eat the food and partially digest it. Next, the wolf puppy licks the adult’s mouth, and this stimulates regurgitation.
The adult regurgitates partially digested food which the puppy can then eat and digest.
Even though domestic dogs have been selectively bred for thousands of years, they still have many behavior traits left over from their wolf ancestors.
Licking the inside of your mouth is one of these leftover traits. Your dog does it without thinking. It’s a natural part of being a dog.
2. They Want To Bond With You
One of the best things about being a dog owner is how much love and affection our pet dogs give us.
They are amazing creatures, and we are fortunate to have them in our lives.
It could be as simple as your is dog licking your mouth to show you affection and to bond with you.
NOTE – You may also want to read this post asking the question: Why do dogs often stick their tongues out?
3. They Like The Taste Of Your Saliva
Human saliva is salty. Just as humans do, dogs also like the taste of salt.
It could be that simple. Your dog might just think your saliva is delicious.
Which, if you think about it, is a kind of compliment and better than them thinking it tastes awful (especially when you think about what else they lick)!
(You might also enjoy this post – why does your dog lick your spit).
4. There Is Something Wrong With Your Dog
Sadly, dogs can’t talk to their owners, but fortunately, they have other ways of communicating with us non-verbally.
Dogs use barks, whines, growls, body language, licking, biting, and nuzzling to communicate with their owners and other dogs.
Your dog might be stressed or in pain and is licking your mouth to let you know about it.
If you think this might be the case for your pup, keep a close eye out for any other signs of distress, pain, or sickness, and take them to the vet if you think something serious is wrong with them.
If you are in financial difficulty and are worried about vet bills, this site lists helpful resources for charities to help you pay your bills.
(If you don’t live in the US, you can use Google to find similar help in your country, there is a lot of support for dog owners who are in difficulty).
5. They Think There Is Something Wrong With You
Before we talk about this one, it’s important to say, please don’t worry!
It is doubtful that your dog licks inside your mouth because you have a disease.
However, with that said, some dogs do have a remarkable ability to spot ailments in humans.
From licking a rash to sniffing out the onset of Parkinson’s disease, some dogs can spot a wide range of human illnesses.
If you have any symptoms or your dog seems worried or upset when they lick your mouth, it might be worth talking to your doctor.
6. You Accidentally Trained Your Pup To Lick In Your Mouth
While this might sound surprising, it is easy to train your dog into a behavior pattern accidentally.
For example, let’s say your dog randomly licked your mouth 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 inside your mouth, you will be nice to them.
So whenever they want some attention and affection from you, they lick your mouth and see if it works.
You could, of course, look at this the other way around.
That your dog has trained you to pet them when they lick you.
Perhaps our dogs are a lot smarter than we realize.
NOTE – Before you read further, you might enjoy this video about why dogs lick their owner’s mouths.
Just click on the video to start playing:
Should You Let Your Dog Lick Inside Your Mouth?
You should not let your dog lick inside your mouth if you want to avoid the risk of infection.
Canine saliva has some nasty bugs. As a result, diseases and parasites can be transmitted from pet dogs to their owners.
With licking inside of your mouth, there is a real risk of infection due to the bugs being able to get inside your body easily.
So while it is usually considered safe to let your dog lick your skin (as long as the skin isn’t damaged), in this case, you shouldn’t let them do it.
Of course, it’s your choice, but the best advice is not to let a dog lick the inside of your mouth.
How to Stop Your Dog from Licking Inside Your Mouth
The most obvious and easiest way to stop this canine mouth-licking behavior is to prevent them from being able to get close to your face.
For example, if they tend to do it when you are in bed, stop letting them sleep in your bed.
If that isn’t ideal for you, another option is to train them to understand the “No” command.
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 in your mouth – you need to 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, jumping up at people, or licking your mouth.
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, 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 should notice a reduction in this mouth-licking behavior.
Not only that, but if they do carry on with the licking, you will be able to stop them much more quickly.
Final Thoughts On Why Your Dog Likes Licking Inside Your Mouth
If your dog likes licking inside your mouth, it will be due to one of these reasons:
- They are asking to be fed.
- They are bonding with you.
- Your saliva is tasty.
- There is something wrong with them.
- They think there is something wrong with you.
- You accidentally trained them to do it.
There is a relatively high risk of catching some nasty bugs from your dog’s saliva, so the best advice is not to let them lick your mouth.
The easiest way to stop the behavior is to make it hard for them to get close to your mouth.
You can also use the “No” command and distraction to eliminate or reduce this mouth licking.
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!