Dog licking is natural behavior. It’s an affectionate activity of dogs that can be used to strengthen their bond with their owner, show satisfaction of having completed a task or simply because it feels good. After eating your dog will likely go through the sequence of gnawing on his paws, followed by grooming himself and eventually settling in for a nice session of self-directed satisfaction. But why is my pup so keen on licking me when I first wake up?
Dogs are highly social animals, they live in packs and have developed some specialized behaviors over time in order to survive in tight knit communities. One such behavior that has survived throughout history is greeting each other after being separated in order to reaffirm social bonds between pack members. A dog licking you when you first wake up is subconsciously reaffirming that your bond remains intact and secure after a night of sleep.
At this stage, it’s important to point out that not all dogs use their mouths as a way to communicate with us – some may simply lick our skin for the salty taste of it – but most will do so as a sign of affection towards us. This means that they’ve learned to associate licking with a positive sensation, making them more inclined to repeat the behavior in hopes of experiencing those feelings once again. By doing so, they can help maintain the relationship between owner and pet since there is now an emotional association with your pup’s tongue on your skin (in turn reinforcing his “pack” bond with you).
This behavior can also be linked to something called the “orienting reflex” – a neurological response that’s triggered when an animal or person finds themselves in new, unfamiliar territory. When your pup licks you, he is trying to re-associate himself with his surroundings after waking up. That means it could eventually lead to the dog cocking its head towards where it has heard or felt something that’s triggered its senses.
If this seems familiar then it’s because similar behaviors are observed in dogs that are used by police units around the world to detect narcotics and explosives. But for now, lets stick with the basic fact that your pup will likely begin licking anything new placed within reach of his tongue before continuing on with the day.
The third and final reason as to why your pup is licking you as soon as you wake up has less to do with communication than it does with instincts that have been drilled into dogs for hundreds of years. When wolves, their closest relative, roam around in packs they also lick each other – especially when they’ve been away from one another for a long period of time. Dogs also sleep with their tongue out sometime too. So as soon as they wake up they start licking you.
Licking Morning Behaviour
Since dogs share these same genes and body language (just like how we can understand basic facial expressions like happiness), there’s a good chance that your pup may be licking you because he sees you as part of his pack. This habit could also be related to the fact that many wild animals engage in this form of affectionate behavior before eating their prey. This probably isn’t the case when it comes to humans, but it might explain why your dog is licking you so enthusiastically every morning.
If this behavior still seems odd and out of place in your household, then it’s time to take a step back and separate yourself from the situation at hand. Licking someone when they first wake up can be associated with many different reasons or emotions such as comfort, happiness or even stress relief. The best way to help determine what exactly is going on is by focusing on your pup’s overall demeanor before licking kicks in. Is he acting normally? Does his body language show signs of discomfort (tail tucked away between his legs, ears down etc.)? What about and after licking occurs? All of these aspects can help determine exactly why your pup is licking you…and hopefully put an end to what seems like a weird morning routine.