Why Does My Dog Lick My Eyes?
[The Complete Edition]

By kropek2021. • Updated June 30, 2021

You reach home after a long day at work, and as soon as your dog sees you, they run to you and start licking your eyes and your face. Yes, your dog showcases this behavior to express happiness and affection towards the owner’s arrival. But is that the only reason why dogs lick their owners’ eyes?

Dogs express themselves through their body language. They are naturally designed to display a plethora of emotions towards their favorite human beings. The reasons for each of their behaviors can vary from dog to dog. Jimmy, the labrador at my therapy center, used to lick my eyes incessantly whenever I bent down to shower some love. 

Read on to understand whether the licking of eyes is a good or bad thing, the reasons behind this behavior, and ways to control it.

Common Reasons Why Dogs Lick Owner’s Eyes

Here are some of the primary reasons why your canine friend is obsessed with your eyes.

Way of Showing Love, Duh!

Licking is one of the most prominent ways of showing love and affection towards their beloved owners. Licking your eyes to show their fondness for you is a dopamine release mechanism for puppies. 

As an owner, if you respond to the licks with a hug or kiss, this acts as positive reinforcement, and the dog tends to repeat this act more often. In case you are not happy with this aspect, there is always the option to encourage them for some other behavior apart from licking. This measure will prompt them to control the licking.

Figuring Out Our Mood

Dogs rely on their different senses to gauge the emotions of their human owner. Sometimes the odor of our skin or sweat can be decoded by dogs to understand what we are currently feeling. Be it happiness, anxiety, anger, and so on. 

Their tongue is not responsible for the mood decoding process. Instead, the vomeronasal organs help them gauge our mood and react accordingly. If they find out we are sad, they display the feeling of empathy. Dogs are emotional and sensitive beings. 

This aspect is the reason why dogs can sense their owners’ sadness very quickly. They also lick away your tears if you are crying to comfort you and because they enjoy the salty taste of your tears.

Act of Submission

Licking the eyes is a way of showing you that you are their leader and they are your loyal companions for life. This behavior is also a technique to vent their anxiety developed in your absence.

This behavior also says that they will obey your instructions with utmost sincerity. It is also likely that they are trying to groom you by licking your eyes, nose, or chin area.

Attention Seeking Method

Most dogs crave their owner’s attention. Jimmy boy (My Labrador) is not different. If I look away from him a few times while we are sitting down in the garden, he immediately licks my eyes as if conveying, “Dad, I’m right here!”.

There is the option to redirect this behavior by spending ample time playing and interacting with your dog and giving positive reinforcements in the form of encouraging words and treats for obedience training. This action will help them take their minds off from the licking.

Boredom

If your dog is not adequately engaged in physical and mental training exercises, they will tend to feel bobbed down and bored. This situation will lead to them getting involved in unnecessary and repetitive behaviors like the excessive licking of the owner’s eyes.

To avoid this issue, make sure your dog gets its fair share of physical training like walks, outdoor games, and cognitive enhancing puzzles and toys. The extent of physical activities will depend on the age and breed of your dog.

Age of Dog

Young puppies below the age of a year are in a discovery phase. They understand things by licking and sniffing almost anything they come across.

If your dog is in this puppy face, they are probably exploring the entity that is you while they lick your eyes. This act is not a cause of concern. Naturally, this behavior would lessen with the age and maturity of the dog.

These are some of the primary reasons why your canine buddy likes licking your eyes. But any canine behavior displayed beyond a specific limit is something that requires the owner’s immediate attention. We will discuss those in the next section.

Reasons Behind Excessive Licking of Eyes by Dogs

Incessant licking can end up being an unpleasant experience for you and a mechanism for your dog to let you know everything is not right.

  • Severe anxiety of being left alone for a considerable time can cause a trigger. Once the dogs see the owner, they vent it out by much licking.
  • Your dog may be suffering from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), causing it to repeat specific behaviors more than necessary.
  • They are hungry and want their owner to bring them food at the earliest.
  • They feel lonely and sad that their owner is ignoring them. They feel left out and depressed.
  • There is also the chance that your dog wants more space. If you notice that your dog moves away after a single lick, this response is a polite indicator that they want you to back off.

Decoding the behavior Using Nature of Licks

If you notice properly, dogs can vary their nature of licking the owners. Each of the licking variants can mean different things to them.

  • Long and noisy licks while their body remains calm indicate a way of showing affection.
  • A small and quick lick is a means to gauge your current mood.
  • A wet kiss, while their body is in wiggly motion, means that they feel comfortable in your presence and a recollection of happy memories with you.
  • Incessant and excited licks indicate they missed you and are glad that you returned home.

These are some general pointers around decoding your buddy’s motive behind various types of licking. Similar to humans, dogs also show their emotions in varying ways.  

Control Mechanisms to Lessen Excessive Licking

As pet owners, we do enjoy getting some sugar from our puppies. But too much of anything, including displays of affection, can turn out to be annoying at times. The following pointers can help you lessen/control the incessant licking of your eyes by the dog.

Stop Positive Reinforcements

Your dog will keep iterating actions that grant them rewards in the form of pats, comforting words, treats, and so on. So, the next time your dog shows this behavior, do not encourage it. This response will let them know that you do not find excessive licking a desirable act.

Some of the responses you can adopt are:

  • Get up and turn away when they lick you.
  • Reward the dog with treats after obedience training exercises.
  • Gently push the dog’s face away as it approaches to lick your eyes.

Give Them the Required Attention 

Spend some quality time with them during off-hours. Engage in outdoor games, puzzles, and casual conversations. This measure will make them understand they are wanted and will reduce the tendency to repeat unwanted behavior.

Redirection 

Gift them some chew toys and puzzles to play with. These can keep them engaged for several hours and distract them from licking your eyes.

A good juicy bone to chew upon is another effective redirection option.

Wrapping Up

Dogs and their body language are not the easiest to decode. The same principle goes with the licking behavior. When done in the right amount, it usually indicates their love and affection for you. 

Incessant licking of eyes can be their way of expressing an issue. It is recommended to get medical consultation in case the behavior is getting repeated heavily. The registered vets and dog trainers are the best judges to decode the cause of repeated licking of eyes or face.

As owners or trainers, we have the option to redirect/channel this unwanted canine behavior to something more productive. Engaging them in a systematic obedience training program and providing the proper reinforcement can distract them and lessen the licking. Giving them love and attention can be a game-changer that lets them know you value them and you consider them as family.

We hope we were able to answer your queries regarding this particular behavior in dogs.