Your dog perceives your head as the tip of a super-sized ice-cream. Sprinkled in chicken flavour.
(They even might lick your hair like it’s the most normal thing in the world.)
You wish that you could speak the secret language of dogs.
Just to know why dogs do this.
It’s your lucky day!
Here you’ll find out the real reasons why dogs lick your head (and hair).
- What your dog is trying to tell you by doing this.
- Whether this behavior could be due to an underlying health issue.
- The #1 danger for your dog’s health if they lick the hair on your head.
- 5 easy tips to stop the behavior and prevent it from happening again.
- And this is just the beginning…
Why does my dog lick my hair on my head?
Your dog licks your hair on your head because that’s how they show affection, or they like the taste of your skin, want to groom you, think this is acceptable, follow your example, want to calm you down, attempt to heal a wound or a scratch, want your attention or have an underlying medical issue.
People also ask:
9 reasons why your dog/puppy licks your hear
#1: Showing affection
This is your dog’s sincere way of showing you how much they love you. One way through which dogs show their positive emotions for you is by licking.
So don’t be too surprised if your pup jumps on you and start licking your head enthusiastically.
#2: Liking the taste or smell of your head
Dogs explore the world primarily through their nose and tongue. So if they like the texture of your hair, they might stick their tongue to it (more than once).
Then there’s also the fact that your scent might play a role. It’s scientifically proven that dogs associate their dog parents’ smell with something positive.
Scientists tested how dogs would react to 5 different smells:
- That of a stranger.
- The dog’s own smell.
- A familiar dog’s smell.
- A strange dog’s smell.
- The smell of a familiar human.
The result was that dogs reacted to all smells. But the scent they responded to the most was that of their beloved human.
Then there’s also the possibility that your dog likes the scent of your shampoo, hair mask, or conditioner.
Or you’ve just exercised, and your pooch wants to get a taste of your sweat. “Gross!”, you might think. But your dog thinks otherwise. Because canines are suckers for salt.
And you become extra salty upon exercise.
#3: Grooming you
Dogs groom each other. This happens by licking a furry part of the other dog’s body. Underbellies and private parts remain for personal grooming.
So this might be your dog’s attempt to clean you. Like a mother dog would do with her pups.
Here’s a grooming session that was kindly given to this dog parent (it will turn a smile on your face, promised):
#4: Thinking this is the acceptable place to lick you
If you’ve done nothing to show your dog you’re displeased with them licking your head, they might think it’s okay. And since it’s fine with you, why would they stop?
#5: Following your example
Do you kiss your dog on the head? Maybe you like to pat them there. So your dog could be simply following your example.
And as a result, they’ll shower you with affection by licking your head.
#6: To calm you down
Mother dogs start licking their puppies. This soothes and calms the pups down. It’s instinctual.
Maybe it happens because your dog senses you’re nervous. As a result, you become tense. Or perhaps you’re angry.
As the caring companions dogs are, they might attempt to calm you down. By licking the hair on your head.
Adult dogs may also do this among themselves. If you have two dogchildren, they might take care of each other like that.
It’s not uncommon that one dog would start licking the other one. Or sucking on their ear. While this may seem purposeless and weird to you, there’s quite a noble intention behind it.
#7: Healing purposes
Dogs are such energetic, crazy creatures sometimes. They can get so lost in play that they won’t notice how they hurt themselves.
You’ll see them running in fields, jumping over obstacles, and wrestling with each other. After such activities, you might notice scratches on their ears and legs.
A dog won’t be bothered by such minor injuries on their body. But their best canine buddy might be. So they’ll start licking the wounds to make it better.
The same empathetic approach is not just reserved for other dog friends. But also for humans. Tif you have a sore on your head, for example, your dog could try to heal it.
#8: Getting your attention and affection
Do you start laughing or petting your dog once they start licking your head?
Actually, you’re doing more than that. You’re rewarding your dog by giving them attention. It doesn’t matter if it’s by talking to them or touching them. Or even if it’s negative attention.
In short, you’re reinforcing the behavior.
And when your dog is bored, they might start licking your head again. Because this behavior works like a charm. One lick and boom – instant attention! 🙂
That’s also how your dog can get treats, food, water. And last but not least, get you to interact with them. Plus, hopefully, start a game of tug. Or go out for a nice refreshing walk.
#9: A medical issue
If your dog has an underlying medical issue, they might start licking obsessively. But most often, the reasons for obsessive licking are behavioral and not medical.
The biggest danger of letting your dog lick your hair
You might wonder why anyone would want their dog to stop licking the hair on their head. It has to do with something far more important than a person’s hairstyle.
It’s related to the health of your dog.
They might be in great danger if you let them lick your hair regularly.
“Why?” you might ask.
Here’s what Healthline reports on the matter of falling hair:
“According to the American Academy of Dermatologists, it’s normal to lose anywhere from 50 to 100 strands of hair per day.”
So imagine what could happen while your dog grooms you on the head.
One of my neighbors shared a disturbing story about her Pomeranian. The dog is just 6 years old and has already been through an operation.
And not because of an inherited health issue or an accident with another dog.
But because the Pom swallowed all the hair that has fallen on the floor from my neighbor’s daughter-in-law.
The vets took a ball of human hair out of the Pomeranian’s tummy. It has caused obstruction, and the Pom’s life was at stake.
Needless to explain how frustrated and stressed the family of the Pom was… So if you want to save yourself and your cute pooch such trouble, there are 3 things you can do:
- Prevent your dog from licking the hair on your head.
- Clean up the floor from fallen hair by vacuuming once a week.
- Waste no time and buy a floor dust and hair sweeper called Swiffer (it works wonders for me in just 5 minutes per day).
Now that you’re aware of the risks let’s jump into the practical part of this article. Namely…
5 tips to stop your dog/puppy from licking your hair
#1: Stand up and leave the room
In other words: ignore your dog.
I know it’s hard, especially if you’re not bothered by your dog licking your hair. But remember that their health comes above all.
Plus, there are plenty of other safe ways your dog can show you affection.
Teach your dog that licking your head is not acceptable.
As soon as your dog attempts to stick that tongue in your hair, say “NO” firmly without raising your voice.
Then stand up and leave the room. Close the door behind you too. This sends a clear message to your dog.
It goes something like “If you continue to do this, you’ll lose your dearest play buddy.”
Stay away from the room for 5-10 minutes. Then come back and observe. If your dog attempts to do the same, repeat the action.
Note: Remember to leave a pause between going out and in the room. This way the dog will relate your reaction to their action.
#2: Reward the behavior you want
By now, your dog is expecting to get attention from you every time they lick your hair. Surprise your dog. Give them attention when they don’t lick the hair on your head.
These could be encouraging words such as “Good boy/girl!” A pat on the head. The oh-so-favorite belly or ear scratches. Or a small dog snack.
Anything to show them you’re happy with their current behavior. Which is not licking your head.
#3: Give enough attention throughout the day
The main reason why your dog acts like this when you’re around is that they don’t get the needed attention during the day. This is easily fixable though.
#4: Don’t neglect your dog’s exercise
A bored dog would do anything to entertain themselves. And when you’re around, they’ll try to involve you in their activities. If you pay attention to them that is.
Such kind of behavior stems from the lack of sufficient exercise. And because your dog’s view of fun doesn’t overlap with yours.
So go out there and exercise your dog. It’s fun and beneficial for both of you. Bam! Two birds with one stone.
Note: Consult with a vet regarding how much exercise your dog should get a day. The licensed professional will consider your dog’s breed, age, and overall health condition.
#5: Stimulate your dog mentally
Besides physical exercise, your dog will need mental one. It’s like going to yoga or hitting the gym, and then getting to play a game of associations like Dixit. Well, sort of.
Dogs would love some mental challenges. Your pup will enjoy some puzzle games. Like a Stuffed Kong.
This is a treat dispenser. But to get the treats, your dog has to put in the work. And take it from science, dogs love putting effort into getting treats.
Researchers tested the responses of two groups of dogs.
The first group was handed treats occasionally without doing anything particular. The second was trained to perform certain tasks.
The group who worked for their prizes showed higher levels of enthusiasm. In comparison, the group who had no job to do was feeling hesitant and even anxious.
A possible explanation is that the group who knew exactly what it was supposed to do was sure they’re gonna get rewarded. While the other one was constantly questioning what’s about to happen.
But hey, if you just hand your canine a couple of treats just like that, your dog would most probably gulp them. Althought hey won’t be find it as half as enjoyable as when they’ve earned their snack.
BONUS: Redirect your dog’s attention
Want your dog to ditch licking your head?
Then give them something else to do!
I mean, say you were at work. And you had enough workload for the next 3 days. Would you be solving crossword puzzles then? Or looking somewhere out of the window so the time would pass by?
Most likely not.
So instead of hoping that your dog will stop on their own, give them something interesting to do.