Why does my dog lick my face? It is because she loves me, or does she just love the salt and oil on my face? Does she do it because she just licked her own butt?
-- Dogface, the net
Uh, like, maybe you should stop using that Alpo aftershave. Are you complaining or just curious about this licking thing? Just curious answer: As with many of our dog-behavior explanations, this one seems to come from the top-dog/average-dog relationship between owner and pooch. It's uncomfortably similar to our corporate butt-kissing. Face-licking is a common wolf or dog greeting when the also-rans approach the alpha animal. Unless your dog is completely out of control, you are the household CEO, and you're greeted accordingly. And by now, you've probably reinforced the behavior by going all googly and mooshy when she licks, so she knows she'll get her ears scratched and lots of attention, though it didn't start out that way. Puppies are usually more licky than adult dogs because it's part of their repertoire of communication with Mom and littermates. And speaking of Mom-- this butt-licking thing? Mom licks puppy's backside to stimulate urination and defecation, so if you don't like that habit, blame Mom.