As a dog owner, you already know that dogs are intuitive animals. This may have you questioning, “why do dogs lick your face when you cry?” Not only can dogs understand what their owners are feeling, but they also have the cutest ability to show humans empathy when they need it the most. Of course, dogs cannot show empathy the way humans can, but you will always know what it is trying to tell you, such as when it licks your face when you cry.
Why does my dog like my face when I cry?
Dogs like tears because they like the taste of salt but also because this is one of the ways dogs show affection. A mother dog will lick its puppies to show affection and caretaking. A puppy learns behavior patterns from its mother and then transfers them to you as it views you as its companion.
Dogs have unconditional love for their humans. When their owners shed tears of grief, a dog will rush to their side to comfort them. From a young age, dogs have learned to soothe themselves by the act of licking. This is why it uses the same tactic on you to show some compassion and love.
As dog experts, we know everything there is to know about dogs. Here, we will explore the reasons your dog licks your face when you cry and talk about a dog’s empathetic nature.
Why Do Dogs Lick People?
Dogs explore the world with their tongues- they lick everything they come into contact with, especially their masters. When they are born, dogs learn to lick themselves just as their mother licks them. Of course, a dog’s reason for licking you depends mainly on your situation.
When you come out of the shower, your dog may be licking the water off your skin or because the body shower you used makes you smell delicious.
Dogs also lick their owners as a sign of love and affection. A mother dog will lick her young ones to boost their nervous system to urinate and defecate till they can do so themselves.
A puppy views licking as a sign of love. The way a mother dog licks her young ones is carried on to when the puppy grows up and licks its owner. Not only are they showing affection, but they are also enjoying the sense of security they get by licking you.
Why Do Dogs Lick Your Face When You Cry?
It is common social behavior for a dog to lick another animal or human’s face. They may lick in an attempt to please the other party or show respect.
When they were younger, they used to lick their mother’s mouth till they were given food. Over time, this became a greeting. Pack members and wild dogs will also welcome one other by licking their faces.
Your dog may lick your face when you cry to show affection or comfort you because this is their mechanism to deal with sadness or injuries since it soothes them and helps them feel better. It could also simply be that your dog likes the taste of your tears, particularly the salt.
Besides licking your face, your dog may also do the following:
- Lick your hands or legs
- Put their head on your lap
- Outstretch their paw to place in your hand
- Bring you their favorite toy
- Drop a ball at your feet
- Get you their leash so that you can take them out and get distracted
Are Dogs Showing Empathy When You Cry?
Dogs can definitely show empathy. If a dog sees you or a stranger crying, it will always rush to offer comfort. Apart from empathy, this is a common way dogs also show sympathy. They want to comfort someone feeling emotional distress and know no other way to do this than by licking their face.
Think of your dog’s mind as the mind of a toddler 2 to 3 years old. When toddlers are two years old, they also show signs of empathy. If you cry in front of them, they will also try to comfort you in their little ways.
Researchers show that when a dog sees you crying or upset, your attitude starts affecting it. This is why they come close to you and try to nuzzle you. Not only are they comforting you, but they are also comforting how they are feeling looking at you.
However, some scientists claim that dogs have no way of showing empathy. In fact, the reason they approach humans when they are crying is simply that they are curious.
To understand dog psyche, two psychologists in London from Goldsmiths college performed an experiment. They wanted to see if dogs could show empathy to their owners when they were in emotional distress.
Eighteen dogs were tested and observed in the homes of their owners. The experiment was simple- a stranger along with the dog’s owner, had to stand six feet from the dog. One of them hummed while the other pretended to cry.
The idea was that if dogs were simply curious, they would approach the person who is humming because the sound is new to them, but if they can show empathy, they will run to the person who is crying.
Out of the 18 dogs in the experiment, 15 of them rushed to the person who was crying. This shows that dogs react empathetically and want to comfort humans when they are crying rather than just satisfy their curiosity.
However, licking your face when you are crying is just one-way dogs react to your sadness- they may also react in completely different ways- some dogs ignore their owners when they are crying, while others leave the side of their owners and hide in another room.
Are Doggy Licks Really Kisses?
When dogs lick you, they are showing you affection. Hence, we can deduce that doggy licks are really just kisses. Dogs tend to lick humans when they are feeling stressed, as this is their way of trying to comfort them.
Dogs will also lick each other’s faces because they know it is soothing and can help make other animals feel better.
Should You Stop Your Dog from Licking Your Face?
Whether you want to stop your dog from licking your face when crying is completely up to you. If you find it comforting and don’t have an issue with it, then there is no need for you to end this habit.
However, if you do not like that your dog always licks your face when you are upset or makes you feel uncomfortable, you can train them so that they stop doing it. This can be done by pushing the dog’s head gently away each time they start to lick your face and assertively saying “no.” We would recommend that you deal with your gently while firmly every time your dog licks your face till they learn that they are not supposed to.
You can also use treats or toys to distract your dog when it starts to lick your face. Keep in mind that dogs have a very low attention span, so all you need to do is give it a treat or throw a toy their way, and it will forget all about licking your face.