Why Does Your Dog Licks You Before Bedtime? Find Out

George Michael
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When your loyal companion leans in for a few goodnight licks, it’s a gesture that dog owners know all too well. But have you ever wondered why your furry sidekick insists on a pre-sleep lick? This canine custom is steeped in biology and affection, a fascinating glimpse into your pet’s mind. In this article, we’ll unpack the reasons behind your dog’s nighttime licks and deepen our understanding of this heartwarming ritual.

Canine Calming Mechanism

Licking isn’t merely a hygienic ritual for your dog; it’s a multifaceted behavior rooted in his evolutionary past. When a dog licks, it triggers the release of endorphins, also known as the ‘happiness hormones,’ both in the licker and the recipient. This self-soothing behavior is akin to a comforting human habit like thumb-sucking or nail-biting. Dogs, like humans, have their stress-relief methods, and licking is just the ticket for our canine companions to wind down after a long day.

Echoes of Puppyhood

The act of licking traces back to a dog’s earliest days when a mother would lick her pups to keep them clean and stimulate their circulation. After pups have eaten, the mothers lick their bellies to stimulate them to eliminate waste. This instinct from nursing days has never fully left dogs. Your dog may not be looking to clean you (fingers crossed), but the comforting motion on your skin could be reminiscent of those nurturing days.

A Lick of Love & Appreciation

A Lick of Love & Appreciation
Courtesy Of Stephanie Murton


Unsurprisingly, licking is one of the many ways dogs express affection. It’s a way of bonding and showing appreciation for your presence, care, and companionship. A lick before bed can very well be your dog’s way of saying “thank you” for the day’s adventures and expressing a dose of goodnight love.

Other Possible Reasons

While the reasons mentioned above are the most common, it’s crucial to be aware that licking can sometimes point to issues beyond simple affection. Excessive licking could signal allergies, anxiety, or even a compulsive behavior called acral lick dermatitis, which may require professional intervention. If you notice a sudden increase in licking, particularly if it seems excessive or compulsive, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health concerns.


Next time your dog wets your hand with a loving lick before bed, remember that there are complex emotions and instincts at play. Whether it’s a soothing ritual to end the day, a gentle callback to puppyhood, or simply a dog’s unique way of saying goodnight — it’s all a part of the special language that strengthens the bond between humans and their canine friends.

The charm of pet ownership lies in these little interactions, the intimate moments that reveal our pets’ intrinsic nature. And in these moments, we’re reminded of the unique companionship that only a dog can offer. The final takeaway? A wet nose and a warm snuggle from your dog are not just a sign of a peaceful night’s sleep awaiting you, but also a connection that transcends language and culture, rooted in the very biology of man’s best friend.


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