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Why do dogs lick your face when you whisper into their ears?
October 2, 2006 11:57 PM   Subscribe

Why do dogs lick your face when you whisper (usually gibberish) into their ears?
posted by matkline to Pets & Animals (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
To induce you to regurgitate food for them. It works on their mothers.
posted by orthogonality at 12:04 AM on October 3, 2006


Because doing that brings your face within doggie tongue reach easily?
posted by gomichild at 1:01 AM on October 3, 2006


Actually, it really has nothing to do with the whispering. Face-licking is a submissive behavior; watch two dogs get to know each other, and once they've established dominance you'll quickly see the submissive dog licking the dominant one's face.
posted by jacobian at 3:28 AM on October 3, 2006


It's not a one-to-one correlation. I'd imagine you'd get different results depending on the dog you tried that with. I've never met a dog that tolerated blowing in their ear, however.

This is as non-smartass as I can get.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 6:05 AM on October 3, 2006


I always thought it was to get your face away from theirs. It only takes a few licks before I rear back in sloppy horror.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:50 AM on October 3, 2006


I always thought it was to get your face away from theirs. It only takes a few licks before I rear back in sloppy horror.

I lean towards this, slightly. We have a 9mo son who is naturally fascinated with the dogs, but unable to be gentle with them. We don't intervene as long as they're getting along, and the dogs seem to know how to handle things OK (it's all supervised).

Anyway, if my son gets in the face of either dog and they're uncomfortable, the licking starts in earnest. This usually either slows him down dramatically or drives him away. I wonder though if they see him as a dominant animal in the house, that would be funny.

My alternative answer as to why dogs lick you when you whisper in their ear, is because you're close enough for them to nab you.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:54 AM on October 3, 2006


(I don't know if there's one right answer to this, but let me point out that orthogonality's and jacobian's are at least compatible. If face-licking is typical puppy behavior, then it makes sense that adult dogs would use it to show submission and dependency.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:13 AM on October 3, 2006


Because they can. Wait, no, that's the answer to a different question.
posted by BaxterG4 at 2:29 PM on October 3, 2006


I think jacobian has it right. Though I'll up the metaphorical ante by suggesting that the whispering might be misinterpreted by the dog as a guttural noise similar to a growl. This might explain why just being within licking distance doesn't always cause you to get licked, but whispering does. The dog is trying to display is submissiveness.
posted by quin at 5:45 PM on October 3, 2006


Scientific answer
posted by growabrain at 7:51 PM on October 3, 2006


Because dogs don't understand much people language, and assume you are whispering 'sweet nothings', and that gets you a kiss. If you were angry, you'd yell, and they would go down on their back to display a submissive pose.

I've seen submissive behavior, and I've seen plenty affectionate behavior, from dogs. Both may involve licking. One simply has more entusiasm.
posted by Goofyy at 4:27 AM on October 4, 2006


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