All dog owners know how much a dog loves to lick, whether it’s themselves or their owners. There is almost no part of your body that they wouldn’t mind licking, even the belly button. If you have experienced this with your dog, you may be very curious as to why that’s the spot of choice and if it’s something you should be concerned about.
Dogs have a natural instinct to lick, and there are various reasons why your dog would choose to lick your belly button, most of which have no real concerns. Let’s look at the likely reasons, and you can decide whether the licking needs to stop.
9 Reasons Why Your Dog Licks Your Belly Button
Licking is one of the ways that dogs communicate, and your dog will lick your belly button to show affection. The belly button may seem like an odd choice, but it may just be the area of your body that is the most accessible or readily available.
When you sit or lie down, your dog’s head may reach the belly button area a lot easier, especially if it’s resting its head on your stomach for a rest and a cuddle.
It’s no surprise that dogs are social creatures and thrive on interaction with their humans. If you have been extra busy around the house or working longer hours, your dog may need some extra attention, and licking your belly button may be its way of getting that attention.
Even if you react negatively to a belly button lick, your dog has succeeded in getting your attention. If you suspect your dog is licking your belly button for attention, you should retrain them so they don’t do so. Throwing a ball or playing a game may stop your dog from licking your belly button temporarily, but will only reinforce the unwanted behavior in the future; your dog may quickly learn that licking your belly button is a sure fire way to get your attention.
Your dog may simply be curious, which would make sense because they are naturally curious creatures. As you know, a curious dog will use its incredible sense of smell to navigate its environment and explore its curiosities.
If your dog can smell your belly button, it will undoubtedly be curious, especially puppies exploring their environment. If your dog licked your belly button a few times and stopped, curiosity could easily be the reason, and your dog may no longer be curious.
4. It May be Soothing
Your dog may be licking your belly button to soothe its stress. If your dog is experiencing separation anxiety or is bored or upset, it may lick your belly button when you arrive home to feel close to you since licking releases endorphins that help your dog feel better.
5. Your Dog May be Trying to Groom You
Dogs are natural groomers that regularly groom themselves. They typically groom themselves by licking their fur, but they may try to groom their owner by licking their belly button. If your dog is very close to you, this behavior is likely, and it could be your dog’s way of telling you it loves you with a little grooming session.
6. Your dog May be Attracted to the Smell or Taste
You may have noticed that your dog enjoys licking other body parts, like your arms and legs, especially after a workout. This is because dogs enjoy the taste of the salt and oils your skin produces, and your belly button may be the salty area of choice.
It is also possible that your dog is attracted to the smell because belly buttons can quickly collect dirt, which can produce an attractive or curious smell for your dog. Even if you think it smells bad, your dog may feel differently.
7. You May Have a Wound Near Your Belly Button
If you have a wound that you may or may not be aware of, that could be why your dog is licking your belly button. A wound will smell different than the rest of your skin, and licking a wound is instinctive for dogs. So, if your dog licks your belly button because of an injury, it’s just trying to take care of you.
Though dogs may instinctively try to lick an open wound, allowing them to do so isn’t recommended by health professionals. Have a doctor look at your wound and don’t allow your dog to lick it. The microbes in your dog’s saliva may cause a dangerous infection in your wound.
Your dog may be licking your belly button as an interesting way to show dominance. Showing dominance doesn’t always involve barking or growling. Consider seeing a behavioral specialist or qualified trainer if the licking includes other aggressive behavior.
9. You May Be Pregnant
Are you expecting a baby? Dogs can pick up any behavioral changes in their owner, and if your hormones cause those changes, your dog will pick it up, even if you haven’t realized it yet. Some dogs can detect the hormonal changes that come with pregnancy, and licking your belly button may be a response.
Many women have claimed their dogs seemed to know they were pregnant before taking a test. Along with belly button licking, some women found that their dogs became more protective.
Should You Stop Your Dog from Licking Your Belly Button?
The answer to this question comes down to personal choice. If you don’t have a problem with your dog licking your belly button, then by all means, let it continue. However, you should remember that a dog’s saliva can contain bacteria that can be transferred if you have an open wound.
How Do I Stop My Dog From Licking My Belly Button?
If belly button kisses are not your thing, there are some tricks you can try to get the belly button licking to stop.
Visit Your Veterinarian
Visit your veterinarian and have them examine your dog to ensure that your dog has no underlying health or behavioral issues that result in them licking your belly button.
Seek Professional Help
If your dog doesn’t respond to your attempts to stop them from licking your belly button, consider hiring a professional dog trainer for assistance.
Train Your Dog with Positive Reinforcement
You can reward your dog whenever it doesn’t lick your belly button to reinforce the behavior. Consistently use treats and verbal praise to associate a positive response to the unwanted behavior.
Divert Your Dogs Attention
You can redirect your dog’s attention with a toy or treat, but you must do this carefully. If you treat your dog every time it licks your belly button, you are asking for more belly button kisses! This will reinforce the behavior and teach your dog that it will get a treat when it licks.
Wait until your dog has redirected its attention to the new toy, and when it stops licking, give it a treat. You should also be used to the signs by now that your dog is making its way toward your belly button, so try redirecting the behavior before it starts licking.
Ignore Your Dog
It may be easier said than done, but if you can summon the patience to ignore your dog, it will learn that it’s not getting the attention and will soon move on to something else. Again, once your dog stops licking you, give it a treat to reinforce the behavior of not licking.
Determine if Your Dog is Anxious
If you suspect the licking could be due to anxiety, you need to determine what is causing the anxiety. Have you recently started leaving your dog alone for longer? Have you moved recently? Once you have determined the trigger for the anxiety, you can take steps to reduce it and help your dog feel safe.
Inspect Your Belly Button
Thoroughly inspect your belly button to ensure it is clean and that you don’t have any health issues. Look for signs of infection or discharge, check for rashes, and feel around for pain. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as you can, and don’t allow your dog to lick your belly button, as it could make it worse.
Your dog licking your belly button may sound absurd and strange, but it doesn’t seem too strange once you know the possible reasons. Your dog may simply be trying to get your attention, show you affection, or be curious. If you don’t mind your dog licking your belly button, by all means, continue, but ensure you clean yourself afterward. If belly button licking is not to your taste, you will need to determine why your dog is licking you and redirect the behavior with positive reinforcement.