Why do dogs lick belly buttons? (Yikes!)

So, you have a pooch. You love him. He loves you. You have your issues. He has his. 

You have an understanding…

But one thing you can’t get over is the fact that your dog likes to lick belly buttons.

What the heck is up with that?

In this post, I share answers.

First, I’ll start with the most likely causes. Then we’ll do a little anatomy lesson to understand behavior. Finally, I’ll finish with some ways to manage licky-belly-button syndrome.

Why Dogs Lick Belly Buttons

We think dogs lick their owners’ belly buttons for one of two reasons. The first is because they love us and find our belly buttons irresistible. The second reason is that they’re worried about something, and licking our belly buttons helps relieve their anxiety.

That’s what we think. Let us know your take in the comments!

Reason #1 Our Belly Buttons Are Irresistible

What on earth do they find interesting about a belly button? It’s got to be the funky smell. You know, the lint-infested, rotten cheese smell some of you got going on in your belly buttons.

I know, I know. Your belly button is clean.

Right. Well, your dog thinks different. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have landed on my post about why dogs lick belly buttons. If you’re having a hard time, it’ll be okay, I promise. I’m going to ask you to try something. I’m going to ask you to read the entire post with your eyes only.

What will you see if you do this?

It’s okay. We’ll wait right here while you finish reading and then come back.

…..

Hi! Welcome back.

How did you do? Did you try the reading-only part? It’s pretty important. You see, if you couldn’t do it and instead looked at the pictures, then you’re my kind of person. I’m glad we met. Let’s stay in touch!

Reason #2 Belly Buttons are an Anxiety Reducer

Dogs lick their owners’ belly buttons because they love us, and they’re worried about something. It’s the same reason they lick their paws at times. Only our presence, and our belly button, to be exact, calms them.

So if your dog is anxious about the garbage man or the vacuum cleaner, one way to get your dog to chill is to let him lick your belly button. If the mere thought of this makes you feel uncomfortable, then you’ve got options.

First, you can do the belly button trick yourself. Just lay on the floor and do your best, Elmer Fudd, as you say belly button repeatedly.

If that’s not your thing, there are plenty of other ways to get a zen-type effect on your dog.

Alternatively, you could teach him to not lick your belly button.

We’ll get to that in a minute.

Reason #3 Belly Buttons Taste Good (To Dogs)

Why do dogs lick belly buttons? (Yikes!)

I don’t know what a belly button tastes like, but if I had to imagine it, I’d say it tastes like salty sweat mixed with expired sour cream. Which is just the type of thing a dog would like.

Since belly buttons are like little pieces of human skin, your dog probably thinks they taste good too. The salt and sweat on your skin build up around the belly button. The oils on the skin add flavor, I guess. Dogs are unique like that.

Reason #4 We Make a Funny Noise When We’re Licked (or Squeal or Laugh)

Dogs don’t know what laughter is, but they know we make funny noises when they lick our belly buttons. The “hoo hoo ha ha” sounds we make when we’re tickled sound a lot like the way dogs sound when they play or fight with each other. So, the belly button licking probably makes them feel good because it makes us feel good.

If you have a down day and your dog can sense hit, he may have to go for the one area you ticklish in. It’s probably your belly button.

Reason #5 Belly Buttons Create a Source of Positive Reinforcement for Dogs

Have you ever had that feeling when you come home, and your dog is so happy to see you that he runs around and makes a complete nuisance of himself? He jumps on things, spins in circles, and knocks stuff over.

Most of the time, all it takes to calm him down is to pet him. He becomes instantly zen when petted because it feels good and gets him what he wants.

How To Get Your Dog To Stop Licking Your Belly Button

Okay, so what do you do if you DONT want your dog to lick your belly button?

Why do dogs lick belly buttons? (Yikes!)

I have two tips for you:

Tip #1 Praise Lick-Free Belly Button Behavior

If you want to get your dog to do something different, like not lick your belly button, you have to start rewarding the behavior you DO want. For example, if your dog is licking your belly button, and he goes to lick it some more but then decides not to and just looks up at you instead. Give him lots of praise. 

If he doesn’t look at you immediately after stopping the licking or squealing behavior, then go back and praise him for making the decision not to lick. You’ll need to do this consistently for it to become a habit.

Tip #2 Do a Belly Button Clicker Training Session

If you have a clicker, now would be a good time to pull it out. It’s very important to click the exact moment your dog decides to stop licking your belly button. It also helps if you have him on a leash, just to keep things orderly.

We’re going to do three steps:

Step 1: Click when your dog stops licking/squealing/tickling you. Give him lots of praise and confidence while taking him away from the area he was in (bellybutton) and move him somewhere else in the house (or even outside). Reward him with his favorite treat when he gets it right.

Step 2 – Repeat step 1

Step 3: Repeat steps 1 and 2 until your dog gets it.

Your job here is to make sure that your dog always knows when you tell him to stop. DO NOT JUST CLICK WHEN YOU THINK HE’S STOPPING. It will take a lot of practice for your dog to learn what you want him to do, and it can take weeks or months for them to fully grasp the concept.

So, go ahead and click when he stops licking/squealing/tickling! Give lots of positive confirmation, praise, and treats! Your dogs going to love you for this one! I’m sure of it… trust me.

You can get an affordable clicker on Amazon that will do the job.

Tip #3 Tell Him “NO” in a Firm Tone

This is a great way to stop your dog from licking you. I don’t care if he’s playing with you, rolling around on the floor, or chewing on any of your things. He must stop what he’s doing and wait for you to tell him otherwise.

It’s simple: when we see that our dogs have stopped doing something, we tell them “NO” (or “Not Now”) in a firm tone. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small, medium, or big dog either; they all respond well to this command no matter the size.

You just have to stick to your guns, so your dog knows that you mean business. Tell him “NO” and then follow through with a firm hand.

Tip #4 Try the Subliminal Message Method

This is to let your dog know that what he’s doing is not okay. It’s even simpler than telling a dog “NO” in a firm tone. Just look at your dog, give him the evil eye (yes, I mean it!), and then point at him and say the word “NO” as if you’re accentuating each syllable. If you do this with enough passion, your dog will get the message: NO! He’ll stop licking you immediately.

You hardly have to say a word here. Eventually, your dog will learn the look. All you’ll have to get him to do to stop is glance at him a certain way.

You can even teach him what the happy look is. There can be a stark contrast between the two, so he really knows the difference. Praise and exaggerated facial expressions are the keys here – simply tell your dog the “good look” and reward him. You’ll get the hang of it quickly.

Why Dogs Lick Belly Buttons in the First Place

I mentioned that a dog’s licking can be an attempt to comfort us. What if your dog doesn’t like you?

Make sure you know your dog, and you will know when he’s trying to comfort you. If he is, make sure he knows that you appreciate the effort. Let him know that it means something to you by telling him, “good boy.”

Another reason why dogs lick belly buttons is that it’s fun. I say this because it’s obvious if your dog does it for any other reason. After all, he won’t be doing it often.

Are dog licks really kisses?

Yes, in a way, they are. Dogs lick for different reasons. They’re not always comforting us. They lick to smell us or clean themselves, for example. But when they are happy, content, or excited to see us, they lick! It can be affection too.

Why do dogs lick themselves?

This is probably the most common reason dogs lick people and other stuff: they’re licking to clean themselves up! The licking may also be an attempt to soothe themselves when they’re stressed out or anxious (or just plain bored).

Do Dogs lick when they are happy?

Yes, and they may lick more when they are happy. Most dog lovers will tell you that their dogs love to lick them.

Do dogs only lick face and legs?

No, do not only lick their faces or legs! You will find your dog licking his paws, the floor, and other random stuff around the house. He might be trying to clean up after himself or just have a funky odor he’s trying to mask with his own saliva.

Final Thoughts

Well now you know why dogs lick belly buttons! What do you think the reason is for your dog? let us know in the comments below!

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