Dogs may lick a baby’s face for a variety of reasons. It may be trying to play with the baby, or, it could be trying to assert its dominance over the child. Either way, this behavior should not be allowed for health and safety reasons.
A dog’s mouth carries a lot of germs, which can easily be passed to people. This is especially problematic for babies and immune suppressed adults. Both are at an increased risk of contracting infections and parasites from dogs. So, even though it may look cute, a dog licking a baby’s face should not be allowed. In fact, I don’t recommend it even for healthy adults. If your dog likes to give the adults in the family “kisses,” let them lick your hand and then immediately wash your hand thoroughly afterward.
If a dog is licking a baby’s face to assert its dominance, that can set-up a dangerous dynamic that can lead to the dog biting the baby. It’s best not to allow your dog to exhibit dominant behavior over your children. It’s also important to teach children, from the youngest age possible, how to interact with a dog – such as don’t pull its ears or tail, don’t sit or lay on the animal, etc.
Have a question for Dr. Klein? Email him at CVO@akc.org.