Dogs are man’s best friend. They are loyal and loving pets. They greet you when you come home and make the sweetest faces when they beg for caresses or food. But most importantly, they lick their owners very often! Why do they?
Is it dangerous to let your dog lick you all the time? Is this normal behavior for your dog? Why does your dog lick you? In this article, we’ll give you all the answers.
Why does your dog lick you so much?
Licking is a perfectly natural and instinctive behavior for a dog. It only becomes a problem when your dog’s licking becomes too invasive or compulsive.
Dogs lick to show their affection
The first reason why a dog licks you is because he/she loves you. If we leave aside the fact that he/she uses his/her tongue to clean himself/herself, we must admit that licking also reveals the emotional side of this animal!
Female dogs, for example, lick their pups to clean them, but also to show them affection. The same goes for you. Your dog wants to show how much he/she cares about you. It’s no coincidence that people consider licks to be animal kisses.
Lastly, don’t think that your dog is licking you less because he doesn’t like you. Some dogs may not like it or may not have developed this behavior from a young age.
Dogs lick because they like your taste
Your dog may lick you because he/she likes the taste of you and more specifically the taste of sweat, which is salty. This taste is usually more pronounced on the hands and feet. This explains why the dog is inclined to lick you in these areas.
Moreover, dogs can associate this taste with your smell and lick you in order to identify you or become familiar with you. It is important to remember that for dogs, the tongue is an identification tool. With its many sensors, the tongue allows them to learn about an individual. By licking you, dogs can try to make sure that you are their owner. This is especially so if you are still getting to know each other.
To get your attention
Licking can be a way for your dog to get your attention. Owners tend to be sensitive to this kind of display of affection. As a reflex, they tend to give their dog a pat or a coo of affection when they lick.
Eventually, dogs understand that licking is a way to get your attention and to get what they want. In fact, no matter how you react when he/she licks you, the dog will see it as a response to the stimulus. Therefore, telling them no or hitting them to stop licking you is not the right solution.
Licking is also used by dogs to indicate that they need to be fed. The pups of wolves and wild dogs have always had the habit of licking their mother’s lips when she returns from hunting. Many experts have come to the conclusion that this habit is ingrained in the genes of domestic dogs. Dogs instinctively lick their master’s face when they are hungry.
To soothe you
One of the reasons why dogs are considered to be man’s best friend is their sensitivity to our emotions. As far as animals are concerned, dogs can “feel” when you are not well when you are sad, angry, or stressed. They will try to soothe you, most commonly by putting their head on your lap for you to pet them or even by licking you.
Dogs may also lick you in order to reassure themselves. This pet can also be prone to depression. Therefore, it is advisable to pay attention to the behavior of your companion to ensure that he/she is doing well.
Dogs lick out of boredom
Loneliness and boredom are feelings that can cause a dog to seek your attention by licking you. Hunger is not the only explanation!
It is therefore important to ensure that your pet has enough physical and recreational activities and that it gets enough attention. In other words, take your dog for a walk from time to time so that he/she doesn’t get bored and annoy you by licking you.
Licking can be considered a sign of submission from the dog. This is especially true if your dog insists on licking your feet.
Obsession or compulsion
Dogs are animals that can suffer from behavioral disorders and consequently develop a compulsion to lick you excessively. Licking is a behavioral disorder when it is too frequent. Especially when dogs lick any surface, both your body and your furniture. In this case, it is imperative that you take him/her to a veterinarian. The veterinarian will be able to prescribe medication or natural remedies to calm your dog’s anxiety.
Note that behaviorists can also help you discover the origin of this disorder in order to treat it.
Is it dangerous for my dog to lick me?
Licking is a natural part of your dog’s life and you should accept it. However, a few precautions should be taken.
Should you let your dog lick you?
Overall, letting your dog lick you is not a problem in and of itself. Especially if it’s not too frequent and if he/she doesn’t insist on licking your face.
Although some owners allow their dogs to lick their face and even their mouth, it should be remembered that a dog’s tongue is a real nest for bacteria! It is therefore recommended that you do not let your dog lick your mouth or your wounds. If this should happen, be sure to clean the wound well to prevent any risk of infection.
How do you stop your dog from excessively licking you?
After you’ve made sure that licking is not a behavioral disorder in your dog, you can limit his/her licking sessions without a vet’s intervention by using a few tricks. For example, don’t react at all when he/she licks. The lack of response will let him/her know that he/she needs to do something else to get your attention.
You can also control this behavior by training your dog to respond to a word like “kiss”. Give him/her a treat when he/she licks you after you say the word. Then, ignore him/her if he/she continues so that he/she learns that “kiss” is the signal to wait for him/her to start licking you.