If you have a dog who likes to lick you, you know what it’s like to get slobbered on the face, hands, and around the mouth whenever you pet, feed or enter the home. A dog licking you can be a sign of affection, but there are other interpretations as well. So, why do canines engage in this behavior, and how can you deal with it if it becomes a problem?
To what end does my dog’s excessive licking behavior serve?
The act of licking is one that dogs do automatically. It serves as a means of personal care, group interaction, and self-expression for them. A dog may lick you for several reasons, including affection, attention, stress relief, empathy, or just because they like the flavor. If your dog licks excessively, it may be an indication that he or she is experiencing stress, discomfort, or pain. Talk to your vet or a dog behaviorist if you’re having problems with your pup.
Licking is a natural behavior for dogs
For a dog, licking is a vital component of life. They do this as a kind of self-care, expressiveness, and language. Puppy mothers lick their offspring to help keep them clean, soothe them, and urge them to use the bathroom. Puppies will clean themselves and their family members by grooming them; this behavior serves several purposes, including keeping everyone healthy and happy.
The dog-licking mystery
What is the first thing you do when greeting a dog? They’ve probably been stroked by you. For us, touching their fur is an instinctive part of grooming. Because they use their tongues to clean themselves, dogs lick one other as a form of greeting, bonding, and displaying love. We use our hands to discover the world, while dogs use their jaws and tongues to get a feel for their surroundings and the emotions of those around them. Whether it’s a friendly lick to gauge your mood, a game of catch with a ball or toy, or a scavenger hunt with objects carried between the teeth.
They’re cuddling up to one another
Licking is a common form of canine affection. This is a learned behavior tied to the soothing effect of their mother tongue on them as infants. They connect with one another by licking, which triggers the production of feel-good chemicals like dopamine and endorphins. Dogs presumably like licking their loved ones as much as we enjoy petting them.
By doing so, they are demonstrating empathy
Licking is calming for dogs. It’s possible that if your dog is worried about you, they could lick you in an attempt to make you feel better. Dogs were more inclined to lick and nuzzle their owners when they were acting sad, according to a 2012 study, compared to when their owners were humming or conversing. It’s conceivable the dogs were just demonstrating a learned behavior, but many of us hold the belief that dogs can, at least to some degree, feel and comprehend what people do.
Aiming to Catch Someone’s Eye
Getting your attention by licking is a smart strategy. As a result of your dog licking you, you most likely massage them, speak sweetly to them, pet them, or make a big deal over them. Because of this, they will lick you more often.
The flavor of us is excellent.
Do you find that your dog kisses you more often after working out? In particular, on places that have been exposed and have been rather sweaty? Our canines may like the salt and acidic substances we expel when we sweat. Your dog may also lick your face and hands if it detects the faint scent of food or a pleasant hydrating lotion on you. Never allow your dog lick you after using a prescription or lotion that is toxic to dogs, such as a psoriasis cream.
What is the dog taste like?
It’s common knowledge that dogs have an acute sense of smell, but how do their taste buds stack up against ours? Surprisingly, humans have five times as many taste buds as a dog, giving the impression that we have a more developed sense of taste. Dogs have the human ability to sense sweet, sour, salty, and bitter, but they lack the ability to experience umami, a savory flavor. Dogs lack the ability to sense umami, however, they do have the ability to taste water, but humans cannot. Dogs lack taste buds, but their extraordinary sense of smell likely makes up for this. Our sense of smell accounts for about 80% of what we taste when we eat.
The hunger has set in
Wild canine pups demonstrating hunger by licking mom’s lips after a successful hunt are not uncommon. Your dog may lick you to signal that it is hungry since this behavior is ingrained in its nature.
When does licking become an issue?
Licking is a form of communication for dogs and an integral element of the canine experience. Some dogs naturally lick more than others, but if your dog begins to lick you excessively out of the blue, it may be an indication that something is wrong. Anxious dogs, particularly those suffering from allergies, injuries, or arthritis, may lick more often than healthy dogs. Always consult your doctor or a behaviorist if you have any concerns about your dog’s health or behavior.
Afraid of something
Licking is a calming behavior for dogs that may make them feel more at ease and peaceful. They may get relief from their uncomfortable feelings by licking you or themselves, especially if they suffer from separation anxiety.
Occupied with unusual rituals or behaviors, some dogs might acquire an extremely uncommon form of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This manifests itself in licking oneself, objects, or other people repeatedly, and may be related to chronic stress or worry. This might cause problems like bald spots or ulcers on their tongues. If you suspect your dog is experiencing this, interrupting him with an offer to do something else, such as go for a walk, play in the garden, or participate in training, may help him cease the behavior. Always respond kindly to the behavior. It may be tough to stop your dog, so always talk to your doctor or a behaviorist if you’re worried about your dog’s health or behavior.
How can I stop my dog from licking the furniture?
Keep in mind that licking is a normal and helpful technique for dogs to express their emotions. Like expecting you to never touch your dog again, expecting your dog to cease licking you altogether is unrealistic. But not every dog is the same, and some may seldom lick at best. The best way to assist your licking dog stop is to figure out why he or she is doing it in the first place. Below are some tips to assist you to deal with your dog’s excessive licking:
- Move away – Instead of giving either positive or negative attention, try moving the part of your body that’s being licked away from your dog. Don’t say anything or make eye contact, but remain neutral. If this doesn’t work, try moving away from your dog, or leaving the room entirely. Over time this should give them the message that it’s not something you enjoy
- Distract them – Try giving them something else to do that stops them from licking, such as a chew toy or a food puzzle
- Training – Try training them to sit, or teach them to do something that redirects their licking and is rewarded by your affection and attention, such as giving you their paw or rolling over
- Exercise – Keep your dog stimulated and give them plenty of exercises to help reduce any stress or burn up any excess energy that might be directed towards licking you
- Stay clean – If the licking is a particular problem after you’ve been exercising, take a shower
- Positive attention – Give your dog lots of praise and attention when they’re doing what you want them to, rather than giving them negative attention when they’re not
- Be consistent – Make sure you’re consistent. If you give your dog mixed messages then it will be confusing to them. Be consistent and clear about what you want them to do and what you don’t
Talk to your doctor or a behaviorist if your dog has started licking you excessively, particularly if this is a new behavior, or if it becomes a problem or makes you feel uncomfortable.
If my dog wants to lick my face, is it okay?
Your dog’s mouth is full of natural germs, and their saliva may include parasites, so it’s up to you to decide whether or not to let them lick your face. However, you have seen your dog licking or eating items you wouldn’t typically, which raises the question, what are they putting in their mouths that you haven’t seen? Make careful to wash your face thoroughly with soap and water after letting your dog lick your face to reduce the risk of catching anything unpleasant.
Upon waking up, why does my dog kiss me so much?
After a good night’s rest, your dog may welcome you with some slobbery kisses in the morning. Maybe they’ve been chasing rabbits in their dreams and are relieved to see you, or maybe they like the way we taste when we’re sweaty and oily from the night before.
I can’t understand why I’m the only one my dog licks more than anybody else.
Your dog’s devotion to you may be gauged by how often he or she licks your face. You are their closest buddy and the provider of all delicious treats; you smooth their fur gently and tickle them behind the ears. Another, the more serious possibility is that you have the finest taste. Just take it as a compliment, one way or the other!
When I pet my dog, why do they lick my hand?
Dogs see gestures of affection as expressions of their owners’ affection and concern for them. They are just showing you that they share your feelings by licking you back.
My dog licks me after I eat, but why?
It has been estimated that a dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times more acute than that of a human. You may be the most careful eater in the world, yet even the most meticulous among us will still end up with bits of food stuck to our faces, mouths, and fingers long after the meal is over. Most dogs can still smell food, and anything you’ve eaten will still smell good to them.
What causes my dog’s excessive self-licking?
Talk to your vet if your dog has begun licking itself excessively out of the blue. Anxiety, tension, pain, nausea, discomfort, or itching may all manifest themselves in compulsive licking. Dogs find licking comforting, and it may aid in recovery. In extreme cases, a dog’s skin might be damaged by excessive licking. Dogs with anal sac problems, for example, may lick at their front legs or on their back since that’s as near as it can go to the source of irritation without discomfort.