Why does my dog lick me?
Why does my dog lick me is another common dog question. There are a few reasons why your dog exhibits this behaviour, which we’ll share below!
Dogs love to lick things! My two pugs will lick the floor, lick my feet, and even lick the window. My younger pug is so mad about licking that she attacks me by licking my face whenever she can reach it. Licked to death by a pug!
Why do dogs lick?
There are many different reasons for dogs licking people and objects, including:
To show affection
Many of the licks from your dog are to say “hey I like you and you are one of my pack”. That’s because dogs often lick the other members of their pack to clean them and to show them love.
Dogs like to show affection in this way because it also feels good to them. Your dog will receive a burst of endorphins every time they lick a friendly dog or human being. Endorphins are “feel good” chemicals that are released by the brain. They help to calm your dog down and gives them a little positive feeling. It is a similar feeling to the one you get when giving or receiving a kiss.
To seek attention
What usually happens after your dog licks you? You usually look at them and say hello. As a result, your dog will learn that licks are a great way to gain your attention. They will give you licks until you give them a pat or scratch on the belly. Don’t be fooled by their cute appearance — dogs have devised all kinds of clever ways to get your attention!
To discover new flavours
Dogs are inquisitive and highly-intelligent creatures that enjoy exploring the world around them. Their instinct to explore the world is also driven by the fact that they are natural hunters. Your dog will want to understand the environment around them and they will use all of their senses to do so — smelling, looking, listening, and licking!
Dog sometimes lick to show submission
Some dogs will lick to show as a submissive gesture. Your dog will lick you as a way of saying, you have their respect and they will obey your commands. This kind of lick might occur during a training session or when they are showing you how well behaved they are — usually to get a treat!
They think you enjoy it
Most dog owners will react strongly when licked by their dog, particularly if its a face lick. When my youngest pug licks me in the face, my reaction is usually a laugh or a smile. If she manages to get me on the lips its a reaction of “Yuck!”.
Because dogs are very good at gauging your reactions, they will learn if licking elicits a positive response from you. If you smile after a lick, your puppy will think “my human loves this, I might do it more!” So, expect more licks from your dog if you smile or laugh when getting licked to death.
To build a closer bond with you
Dogs develop a keen sense of what their owner smells and sounds like. They will also lick you to understand what you taste like. It helps them tell you apart from other humans and strengthens their bond with you.
To communicate with you
Dogs don’t have many options when it comes to communicating with their owners. They can wag their tail, bark, whimpering, dance around, and lick. A lick can mean anything from “thanks” to “welcome home” to a dog. My pugs will often quick me a tiny lick when I come home from the shops, which I assume means “glad to have you back home human”.
They like the taste of salt
Some dogs will lick you because they love the taste of salt on your skin.
Why do they lick themselves?
The most common reasons for a dog to lick themselves are for self-grooming or because they are bored. Dogs will also lick a site of an injury like a cut, sore nail, or foreign object under the skin.
Another reason for a dog licking itself could be allergies to something in their environment. One of my pugs experienced an allergic reaction a few months ago and began frequently licking her paws. I had a look around the garden and discovered a weedy ground cover with blue flowers on it. I thought she might have had a reaction to it, so I ripped it out. A few days later, her licking ceased.
There are actually quite a few plants that can trigger an allergic reaction in dogs. If your dog is constantly licking themselves, it might be worth checking out what is in the ground in your garden.
If your dog is suffering from itchy paws, there are products you can buy to relieve their discomfort, like Omega Paw Solutions Paw Licking Remedies for Dogs. I haven’t tried this one myself, but the reviews look good.
If your dog is constantly licking themselves of other people, it may be a sign of a psychological issue. That’s because anxious dogs can really get carried away with licking. Talk to your vet if you suspect your dog has anxiety issues.
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