Do you ever wonder, “Why does my dog lick me?” Well, it turns out, most of the time, our furry canine friends lick us to show affection, communicate, or groom, especially with people they are closely bonded to. For dogs, licking is a natural and intuitive behavior and a meaningful way to express themselves and interact with their humans.
But what if this licking behavior becomes excessive or obsessive, and you are left with slobbery kisses on your hands, face, ears, feet, or legs? In such a situation, paying attention to your dog’s licking behavior and understanding its underlying reasons is essential.
Why Do Dogs Lick You?
Let’s have a look at the few possible reasons why dogs lick their owners:
Dogs commonly show love, bond, and affection to their owner or family members through licking, which they would have learned from the grooming and affection their mothers gave them as puppies.
Licking, an instinctive behavior, causes the furry canines to release dopamine and endorphins that help them feel relaxed, calm, and happy. It is the same feel-good hormone oxytocin that we release when we stroke a dog.
Another reason your dog may be licking you is to get your attention, as they may be bored, lonely, or neglected. Sometimes, they may jump up and lick you if they feel neglected and think you are giving too much attention to another family member (human or animal).
For instance, when you laugh, smile, or pet and act like you are enjoying your furry companion’s kisses, there are excellent chances that your dog will continue to lick you.
Dogs have a far superior sense of smell. If they smell dirt or something on their owners, they lick them to help remove dirt or debris from their skin or clothes. Dogs’ tongues contain some antibacterial properties, so you may notice them licking their fur or paws to remove dirt and debris after spending time outside.
In some cases, dogs may lick you to signal that they are hungry and want food. Check if their bowl has food and water. You may notice this behavior in puppies still trying to learn how to regulate their food intake.
Sometimes, your dog may lick you to see how you taste, as their mouth is one of the main ways to explore and know their surroundings. They will keep coming back if they find something that has an exciting taste. For instance, it could be the scented lotions and creams on your body or the taste of your salty skin after a workout that may appeal to them.
Excessive licking is one of the signs that your dog is anxious or stressed. The act of licking calms them down when they are experiencing environmental stresses such as separation anxiety, a house full of visitors, or loud noise.
Excessive licking can sometimes be a sign of pain, discomfort, or an underlying health issue, such as allergies or a skin condition. Also, if they are licking everything, like couches, rugs, or floors, your pooch may have gastrointestinal issues.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Is Licking Excessively?
Suppose your dog is licking you excessively or an object or themselves. In that case, especially if it’s a specific place repeatedly, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues. If your veterinarian gives the green light, then you may consult a certified dog professional and seek their expertise to take a look at your companion’s behavior.
It’s important to note that licking is a dog’s instinctive behavior, and if your dog is licking within normal limits, there is nothing to worry about. However, when the licking gets excessive, it is recommended to take the advice of a veterinarian or a professional dog trainer.