Why Do Dogs Lick You?

Is there anything better than coming home to a kiss from a delighted puppy? A lot of dog proprietors translate licks from their pet dogs as an indicator of affection. Simply put, their licking is the closest thing that your canine companion can get to kissing you. However is this accurate? And what can you do if your dog’s licking is out of control?

Is Licking a Dog’s Method of Kissing?

The court is out on what a dog’s licking actually means. Believe it or not, what you take to be love, is a matter of fact, your dog encouraging you to vomit your lunch for them.

“Scientists of wild canids– wolves, coyotes, foxes, as well as other wild pet dogs– report that young puppies lick the face as well as muzzle of their mommy when she returns from a search to her den– in order to get her to spit up for them,” notes Alexandra Horowitz, head of the Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College and also author of the book Inside Of A Canine: What Dogs See, Odor, and Know.

Alternatively, your dog may just think that you taste great. Certified animal behaviorist Dr. Mary Burch points out that people have slightly salty skin, specifically after sweating during exercise. As a result, those licks may solely be an attempt to seek and attain salt rather than offering love. Horowitz includes that if your pet dog likes to lick your face, it will commonly occur after you have actually finished a tasty meal. Or, well, any dish.

Some dogs appear to lick people more often than other dogs. Does this behavior mean something? Why do pet dogs lick? Is it ever trouble? The solutions depend on you and your pet.

Why Do Dogs Lick You?

While we don’t know for certain why pet dogs lick, the majority of professionals concur that there is possibly a mix of reasons. Licking is ruled out as a severe behavior issue unless it bothers you. There can be many factors for your dog’s licking you.  The reasons may surprise or even change your thinking as to why your dog licks you.

Affection: There is a good chance that your pet dog is licking you because it loves you. That’s why lots of people call them “kisses.” Dogs reveal love by licking people as do various other house pets. Licking is a natural activity for canines. They first learn this behavior from the grooming as well as the love given to them as puppies by their mother. Dogs might lick your face if they can reach it. If not, they may simply lick you on any available patch of skin, such as your hands, arms, legs, and feet. Some canines tend to lick less than others. However, this does not necessarily indicate that a canine is much less affectionate if it does not have a tendency to lick. It may have learned behaviors differently as a pup or simply not favor licking.

Attention-Seeking: Licking actions that start as love typically obtain reinforcement by a person’s response such as laughing, grinning, petting, etc. Maybe your pet dog is tired or lonely. 

Your dog may simply just want to be seen by you. Even negative attention can motivate licking. When a canine is seeking your attention, it will certainly feel compensated by any sort of interest, even the unfavorable kind. Pressing your dog away, saying “no,” or even punishing it, still implies you’re not ignoring it. This can urge licking.

Impulse: When wolves, as well as in some cases dogs in the wild, return to their dogs after a meal, they regurgitate meat from the hunt. The pups, too young to hunt for themselves, will lick the meat from around the mother’s mouth. It is believed by some that this licking habit has actually been given in the DNA, causing pets to naturally do it occasionally.

Taste: When that canine gets to licking you, it may recognize you have an appealing human taste that is a bit salty. Dogs like anything that has an interesting taste. Additionally, licking is a means for your pet to explore his environment. You are a part of that world’s greatest tasting things.
Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior: Although it’s unusual, pets can deal with obsessive-compulsive problems, often prompted by long term anxiety, and also discomfort. Licking that happens frequently, and generally includes the licking of things, surface areas, as well as the self in addition to people, maybe a real problem. Talk to your veterinarian about your concerns regarding your pet. Your veterinarian may then refer you to an animal behaviorist for help. Your vet or a veterinary behaviorist might likewise suggest medicine to aid alleviate anxiety. Though you may assume drugs need to be a last resort, it is very important to recognize that animals can not be free while in a high state of stress and anxiety. Drugs might be used as a tool in conjunction with training. Drug therapy might even be used temporarily while your canine goes through training and therapy.

Is it Safe for Canines to Lick You?

It’s usually fairly harmless to allow your dog to lick you. Nevertheless, do not believe the old misconception that dogs’ mouths are cleaner than human beings’ mouths. They most certainly are not! Pets’ mouths consist of a lot of all-natural microorganisms, which is found only in pets.  This can mean our body is not suitable to handle such germs. However, these microorganisms probably won’t create damage unless it enters an open wound. There are no documented cases of health problems that started with a pet dog licking a human. Ultimately, you might simply think it’s gross, and that’s alright.

How to Get Your Pet Dog to Stop Licking You

You might believe canine kisses are revolting. Or, you just might just feel like you are not getting enough of them. Getting your dog to stop licking you, and also others, is normally attained by rejecting focus when the licking happens. Quit touching your canine or taking a look at it. Turn your head away. Get up and walk away if you need to. As quickly as the licking stops, reward it with focus, affection, or perhaps treats. In time, your pet dog will usually get the point that licking is an undesired behavior and the licking will stop.

But can a dog’s passionate licks also be a means or an indicator of affection? Here’s one method to consider. A pet dog’s actions can be encouraged with favorable support. So if a canine licks his proprietor’s face– either out of reaction, anxiousness, or just because his owner’s face tastes salty– and that activity is greeted with favorable focus, such as hugs and also human kisses, he’ll wish to duplicate the behavior. While it’s probably not a “kiss,” you can wager it’s a sign that your dog believes you’re pretty wonderful.

Exactly how do you get your pet to stop licking you?  Dr. Coates states, “If you desire your pet to stop licking you, do your finest to neglect the behavior; calmly get up and go into an additional area behind a closed door if you need to…” If your dog quits licking you, be certain to provide lots of praise as well as interest and attention for listening to ensure that they will not repeat the habits in the future.

“With time, the licking must fade away as your canine recognizes that it is not offering them any type or sort of incentive,” states Dr. Coates. “Talk with your veterinarian if you think your dog’s licking could be associated with a clinical trouble or behavioral condition.” 

If you want the occasional mild kiss from your pet dog, you can train your canine by connecting a word or phrase such as “kiss” or “gimme sugar” to the behavior. Award the mild kiss, on the cheek or chin, or perhaps just your hand, depending on your preference. Then refute focus if the licking gets out of hand. If you require help with this and various other training, consider hiring a pet instructor or purchase an online course.

When Is Licking an Issue?

A lot of licking is harmless and even welcome as a form of self-expression on the pet’s part. Dr. Burch keeps in mind that there’s no need to fret, and that it’s a type of supremacy– in fact, it’s fairly the contrary. But ultimately, why do dogs lick you?

“One theory is that the licking is a sign of respect,” she says. “The concept is that dogs that are submissive will certainly lick an extra dominant participant of the pack.”

However, there are some scenarios when you might wish to avoid a slobber fest from your puppy. The first is associated with human convenience, that is, some people just don’t like being licked. If you have a germaphobe pal that cringes each time your pet licks anything, it’s probably better, for your pet dog and close friend alike, to reroute the behavior.

Yet sometimes licking is a sign of a more serious trouble. If your pet is licking themselves, you, or objects excessively, to the point that it looks like a self-stimulatory habit, this might be an indication of stress and anxiety, monotony, or discomfort. Compulsive self-licking can likewise be a sign of allergies or other health issues.

Pack Participants Lick to Connect

As young puppies grow older, they lick to brush themselves as well as their pack mates. It likewise becomes a means of inviting others back into the pack and also strengthens the bonds that are formed between those in the pack.

Mature canines lick as a sign of deference or submissiveness to a dominant pack participant. The dog doing the licking usually lowers its body to make itself smaller and seeks out, contributing to the result of subordinate habits. The pet getting its face licked shows its dominance by standing tall to accept the motion, yet does not return the favor.

Interpreting Your Canine’s Lick

Now I hope you have the answer to the question “why do dogs lick you?” You may now have a much better idea as to what your dog is attempting to do through its act. He might be wanting you to know that he’s glad to see you. Or he may be hungry while also requesting for a treat. Undoubtedly, you will not spit up some food at that signal, yet you might offer him a reward.

Medical Reasons that Canine Lick

Extreme licking or licking that occurs more often than usual, could be an indication of an underlying medical problem. Indications of too much licking will typically look like those brought on by behavioral licking (hair loss, inflammation, etc.).

Potential medical reasons for licking include the following: 

  • Allergies: this may cause the skin or paws to itch
  • Infections: formed from germs, fungus or parasites, these infections can likewise create itchiness and therefore lead to excessive licking
  • Hidden pain: whether from an injury or joint inflammation, this hidden pain can create reason for pets to lick.  This is similar to when a person massages an aching muscular tissue or joint. 

The licking releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain medication, to assist soothe the discomfort. A final cause of licking can be from gastrointestinal issues. To soothe the concern a canine may lick unusual surfaces, but not normally itself.