Let’s be real; there’s nothing as gratifying as receiving hugs and licks from your dogs. From a pet owner’s perspective, licking is a form of affection given by dogs. It shows that they feel safe around you and are willing to get close. However, what happens when it starts to get out of control? You begin to ask, “why does my dog lick me?”. Is it actually a form of affection or something to be aware of?
Worry not. Here’s a comprehensive guide in understanding the reasons behind your dog’s tendency to lick and what it implies.
Are Lickings Dog’s Kisses?
“Why does my dog lick me?”, “is dog’s saliva safe on skin?”, “how do I stop them from licking me?”. Whether it’s your first time adopting a dog or not, these are some of the most common questions regarding your furry companion and their licking habit.
Dogs have lived for a very long time. Back then, a mother licks her puppy to clean their body and stimulate urination. In contrast, puppies lick their mother’s face as a sign for her to regurgitate food for them. Once they become older, puppies lick each other as a manner of welcome and bonds.
Knowing this fact, there’s a big chance that your dog licking you is a sign of positive behavior. Either your canine’s licking you because they want to express love or simply because you taste nice, you can always interpret it as a “kissy” affection from them.
Reasons Why Your Dogs Keep Licking You
Occasional and affectionate licking is always acceptable, but what happens when it becomes overwhelming? You’ll start to ponder, “why does my dog lick me all the time?”–here’s an insight on why.
Behavioral reasons are way more common than the medical ones, and it is relatively unharmful. When dogs lick due to a behavioral reason, you can leave the worries of an underlying disease or dangerous symptoms.
Generally, your dogs lick you because they want to express affection. However, some also do it because they feel bored and want to gain your attention. There are dogs who love to lick their owner because humans’ skin is salty, which is pleasant in the dog’s tongue. While the rest simply do it because it feels soothing and has become a habit.
Furthermore, a dog’s tongue performs similarly as humans’ hand does. When your dog is unsure about something, it could be because they’re trying to figure out who or what it is.
Unfortunately, there are more than innocuous reasons behind your dog’s lickings. Excessive lickings can sign, or even lead to either major or minor problems that will need immediate assistance.
Medical underlying ranges from an allergy, infection to invisible pain. Allergies stem from the food they consume, from their environments such as dust and pollen, or from flea bites. Flea bites sometimes can lead to infections, but not limited to other substances such as yeast, bacteria, or fungus. Additionally, if your dog has arthritis or past injuries, the invisible pain will drive them to lick in order to release endorphins.
When Does Licking Become a Problem?
According to the American Kennel Club, while dog licks and saliva aren’t necessarily dangerous for humans, you still need to pay attention to the reasons behind it. Everything that is excessive is not good for both you and your dogs, including love gestures such as licking.
It is important to note that the dog’s licks are not for everyone. For people with germaphobic or those who don’t like dogs, the gestures will come off as rude. Pay attention to your guests, and don’t let your dogs latch to everyone without their consent.
Note that excessive licking can also indicate an underlying disease, whether it’s a behavioral or a medical one. Consult with your veterinarian and let them find the best medication or treatment for your pooch.
How to Make Your Dog Stop Licking You
Now that you know the reason why your dog keeps licking you, the next question is how to make it stop. As aforementioned, not everyone loves feeling sticky and wet due to dogs’ saliva. Furthermore, it’s also your responsibility as the owner to teach them the right way to behave in front of you and others.
While talking to your veterinarian is a recommended solution, you can also try these methods to reduce their licking habit.
Trick training is one of the most effective ways to stop your dog from licking. The American Kennel Club recommends you start by simple orders such as sit and reward them with a treat if they follow it. Afterward, feel free to combine and experiment with other tricks such as giving you a hug, fetching a ball, or kissing your hand.
Keeping Them Occupied
If your dog starts to get licky, it’s time to distract them. Ask them to join you for a walk or play outside. These activities will demand their full attention, thus lowering the impulse to start licking. However, make sure to take things slow and do not reprimand or scold them when the habit slips in the middle of an activity.
Changing Your Body Scent
Dogs are not only attracted to taste, but also smell. There’s a chance that your dog loves to lick you because they love your smell. To deter them, try changing your body scent using perfume or body mist and see what happens.
Ways to Make Your Dog Knows You Love Them
Now that your dog has a limited chance to lick you, you’ll need to go extra miles to prove to them that you love them still. Sure, you’re a little bit troubled by their saliva, but you can always make it up by adding more playtime, giving them their favorite snacks, snuggling on the sofa, or rub their ears when it’s raining cats and dogs outside. These gestures seem simple to you, but you won’t know how meaningful it is to them!
All in all, the most probable answer to “why does my dog lick me?’ is because they love you and want to express it. However, once things go south and the licking becomes excessive, consider bringing them to the vet for further assistance. Additionally, you can train them to reduce their licking habit through trick training, distracting them, or changing your body scent. Since licking is a dog’s way to show affection, don’t forget to make it up by giving your utmost dog affection!