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20 September 2021

Why do dogs lick you? 5 reasons | How to stop such behavior?

Have you ever wondered, why do dogs lick you? If you are looking for an answer to this question, you are at the right place. Keep reading all the way to the end to understand why do dogs lick people.


Why do dogs lick you?
 Why do dogs lick you? 


It has been commonly observed that most dogs like licking people. Dog guardians usually referred to this behavior as giving kisses. This is considered a sign of affection


However, some dogs have been observed to lick people more than others. So dog guardians and dog lovers have a few questions in mind which they would like to get answered like:

  • Why do dogs lick you? 
  • Why do dogs lick you in the face?
  • Why do dogs constantly lick you?
  • What does it mean when a dog licks you?


Let’s start answering each of these questions one by one


Why do dogs lick you?


Even though it is not known for sure why do dogs lick people, according to most dog behaviorists, there are a wide variety of reasons behind this behavior? If your dog licking you does not bother you, then it is not a behavioral problem. However, understanding the reason behind why do dogs lick you might deepen your bond of affection and trust with your pooch.


Attention seeking behavior


We all know that dogs are attention lovers. They start the licking behavior as a sign of affection towards the parents or guardians. However, this behavior gets reinforced by the guardian's reaction towards the licking like touching, smiling, petting the dog, laughing, etc. It could be that your dog is just feeling lonely and bored and want you to pay some attention to him or her. If you like this behavior, good for you and great for your dog.


On the contrary, if you are amongst those dog guardians who do not like their dogs licking them, then do not do the following. If you say no to your dog or push him or her away, your dog may take this as a sign of giving attention. This will encourage further licking from your dog.


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Affection


This is probably the most common reason why do dogs lick you as according to dog guardians. It is obvious that your dog loves you and wants to show it to you. This is why most of the time a dog licking a person is referred to as the dog kissing the person. Dogs show affection by licking other dogs as well as people. Licking is a natural behavior signifying affection amongst dogs.


Why do dogs lick you in the face?


Dogs learn this behavior during their puppy stages from the affection and grooming which is provided to them by their mothers. If your dog is able to lick your face, he or she will go for it. If your dog is not able to reach your face, they will settle for any available region of skin like feet, legs, hands, etc. 


Some dogs like to lick more. Some dogs like to lick less. However, licking is not an indication of how much your dog loves you. If your dog is not licking you, this does not mean that he or she does not love you or respect you. It could be that your dog may just not prefer to lick you but like to engage in other ways of expressing affection.


You taste good


Dogs love interesting tastes. This can even include human sweat. Once your dog starts to lick you, he or she may realize that you are sweating and the skin taste is intriguing to him or her. The salt present in our sweat makes the skin tasty to the dog. This could be the reason why do dogs lick you more when you are sweating. Furthermore, licking is a way for the dog to understand and explore the world around him or her. You make up a big part of your dog's world, therefore the licking.


Obsessive-compulsive behavior


Even though this is rarely seen in the case of dogs,  Some dogs suffer from obsessive-compulsive behavior as well. This is most often brought upon by stress and separation anxiety and dogs. If your dog is constantly licking surfaces, other objects, or humans, this might be a real issue that needs to be addressed.


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If you notice such behavior from your dog, have a discussion with your veterinarian about the same. Your vet might refer you to an animal behaviorist or a dog trainer. He or she may even prescribe medication for separation anxiety like CBD oil, calming treats, etc. You may have to work with the behaviorist to reduce your dog's separation anxiety. Medication should be used as a last resort. However, if needed do not hesitate to give your dog calming treats and CBD oil. Medication can act as supplements while your dog is undergoing training for counter conditioning and desensitization.


Related post: Is CBD oil a good option for dogs?


Dogs kiss you to show submission 


One of the lesser-known points about why do dogs lick you is to signify submission and recognition of the person as the alpha of the pack. As you must know, dogs are pack animals. They are descendants of wolves. Wolves commonly lick other wolves to indicate their submission. This could also be one of the reasons why dogs lick people to show that not only do I love you but I also recognize you as leader of my pack.


Is it safe for your dog to lick you?


This is probably the biggest question in the mind of every dog guardian. Is it safe if the dog licks a human? It is harmless if your dog licks you. The old myths say that dog mouths are cleaner than human mouths. It is not actually true. Dogs were originally scavengers. They were used to hunting in the wild, due to which their mouths contain a lot of bacteria that will not be found in humans. This is what makes the dog's mouth, as well as the dog bite, dangerous. 


However, if your dog is on a home-made diet, if you are taking proper oral care of your dog's oral cavity like regular teeth brushing, vet appointments, etc., your dog's mouth is not as dangerous as the mouths of the dogs who are not involved in oral care or are living on the streets. There are no documented cases of such dogs licking humans and the lick leading to disease. Therefore, according to me, there is nothing to worry about. 


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Personal opinion

I adopted Delta when he was a day old. Delta licks me all the time. You can even see his love and affection in this video on our YouTube channel. He is around three years old now. I regularly brush his teeth and maintain proper oral care.  Delta has never liked commercial dog food. Raw dog food does not suit his sensitive stomach. He also does not engage in licking other dogs. He has friends but a few sniffs are all he engages in. He is on home made diet and he does not lick floors, walls, or anything of the sort which would give him harmful bacteria. He licks me and his dad on a regular basis. However, we’ve never had any kind of infection. Therefore it is safe to say that if you are maintaining proper oral care of your dog, your dog's kiss is safe for you.


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Excessive licking


Excess of anything is bad, whether it is barking, howling, or licking. If your dog is excessively licking himself or any other dog repeatedly at a specific region, it could be a sign of distress. It may indicate that the pup (when licking themselves) is suffering from skin allergies or other skin-related issues.


 However, if another dog is licking your dog at a specific region repeatedly, it is a sign that the specific patch of skin must be checked out. That specific skin spot may be suffering from worm infestation, or any other type of skin infection and must be checked out by the vet as soon as possible.


Related post: How to stop excessive barking in dogs?


How to stop a dog from licking you?


Go to the vet


As I mentioned before, if your dog is licking himself or herself excessively, it is best that you get your dog checked by the veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical issues. If your dog is completely healthy, then you can start to work on the training to reduce the kissing habit if you do not like it.


Do not pay attention to your dog


A lot of people don’t like dog kisses. They feel that it is disgusting. Alternatively, you might be those dog guardians who prefer to have the kissing in a limited amount. If you want your dog to just stop liking you. Stop paying attention to him or her. When your dog licks you, stop touching your dog or looking at him or her. Move your head in the other direction. Get up from the place and walk away if that is what is needed. 


The moment your dog stops licking you, reward that behavior with affection, attention, and some high-quality treats. Over time, when this behavior is regularly rewarded, your dog will learn that licking is an undesired behavior and does not get him or her what he or she wants.


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Redirect your pup


This is another method to stop your dog from licking you too much. When you want to stop your dog from licking you, redirect his or her attention towards an interactive toy puzzle with a treat-dispensing function. You can also redirect the attention of your dog towards trick training or playing fetch or any other kind of game. 


Related post: 5 easiest homemade dog toys for aggressive chewers


Training your dog to kiss on command


If you want kisses from your dog on an occasional basis, you can train your dog to do so. You can use a command like kiss or give kisses, when your dog gives you kisses, reward the behavior with a treat. If your dog kisses you too much, move away. Eventually, your dog will learn how much licking or kissing is desirable and will work on that.


Conclusion


Now that you have all the answers to why do dogs lick you? Why do dogs lick you in the face? What does it mean when a dog licks you? Mention your thoughts on the same in the comment section. Does your dog lick or kiss you? Do you like that behavior? What is the frequency of your dog kissing you?


A dog licking behavior comes naturally to him or her. They lick when they are happy to show you how much they love and respect you. Dogs have also been observed to lick humans as a way to say thank you. 


If you have any queries pertaining to this blog post or any other, feel free to mention them in the comment section. Alternatively, you can reach out to me on any of my social media channels. I will be happy to help. 


See you in my next blog post

Shruti

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