Read time: 6 mins
27 Mar 2023
For the most part, it's very cute when your dog licks you. Sometimes it's the little dose of affection that we all need.
However, it can sometimes reach a point of being extreme and becoming a little unpleasant.
As much as we wish that dogs could answer these sorts of questions, we are left to try and decide for ourselves why exactly dogs do what they do.
Whilst it’s nice to think that they are just giving us lots of affectionate kisses, there can actually be numerous reasons behind why your dog keeps licking you.
Dogs are extremely sensory creatures. With this in mind, it is hardly surprising that dogs often lick faces, hands, ears and legs.
Our body is bursting with scent information due to the salts and oils we naturally secrete and this is where a dog's natural curiosity takes over.
There are lots of different reasons to explain why your dog licks you. Thankfully, most of these are positive and quite frankly just too precious for words.
However, if you’re concerned that your dog’s licking may be problematic, do not hesitate to contact your vet or a behavioural specialist.
Licking is one way for dogs to communicate with their humans. When dogs lick their owners, it could mean different things, depending on the context and the type of licking behaviour. It is definitely not one lick fits all.
Rapid and frequent licking could be a sign of stress or anxiety, while cool, calm and collected licking could just be a sign that they are happy being in your company.
Pooches are known for their unconditional love and affection towards their pet parents. We truly don’t deserve them.
When dogs lick their humans, they could be showcasing their love and bond with them. Licking releases endorphins that create a sense of pleasure and comfort for both the dog and the human.
This behaviour is often seen in puppies as they learn to bond with their humans and can continue into adulthood. In some cases, dogs may also lick to show gratitude or appreciation, such as after being petted or praised.
When dogs lick humans, it could be a sign that they see their human as part of their pack and want to groom them as they would a fellow dog. Although it's not always pleasant to be licked, it's a sign of affection and trust from your furry friend. Who needs a tangle teezer?
Dogs may also lick their humans as a way to get essential nutrients or minerals that they may be lacking in their diet. For example, some dogs may lick their owners' faces or hands to get salt or other minerals that they need.
This behaviour is more common in dogs that are fed low-quality or unbalanced diets. If your dog is licking excessively, it's important to ensure that they are getting proper nutrition and are not deficient in any essential nutrients.
Dogs are creatures of habit and can develop repetitive behaviours, such as licking. In some cases, dogs may lick as a learned behaviour or as a way to get attention. This behaviour can be reinforced through positive reinforcement, such as treats or praise.
If your dog is licking excessively or inappropriately, it's essential to train them to stop the behaviour through positive reinforcement or other training techniques.
While licking is a natural behaviour for dogs, excessive or compulsive licking can be a problem. Here are some tips on how to manage excessive licking behaviour in dogs:
As mentioned earlier, excessive licking can be a sign of an underlying medical issue or behavioural problem. Identifying the root cause of the behaviour is essential to address it properly.
Dogs that are bored or not getting enough exercise may resort to excessive licking as a way to relieve their energy. Providing your dog with plenty of physical and mental stimulation can help reduce the behaviour.
Dogs may lick as a way to seek attention or affection from their humans. Establishing clear boundaries and training your dog to respect them can help reduce excessive licking behaviour.
As mentioned earlier, dogs may lick as a way to get essential nutrients or minerals that they may be lacking in their diet. Providing your dog with a balanced and nutritious diet can help reduce the behaviour.
Providing your dog with alternative behaviours or activities to engage in can help reduce excessive licking behaviour. For example, providing your dog with chew toys or puzzle toys can help redirect their energy and reduce the behaviour.
Have you ever been woken up in the middle of the night to the strange noise of your dog excessively licking their paws? It is a unique sound that only pup parents can relate to. Apart from keeping us awake all night, there are other reasons that could explain their behaviour.
We can’t blame our pooches for wanting to look their best, and when running a bath isn’t an option, licking themselves clean (including their paws) is the next best thing. Licking is a natural, conditioned part of a dog's grooming habits. Dogs lick themselves and other dogs to keep their fur clean and free from debris.
Although licking is a natural behaviour for dogs, excessive or compulsive licking can be a sign of an underlying medical issue. For example, dogs may lick due to allergies, skin infections, or other health problems. In some cases, dogs may lick due to pain or discomfort, such as arthritis or dental issues.
If you notice that your dog is licking excessively or has developed a sudden onset of this behaviour, it's essential to have them examined by a vet. Your vet can rule out any underlying health issues and provide appropriate treatment if necessary.
Dogs can also lick as a way to self-soothe and relieve stress. When a dog is feeling anxious or stressed, they may lick themselves or their humans as a way to calm down. Licking can release endorphins that help dogs feel better and reduce their stress levels.
However, it's important to note that excessive licking can be a sign of an underlying health issue or behavioural problem. If your dog is licking excessively or compulsively, it's best to consult with a veterinarian or a professional dog trainer.