Have you ever been surprised by your dog with a slobbery kiss on your face? Our friendly companions tend to do this usually when they see us after a long day. But do you ever wonder: why do dogs lick you? This behavior is so typical for dogs that we now consider this as their way of kissing us.
As it turns out, there are several reasons as to why do dogs lick you. Whether beneficial or not, should we be worried if it goes out of hand? Let’s take a look.
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Why Do Dogs Lick You?
1. They want you to feed them.
Since dogs don’t have multiple means to communicate that they are hungry, they might let you know by licking you. In the book Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know, Alexandra Horowitz mentioned that puppies of wild dogs tend to lick their mother’s face after a hunt. They do this to ask their moms to regurgitate the food for them.
There is a high probability that our domestic buddies adopted this behavior. So when they lick you, it’s time to fill their bowls with the food they deserve!
2. They want to show affection.
Another reason why do dogs lick you is that sometimes, a lick is a way for our friendly companions to show that they love us. Their appreciation for us might be too much to handle sometimes that they need to resort to giving slobbery kisses.
Some wild dogs usually greet their pack this way as a way of welcoming them back. In the same way, our dogs lick us when we finally come home to them after being outside for a long time. It’s a sign that your dog missed you and is happy that you can spend time with them now.
Also, when our dogs kiss us, we usually reward their behavior. We may unwittingly give them positive reinforcement through hugs, treats, and belly rubs. So, they may think that when they show us affection, we will do something in return.
Meanwhile, experts from the Animal Kennel Club think that our domestic buddies adopted this behavior from their mothers. They must have learned it when they were still puppies; their mother “kissed” them to groom them.
However, there are many ways for a dog to show us their affection for us. If your dog doesn’t lick you, it may just be that they didn’t get used to it growing up. One thing is certain: your dogs think you’re great regardless of how they express it. Keep this in mind when wondering why do dogs lick you.
3. They like your taste.
You may find yourself having a hard time doing your exercise routines around dogs. Aside from them taking up the space you need, they will repeatedly lick you in between sets. One reason behind why do dogs lick you is because our dogs think that we taste good. They must find our slightly salty taste, which comes from our sweat, great. But don’t worry! No matter how good you taste, your dog won’t purposely eat you.
Our friendly companions have heightened senses. They are curious about anything that has a compelling taste or smell. That’s why they might steal your underwear or socks. Your clothes give them comfort. You don’t have to worry if your smell or taste will put off your dog. They will be intrigued for sure.
4. They want to know you more.
There’s no better feeling in this world than having someone interested in knowing more about you. Lucky for you, you have a dog who loves you! Licking can be your dog’s way to gain more information about you. They might want to find out where you’ve been, what you had for lunch, or if you pet other dogs on your way home.
Consider your taste to be a piece of evidence about you and your day. This curiosity means that your dog loves you and is interested in how your day went. They’ll do what it takes to know you more. You’re their world, after all.
5. They might have early signs of obsessive-compulsive behavior.
When you find your dog excessively licking you, this could be an indicator of a severe problem. Licking may be their way to alleviate their boredom, anxiety, or stress. However, when done frequently, you might need to check the root cause of why do dogs lick you. Try to find a professional who can help you resolve your dog’s discomfort.
Is a Dog’s Lick Safe?
A dog’s lick is relatively harmless since it won’t go through your skin. Aside from being grossed out, there’s no need to worry about why do dogs lick you. However, it doesn’t mean that a dog’s saliva is cleaner than a human’s.
You still need to be careful about letting your dog lick an open wound. In addition to rabies, their saliva contains a lot of bacteria. For that reason alone, a dog’s bite can be fatal.
How Can You Minimize Your Dog’s Licking Habit?
You might want to control or ultimately stop your dog’s licking if it goes out of hand. Whatever your reason, there are ways for you to achieve what you want.
First, you must stop reinforcing their tendency to kiss you. Don’t give your dog attention when they are licking you. You must restrain yourself from rewarding your pet when they do that. Walk away if you need to.
Next, reward them after they have stopped licking you. Eventually, your dog will understand that licking will not be welcomed.
If none of those tips work, you can try a training program. Seek the help of professional dog trainers instead. They can help you minimize or stop this undesired behavior.
No matter the reason why do dogs lick you, know that they are doing this because they love you. So, do what you can to show them you love them and seek help if necessary.
A fitness junkie and a cosmopolitan traveler, Kathy is the mom of peppy baby Malaya and mixed beagle Holly. She’s a capable businesswoman who balances work with living a wanderlust life with her hooman and fur babies.