Does your dog lick you regularly? This natural and cute behavior is a delight for children and adults alike. However, over time, licking can become invasive and even hide a behavioral disorder. Why does my dog lick me? What should I do? When should I consult a veterinarian? Explanations on the meanings of licking in dogs and the solutions to put in place.
Why does my dog lick me?
The dog’s tongue is a wonderful organ with multiple functions: discovering its environment, canine communication, cleaning its coat, thermoregulation… This versatility can then translate into several behaviors that explain why your dog licks you. Knowing and understanding them helps keep your dog healthy.
As a sign of affection
Most of the time, licking a dog means he loves you. It’s his way of expressing his affection for you, an act he learned as a child. As a puppy, your four-legged friend was subject to licking by his mother, who cleaned him up and gave him signals of affection. When he licks your hand, your dog is giving you a kiss, a gentle pat or even a big hug!
Because my skin tastes good
Certain aromas attract dogs, especially the one of your skin which tastes good! Has your dog ever licked your feet and toes with passion after your jog? It’s simply because he loves the salty scent of your sweat. Is he licking your legs? You may have just applied a moisturizing cream, a sinful habit that appeals to many animals. Sweat, cream, cheese smell… so many olfactory treasures with a thousand flavors that we wear on our body and that do not escape the dog’s nose.
To demand attention
Just like when he was a puppy trying to get his mother’s attention, your dog will repeat this gesture when he licks you, especially on the face. He’s trying to get attention with his tongue. It’s a way of telling you, “Look at me, I’m here! ”. Maybe he wants to play with you or is waiting for you to fill his bowl with fresh water?
Because he’s hungry
When your pet was born, he was fed by his mother. When your pet was hungry, he would warn her by licking her muzzle. With you, it’s the same principle: he’s asking for food. Thus, licking can sometimes express a need or a desire for food.
To ease tensions
Like all animals, dogs are sensitive to their environment. He perceives negative emotions and conflict situations. Feeling sad, angry or anxious? By licking you, your dog is simply trying to comfort you. And if it happens that he licks you while you are scolding him, it is a sign of appeasement to calm the conflict.
Because he is stressed
Just as dogs seek to soothe their owners when they are overwhelmed by strong emotions, they also lick to soothe themselves when they are worried. The body odor you give off reassures him. But be careful, an untimely licking can hide a state of stress, even anxiety. Be vigilant and observe his behavior to detect the possible presence of other symptoms of a stressed dog.
Because he is bored
Yes, it happens that your adorable fur ball licks you out of boredom. The domestic dog is a sociable animal that can suffer from loneliness. Licking can be a cry for help, an attempt to get your attention. If your dog is moping around too much, he or she may develop real discomfort and health problems.
Should I let my dog lick me?
Licking is a natural part of being a dog. If you love to cuddle him and he seems to be in good shape, there is no reason to prevent your dog from licking you.
How do I get my dog to stop licking me?
Now that you have the answer to the question, “Why is my dog licking me?” you may be wondering how to stop it. If this behavior is annoying you, there are a few things you can do to minimize it.
Diverting his attention
Use positive training methods to divert your dog’s attention when he tries to lick you:
- By presenting him with a toy;
- With a treat to motivate him with a reward;
- By doing a small training exercise;
- By going for a walk so that he spends his excess energy, especially if he looks bored;
This will encourage your dog to change his behavior gradually.
An effective alternative is to completely ignore your dog. Is he about to lick your face, hands or legs? Adopt a disinterested attitude and turn a deaf ear. Don’t worry about your dog: no touching, no looking in his direction. The key is not to snap. You must remain consistent and use this method consistently.
When should I consult a veterinarian?
Again, remember that it is in your pet’s nature to lick. It’s a way to communicate and express yourself.
Beware, however, of over-licking. Do you feel like your dog is licking you too frequently, or even all the time? Does your dog have other behavioral problems such as excessive licking of a body part?
It may be time to see a veterinarian to make sure your little friend is feeling good about himself. Only a professional will be able to diagnose a possible malaise or an underlying disease.