- Many dog owners see dogs’ kissing or licking as an expression of affection.
- Obsessive licking could be a symptom of deeper problems, such as anxiety, boredom, or fear.
- Trick training is a powerful tool for rerouting problematic licks in a constructive direction.
What could be better than getting a puppy’s kiss when you go home? The majority of dog owners view licks from their pets as expressions of love. The closest thing your dog can come to kissing, in other words. But is that true? What can you do if your dog is excessively licking things?
Is Licking a Dog’s Way Of Kissing?
What a dog licking actually means is up for debate. Unbelievably, what you would mistake for affection could actually be your dog urging you to vomit your meal in their honor.
According to Alexandra Horowitz, director of the Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College and author of the book Inside Of A Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know, “Researchers of wild canids, wolves, coyotes, foxes, and other wild dogsreport that puppies lick the face and muzzle of their mother when she returns from a hunt to her denin order to get her to regurgitate for them.
Similar to how your dog can just think you taste good. Dr. Mary Burch, a certified expert in applied animal behavior, notes that people have slightly salty skin, especially after working out. Consequently, such licks might have more to do with salt-seeking than with showing affection. According to Horowitz, if your dog enjoys licking your face, it will probably do it right after you’ve had a wonderful meal. Also, any food will do.
However, there is also proof that licking might occasionally be an indication of love. According to Horowitz, licking has evolved from a food-seeking activity to a ritualized welcome for many dogs. Wild members of the dog family may lick one another to welcome them home. Therefore, those daily slobbers may simply be your dog’s way of letting you know that he enjoys seeing you.
Dr. Burch says, “Licking can be a gesture of affection.
The same sense of security and comfort that the dog had when its mother licked it as a puppy may likewise be provided by it.
When Is Licking a Problem?
Most dog licking is harmless and often encouraged as a form of self-expression. Burch asserts that there is no cause for concern that it represents a type of dominance—quite the contrary, in fact.
She claims that one view is that the licking is an indication of submission.
The theory is that submissive canines will lick a more dominating group member.
However, there are specific circumstances in which you might want to prevent your dog from having a drool fest. The first has to do with human comfort; some people just don’t enjoy being licked. It’s better for your dog and your friend if you can change your dog’s behavior if you have a germaphobic friend who gets nervous whenever your dog comes close.
However, licking could occasionally be a sign of a more serious issue. It could be an indication of worry, boredom, or pain if your dog is licking themselves, you, or things excessively to the point where it appears to be a self-stimulatory habit. Self-licking out of obsession can also be an indication of allergies or other medical conditions.
What Can Dog Owners Do About Problem Licking?
Have your dog’s veterinarian examine them and take care of any medical issues or discomfort if they are self-licking excessively. Behavioral remedies are an option after medical causes have been ruled out.
“According to Dr. Burch, one solution is to refocus your dog. ” Change the activity when they lick. Choosing a behavior that is incompatible with licking, such as solving an interactive puzzle to obtain a treat, is an excellent alternative. Additionally, you can educate your dog to perform tricks or play with a ball.
Without ever employing negative reinforcement, you can progressively reinforce the lesson that you don’t want your dog to lick by repeatedly performing this redirect.
A particularly effective approach to transform a persistently undesired action into a chance for positive reinforcement is trick training. Have the dog sit first, which may cause the licking to cease on its own. Then, reinforce the behavior with a goodie. Why not train your dog to give you a hug so you can take advantage of their affection? or to speak when called? You may even practice sitting up, crawling like an army, or weaving your legs. You might even look into Trick Dog competitions if you and your dog decide that trick training is truly fun.
Whether you decide to start teaching your dog tricks or not, you should always make sure that he receives a lot of love and exercise. Unused energy in excess might result in excessive licking as well as other more harmful habits.
Do you need assistance training your dog? In spite of the fact that you might not be able to attend live training sessions during COVID-19, we are still available to you electronically through the AKC GoodDog! Helpline. With the help of this live telephone service, you may speak with a qualified trainer who will provide you with unrestricted, personalized advise on anything from behavioral problems to CGC preparation to getting started in dog sports.
I pet my dog, but why does she lick me?
There’s a decent likelihood that your dog is licking you out of love for you. Because of this, many refer to them as “kisses.” Licking humans and occasionally even other dogs is how canines express their love. For dogs, licking is a normal behavior. They picked it up from their mothers, who showed them love and attention when they were puppies. If they can get to your face, dogs might lick it. If not, they might just scavenge any exposed skin, including the hands, arms, legs, and feet. Some dogs lick less frequently than others. If a dog does not lick, it does not necessary follow that it is not as affectionate. It may not have preferred licking or it may have simply learned things differently as a puppy.
Although the exact cause of dog licking is unknown, the majority of specialists concur that there are probably a number of causes. Unless it upsets you, licking is not regarded as a major behavioral issue. Even your attitude toward your dog’s licking may change once you understand why.
Attention-Seeking: Licking activity that begins as a gesture of affection is frequently encouraged by an individual’s response, such as laughter, a smile, caressing, etc. Your dog can be lonely or bored. It wants your attention right where you are. Licking can be influenced by even unfavorable attention. Any kind of attention, even unfavorable attention, will satisfy a dog’s need for attention. You are not ignoring it if you push it away, tell it “no,” or even discipline it. This might inspire licking.
Instinct: Wolves (and occasionally wild dogs) vomit meat from the hunt when they return to their puppies after a meal. The pups will lick the meat off the mother’s mouth because they are too immature to hunt on their own. Some people think that dogs occasionally lick intuitively since the tendency has been inherited through DNA.
You Taste Good: Once it starts licking you, the dog may notice that you have an appealing, somewhat salty human taste. Dogs adore anything with a unique flavor. Additionally, your dog can investigate his surroundings by licking. After all, you are a part of that world.
Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior: Although it is uncommon, dogs can develop obsessive-compulsive disorder. Prolonged stress and anxiety are frequent causes. Constant licking, which typically entails licking oneself, items, and surfaces in addition to others, may be a serious issue. Concerns you have regarding your dog can be discussed with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian might suggest consulting an expert in animal behavior. Additionally, medicines to lessen anxiety may be prescribed by your vet or a veterinary behaviorist. Even if you might believe that medicine should only be used as a last resort, it’s crucial to realize that animals cannot learn while they are really anxious. A tool that can be utilized in conjunction with training is medication. Even as your dog goes through training and behavior modification, medication may be used briefly.
When you touch a dog, why do they lick you?
Instinctively, dogs lick things. According to studies, licking causes a dog’s brain to release endorphins. Neurotransmitters called endorphins help humans and dogs feel calmer and more relaxed. For a number of reasons, including affection, communication, grooming, exploration, attention, and taste, dogs lick people.
Learning to Lick as Puppies
Dogs quickly discover that their tongues are helpful instruments for interacting and communicating with their environment. As soon as they are born, mother dogs kiss their pups to clean and stimulate them. Puppies are also licked by their mothers for the first few weeks of their lives to make them urinate and defecate.
In wild dogs, puppies lick their elders to show submissiveness but also to encourage the older pack members to regurgitate food they consumed while hunting. Puppies lick one another to express love and to provide solace to themselves and their littermates.
Licking People for Taste
Additionally, licking improves your dog’s ability to smell. Dogs can taste bitter, salty, sweet, and sour, just like humans, but because they have a limited number of taste buds, they actually rely more on their sense of smell when determining what to lick or eat. This is perhaps the reason why dogs want to lick our cheeks, ears, paws, and hands since they have strong tastes and odors.
We need to quickly review the structure of human sweat in order to comprehend why dogs really like to lick particular parts of our bodies. Eccrine and apocrine sweat glands are the two types that people have.
Eccrine glands are numerous and are found on the bottoms of the feet, the palms, the forehead and cheeks, and the armpits. They release a thin, odorless, clear fluid made of salt, protein, etc.
Apocrine glands, which are located in the armpits and groin but also in the ear canals, eyelids, and nose, release a thicker fluid that interacts with the microorganisms on your skin to produce body odor.
When I pet my dog, why does he lick my hand?
To keep their pups clean, mother dogs will lick them. A dog will behave in this way their entire lives. After using the restroom, dogs may groom themselves or lick their behinds. The most you can hope for is that your dog decides to kiss your face before their behind rather than the other way around! An issue to be aware of is excessive licking. This can be a sign of some undiagnosed health issues. For instance, licking your dog’s paws momentarily relieves the intense itching he experiences when suffering from an allergic response. If your dog keeps licking his rump, it’s likely that he is irritated or that his anal glands need to be expressed.
Dogs may lick you to express themselves. A dog may lick calmly when being affectionate, but under other circumstances they may lick more frantically. Your dog may lick more frantically to express how they feel if they are scared, nervous, or thrilled. When you return home from a hard day at work, your dog’s licking may seem a little out of control. Your dog initially only licks you because he’s delighted to see you, but then something else begins to happen. All of this excitement and joyful licking causes your dog’s body to release a massive amount of feel-good hormones. Your dog gets a natural high from licking, which encourages him to lick more.
When they are licking you, observe their body language. Your dog will exhibit a wagging tail and frenetic licking when they are really happy or thrilled. Perhaps you simply asked them if they would want to walk. You should try to identify the source of your dog’s stress and try to reduce or remove it if they are crying, tucking their tail, or displaying other signs of distress.
Licking can be a compulsion in certain dogs who have obsessive tendencies. There’s more to this than just your dog licking people’s hands. They can be licking their empty plate, a location on their bodies, a piece of furniture or a wall. To rule out any potential medical causes of compulsion in this situation, you may wish to speak with a veterinarian. A trainer or behavioral specialist may be better equipped to assist you in changing your dog’s behavior and managing compulsions if the dog receives a clean bill of health from the veterinarian.
A symbol of affection is licking. Because they adore you, your dog might lick your hands and face. Your dog may like licking because it releases endorphins. Some experts also assert that licking is a symbol of submission in addition to affection. It may imply that your dog regards you as the dominant member of the household or pack.
Dogs frequently display submission when they lick another dog’s muzzle or the mouth of a human. It’s your dog’s way of telling you that you’re the top dog in this place. A small “Got anything to eat?” can also be said. When puppies in the wild rely on their mothers to share some of the new meat in her mouth, this instinct appears to have existed since the earliest stages of the evolution of dogs.
ailments or allergies
Itching and compulsive skin licking in your dog could be symptoms of allergies or skin conditions. To find out what’s wrong, you should take them to the veterinarian for a checkup. I’m hoping it’s as easy as some lotion or relaxing baths. Medication or dietary changes may be used as additional allergy treatments. The use of a fresh food diet for your dog, such as Ollie’s, that is prepared with vitamins and minerals like omega-3 fatty acids can help to relieve and prevent common skin problems.
The licking should stop if you work with your dog’s veterinarian to treat any skin or allergy issues. Some dogs may eventually develop a habit out of it, making it more obsessive. After the medical problems are under control, you can address any compulsions or behavioral disorders.
Why do you think your dog loves you?
You can know if your dog is loving you by looking for the following signs:
They can’t wait to see you. This scene is one that all dog owners have seen. When you open your front entrance, a playful fur storm greets you. It’s possible that your dog will leap up on you, lick your face, and wag its tail. One way to know someone loves and misses you is by their excitement and joy when they see you.
They want to be touched. The infamous lean, a short nuzzle, or a cuddle are all examples of this. These are all indications that your dog wants to demonstrate affection. The best course of action is to let them complete this on their own terms, so resist the impulse to tightly hug them.
They wish to rest close to you. Dogs naturally sleep adjacent to each other in packs. They put their noses to the breeze to detect any odors that might indicate danger. Your dog is expressing trust and security when it curls up next to you or wants to sleep in your room.
They look at you sweetly. Dogs reserve the ability to maintain eye contact with someone they love and trust since it is a huge move. Direct eye contact is an aggressive action in the wild. They employ this strategy to scare one another and assert their supremacy. Your dog is staring affectionately in your direction when they meet your right in the eyes and maintain eye contact without their pupils expanding.
They inquire after you. cooking, watching TV, and using the restroom Your dog tries to be there for you throughout the entire experience. Your dog might visit you in bed once or they might follow you around the home all the time. One of the many ways your dog displays affection is by checking in on you. They are checking on your wellbeing!
When they lick you. There are a variety of reasons why your dog might lick you, but in the end, it’s always out of affection. They want to talk to you and get your attention. They can be getting ready to play or simply giving a kiss before a snuggle. They want to let you know they care in either case.
Their toys are shared. When your dog wants to play, they may occasionally tease you with their toy, but when they truly want to show their love, they’ll give it to you as a gift. They want to give the person they care about their most precious thing. It certainly sounds like a lot of love.
Only when there is food involved are you second. A dog that loves you will put you before everything—even a full bowl of food. Only then will they fall head over heels in love with anything else.