Why do dogs lick you?
Have you ever arrived home to be greeted by your overjoyed dog who then proceeds to lick you all over your face? Chances are that the answer is yes! You might believe that this is a sign of pure happiness from your dog who is simply delighted to see you. Whilst this may be true, there are other reasons why your dog is showering you with kisses. Read on to find out why do dogs lick you…
Love and affection
There is evidence to suggest that licking is a sign of affection in dogs. Since you’re the one who takes care of your pooch and you mean the world to them, licking is often their way of showing you that they love you. When dogs lick, endorphins are distributed into their blood, making them feel happy and calm. Plus, because most dogs were probably licked by their mothers when they were young, they have developed a natural instinct to show their love by licking. Licking becomes a ritualised greeting for many dogs.
You taste nice
Your dog may lick you simply because they think you taste nice. Animal behaviourists point out that humans tend to have somewhat salty skin, particularly if they’ve been sweating due to exercise. So, it’s possible that when your dog licks you, it might be less about showing affection than wanting to taste the delicious salt on your skin. Some experts believe that dogs are more likely to lick their owner’s face after they’ve eaten a meal. Believe it or not, your skin can be a world of flavours and smells to your dog!
They want a reward
Most people respond to their dog kissing them positively, often rewarding them with cuddles or treats. Therefore, it’s natural that dogs will lick their owners if they’re confident they will react in a way they enjoy. Your dog is attuned to your responses, and over time they will learn that licking you is likely to lead to them being rewarded in some way. Whether you stroke them, scratch them or give them food, this reinforces their behaviour and they will lick you more. They’re aware that they will get receive something enjoyable by doing so.
A dog’s paws can’t examine things like our hands can. Therefore, it’s possible they lick items to investigate them. Their tongues have lots of sensory cells, making them excellent for exploring things. As such, in some cases, they may simply enjoy licking people to find out more about them.
How do I stop my dog from licking me?
Whilst your dog licking you can mean they’re showing you affection, sometimes it can be irritating, particularly if they’re doing it often. Constantly wiping their saliva from your face can certainly be annoying if you’re having to do it frequently. Some people don’t like being licked or may worry about the spread of germs. Although dogs can spread bacteria through licking, their saliva is very unlikely to cause any problems if a healthy person’s skin is intact. There will be very little absorption through the skin. At Jaycliffe Pets, we run one of the busiest dog kennels in Rotherham and the surrounding areas, and so we certainly know a thing or two about being licked by dogs! If you want to stop your dog from licking you so much, try the following techniques.
Keep your dog occupied
Since dogs often use licking as a way of playing with their owners, keeping them occupied can help to reduce how frequently they do it. Distract your pooch with toys or take them on a walk if their licking is getting too much. However, do keep in mind that because your dog has been using licking to communicate with you for some time, it can be difficult to break this habit. Don’t scold them if they lick you, but try to reinforce appropriate levels of licking.
Ignore your dog
Although it might seem harsh, usually the most effective way to prevent your dog from licking you too often is to simply ignore them. If you stop responding in a positive way when they lick you, they’ll be less likely to do it. By showing your disproval instead, they will stop associating their licking with receiving praise and rewards. When they go to lick you, move away from them, turning your back. If they jump up at you whilst attempting to lick you, keep turned away until they’ve calmed down. Once they’ve stopped, turn back to them and greet them as usual.
Change your body scent
Since one of the most common reasons that dogs lick their owner’s skin is that they enjoy the salty flavour, you could try changing the scent and taste of your skin. Often, this can be enough to stop them from licking you. Change your soap, body wash, and even your perfume, as these are all things that can impact how your dog reacts to your skin. Some people recommend using bitter flavour sprays and other taste deterrents to discourage dogs from licking.
Don’t ignore excessive self-licking
As you can see, there’s usually not too much to worry about when your dog licks you. Often, it’s a sign of affection or that they enjoy the salty taste of your skin. However, if you find that your dog is licking themselves excessively, it’s worth investigating further. Occasionally, self-licking can be a sign of stress, anxiety, or open wounds on your pet’s skin. Obsessive self-licking can also indicate allergies or other health problems. So, if you’re concerned, consult your vet as soon as possible.
Jaycliffe Pets is a leading local dog kennel in Rotherham. We’ve cared for hundreds of dogs of all breeds throughout the region and our team possess a vast wealth of expertise. Call us on 01709 645 046 to discuss your pet care requirements, or email us here.