Why Do Dogs | Why do dogs lick you?

Reading your dog’s behaviour is among the many things you are required to do as a dog owner/lover. Most dogs have a constant habit of licking your face, hands, feet, ears, or any part of your body they can whirl their tongue around comfortably.

As much as you love your dog, you may not be so comfortable having your dog licking you up and you may begin to wonder why your dog does that. 

Your dog may have quite a number of reasons why he licks you up each time but most times, it’s more like a sign of affection depending on where they’re licking.

The question, ‘why do dogs lick you?’ has quite an array of answers to it and they’re all dependent on different conditions.

Dogs do not only lick humans. They also communicate with each other frequently via licking, for example;

Licking in dogs
  • Mothers lick their puppies as soon as they are born to keep them clean
  • In the first few weeks after birth, the puppies are licked to encourage them to go to the toilet. 
  • Also, it’s a sign of love, and affection and a great way to bond.

Why do dogs lick you so much?

As you may already know, licking is a very natural impulse in dogs. Licking helps calm your dog and soothe itself if it’s stressed. This is because endorphins are released in the dog’s brain during the process. Your dog also sees licking as a way of self-expression, grooming, bonding, etc. it can also be that your dog licks you just because you taste good.

While licking has a number of positive reasons, excessive licking can sometimes be a sign that your dog is anxious, uncomfortable, or in pain. Hence, it is very vital to pay close attention to your dog and contact a vet as soon as you can when you need help. Below is a list of possible reasons why your dog licks you;

1. Show of affection

Licking is a dog’s way of showing affection. Just as you’d feel stroking a dog, it feels nice for dogs to lick their loved ones. This behaviour is closely linked to the comfort they felt when their mother licked them as puppies

So, basically, licking may be your dog’s way of showing closeness and affection towards you.

2. Call For Attention

More often than not, humans typically respond with attention and love when they get licked by their dogs.

Once your dog finds out that licking you is a great way of gaining your attention, then get ready to be licked as often as he wants some attention.

Your response to the licking matters a lot and it determines if your dog may continue doing it in the long run or put a hold on it.

3. They’re showing empathy

Empathy could be another reason your dog is licking you. As man’s best friend, dogs have to some extent at least, shared our feelings over time, and they always appear to have an unbelievable ability to interpret and understand human feelings.

For dogs, licking is a comforting behaviour, and they always tend to have this urge to comfort unhappy humans.

4. Dogs like how you taste

Dogs are able to taste salt and this is not far from the reason why they lick you when you’re sweaty. Another time your dog may enjoy licking you is after you just had a meal. Surprised? Well, you may think you’ve washed everything off after a nice meal but your dog with the help of his highly sensitive nose may be able to smell minuscule remnants of what you’ve just eaten

While licking may seem ‘innocent’ and unharmful, there are times you shouldn’t let your dog lick you, a good example is after applying lotions and/or medications like psoriasis creams. This is because the cream, lotion or medication can be very poisonous to dogs, so never let your dog lick you after applying any of those.

6. They’re hungry

By now, you must have been familiar with the fact that licking is one of the ways your dog communicates with you. If your dog should start licking you around his feeding time, then it may be a clear indication that he needs food, water or both.

This is not strange behaviour for dogs. Even in the wild, younger dogs lick their mother’s lips when they return from a hunt to signify that they’re hungry.

7. Anxiety

Sometimes, licking is a symptom of an issue to look out for. If your dog is licking himself, you, or objects excessively, this might be a sign of anxiety, boredom, or pain. There are several reasons why your dog might feel anxious, including:

  • Your behavior
  • Dogs with separation anxiety may feel anxious when their owner returns home.
  • Some dogs may be prone to a general sense of anxiety, based on their disposition.

Licking causes dogs’ brains to release dopamine and endorphins, hormones that can help them feel more relaxed, hence, the urge to lick you when they’re anxious.

To respond to this type of licking, you can try petting, cuddling, or offering encouraging sounds or words. This can encourage your dog to use licking as a way to get comfortable in the future.

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