Anna Olson

Anna has a passion for keeping pets healthy and happy. She grew up with a Great Pyrenees as a family dog. Currently and currently has an orange tabby. She worked at a dog grooming and bathing salon where she learnt more about canine behavior and bathing. She lives in Wisconsin, in the United States. When she is not writing, she helps her partner run their small business, knitting, and enjoying local parks.

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Why Do Dogs Lick You?

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Anna Olson
Jul 29 ·

Why do dogs lick you? Does your dog kiss you on the mouth? Have you ever wondered why your dog is drawn to lick you? Have you noticed your dog grooming themselves or you more than normal?

There are several reasons why dogs lick their owners and important people in their lives. Why they lick you depends on whether you’ve eaten recently, your mood and stress level, or theirs. Generally, their reasons for licking you are positive and harmless.

Let’s find out the reasons why your dog licks you.

It’s Instinctual Behavior

Dogs have an instinctual motivation to lick for several reasons. It’s how a mother dog gets her puppies to start breathing and cleans them up right after they’re born. It reinforces pack bonding in the wild. It’s how dogs explore the tastes of their world.

Why do they lick you? As the dominant member of their pack, they may be licking you to show their submission. This is common behavior in wild packs of canids. The submissive, usually younger, members of the group will lick the mouths of the more dominant members.

Of course, there could be another reason why your dog licks you on the mouth. Puppies in wild wolf and dog packs lick the mouths of their parents after they’ve come back from hunting. They’re trying to get the older dogs to regurgitate the food they’ve just taken down and eaten. If you’ve just had a meal, this may be the reason why you’re getting “kisses” on the mouth.

why do dogs lick you

They Love You

Though there are other reasons why your dog licks you, the most prominent one is affection. In the wild, packs of dogs lick each other to reinforce good relationships and harmony. When your dog greets you by licking, you can rest assured you are extremely important to them.

Licking and showing physical affection releases endorphins in a dog. These hormones, like in humans, help with stress relief and comfort. Showing you they love you offers huge emotional benefits.

They Think You Smell And Taste Nice

Licking may be a way for your dog to explore your taste and scent. Since you’re a member of their pack, they will use smell and taste to identify you and get closer to you. This is also why your dog may steal your socks and underwear, or cuddle your children’s stuffed toys.

Experts also theorize that dogs like the salty taste of your sweat. If they lick you primarily after you work out, this may be the reason. As mentioned above, if your dog licks you after you’ve eaten, they probably smell food on you and want you to share.

They Want To Relieve Stress

Dogs are emotionally very intuitive. If you’re stressed, they will easily be able to tell. Since kisses are calming for them, they may try to calm you down by licking you. They may also try to calm themselves down this way. You’ll be able to tell if your dog is nervous or stressed through their body language. A nervous dog will usually have lifted ears and tilt their head. They may also start whining and pacing. If your dog is showing these signs of nervousness, you can reassure them through petting and positive attention.

It May Be A Sign Of Something Wrong

Most licking has a positive motivation for dogs. Even if you’re not a huge fan, regular dog kisses are harmless shows of affection, or an attempt to get the food you’ve just eaten. However, excessive licking and grooming, of you and themselves, could be a sign that something’s wrong.

Behavior-wise, excessive licking may be related to boredom, anxiety, or stress. Excessive licking is also a symptom of pain or an allergic reaction. A lot of food allergies in particular will cause itchy skin, which your dog may try to relieve through grooming.

What Can I Do To Help My Dog?

If you notice your dog licking to an extreme degree, seek veterinary attention. Your vet will be able to diagnose the underlying cause. From there, they can either make medical changes or recommend behavioral strategies.

If your dog is licking because of boredom and stress, there are several strategies you can use to curb this behavior. Redirect your dog’s attention when you notice licking behavior. You can use interactive puzzles, train them to do tricks, or get out into the world for exercise and play. No matter what, your dog needs mental stimulation, physical exercise, and a lot of affection.

Many dog owners accept kisses as part of the experience of dog ownership. However, there are some who aren’t big fans for various reasons. For these owners, redirection and trick training also work to curb licking behavior.

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WRITTEN BY
Anna Olson

Anna has a passion for keeping pets healthy and happy. She grew up with a Great Pyrenees as a family dog. Currently and currently has an orange tabby. She worked at a dog grooming and bathing salon where she learnt more about canine behavior and bathing. She lives in Wisconsin, in the United States. When she is not writing, she helps her partner run their small business, knitting, and enjoying local parks.

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