Our doggies have codified a series of ways to communicate different emotions to us as their favourite humans, and figuring them out differs from dog to dog.
Whilst it could be an indication that your pooch is happy to see you, there are a multitude of other reasons behind this kind of behaviour. In this article, well begin to explore the complex psychology of dogs licking their owners, and if its a positive or a negative thing.
However, if it doesnt bother you, licking to show you that theyre fond of you means that your pup releases dopamine endorphins that help calm them down. Even if theyre licking you for a reason besides wanting to show affection, they will continue to do it if you respond with affectionate behaviour. If your doggy is keen to lick your sweaty hands or feet, its probably a different reason altogether and its quite interesting why that is.
Whether theyre licking crumbs off the floor, getting the last scraps from their bowl, or cleaning up after a spill, theyre usually the first to get involved. They might able to lick the last bits of food after weve been eating, but they are also attracted to the taste of salt on our skin. It turns out licking can also mean that our pooches are expressing empathetic concern towards us if were stressed out or upset.
When your dog licks your hand, its a sign of submission to you as the leader of their pack, and eases the stress of separation anxiety if youve been absent. Licking your hand is typical canine behaviour that has its origins all the way back when dogs evolved from wolves in the wild. It derives from the stages of early development as a puppy when pups were conditioned to lick their mothers muzzle.
During puppyhood, you might have noticed that mothers will spend a long time licking their young pups as the Blue Cross explains, and if they have been brought up in a safe and nurturing way, this is something they carry with them throughout their lives. If youve ever watched puppies with their mothers, you might also notice that licking is quite a noisy affair, and they are usually quite slow. They usually lick them to encourage urination and defecation and then clean them up afterwards to eliminate any odours before predators discover them.
As their owner, incessant licking often requires you to take a closer examination at what might be an issue. Obsessively licking your hand could indicate a form of separation anxiety, particularly if theyve been left alone. Dogs are very much pack creatures, and being left alone for long periods of time can cause them stress.
If they have felt fearful after their owner has been away, an urgent sense of licking might indicate that they are craving some interaction with them. If your dog licks you and then moves away when you put your face too close to theirs, it might be a way of communicating that they want you to give them some space if theyre already quite comfortable. Long, noisy licks and a relaxed, soft body generally means that they are showing affection.
A wiggly body and a slurpy kiss probably mean theyre very comfortable to be around you and is reminiscent of experiences during puppyhood. If a lick is smaller and close to the mouth or nose, this might mean that a dog is trying to gather more information about you. Some doggies can truly show that they think a lot of you such as cuddling, barking, stretching towards you after lying down, putting their paw on you and leaning into you.
However, for some dog owners, its not a pleasant experience, particularly if you have to tolerate this behaviour a lot more than usual. So now that weve demystified why your dog is licking you, we can understand that there are a whole load of reasons why depending on the situation, and its up to us as owners to translate these doggy messages and figure out what exactly they need. Their incredible energy, camaraderie, loyalty and the love they share with us are just some of a few of the wonderful things you get to treasure when youve got a friendly pooch in your life.
All of these combine to lessen our stresses and help us enjoy life more as we develop a strong bond with them.
Why is my dog licking me so much all of a sudden?
If your dog is licking themselves, you, or objects excessively, to the point that it seems like a self-stimulatory behavior, this might be a sign of anxiety, boredom, or pain. Obsessive self-licking can also be a sign of allergies or other health problems.
What does it mean when a dog licks you?
“Dogs often lick people to show affection, as a greeting, or to simply get our attention. Of course, if you happen to have a little food, lotion, or salty sweat on your skin, that may play a role as well.” Along with affection, these are some other things your dog actually wants from you.
Why do dogs lick their owners?
Why do dogs lick people? … Many people think that every time their dog licks them it’s out of affection but it could be because of a variety of reasons such as affection, taste, communication, for a reward/attention, to show submission, a medical reason, enjoyment, grooming or simply to investigate.
Is it bad if my dog licks me a lot?
Your dog may have a medical condition.. An older dog licking a lot can be a sign of developing dementia. They may lick when nervous, stressed, or scared. They may obsessively lick you or objects near them for comfort. Separation anxiety may be the issue.
If your dog licks you a lot then youll know what its like to be slobbered on the face, hands and around the mouth, whether youre stroking them, feeding them or being greeted as you step through the door. Being licked by your dog can be a sign of affection, but it can have a number of other meanings too. So why do dogs lick and what can you do if it ever becomes a problem?
Puppies will groom themselves and their family and, aside from being a good way to clean, it’s also a sign of love, affection and a great way to bond. We explore the world with our hands, while dogs use their mouths and tongues to help them understand their environment, and to assess the mood of others.
Whether thats licking your face to greet you and assess your mood, carrying things between their teeth, or playing with toys or balls. Licking plays an important part of how they bond with others, causing them to release dopamine and endorphins that help make them feel relaxed, calm and happy. In the wild, young dogs may lick their mothers lips when they return from a hunt to show that theyre hungry.
Dogs may lick more frequently if they have increased anxiety or a health issue, such as an allergy, injury or arthritis. If you think your dog might be affected then they may be able to stop this behaviour if you interrupt them with an invitation to do something else for example go for a walk, play in the garden or do some training. If you find that your dog is licking you obsessively, especially if its a new behaviour, or if it becomes a problem and makes you feel uncomfortable, always speak to a behaviourist or your vet for advice .
If you do let your dog lick your face, make sure you wash it with soap and water afterwards to minimise any unpleasant contamination. It could be that theyre happy to see you again after dreams of chasing rabbits, or because in the night we secrete sweat and oils in our sleep and may taste delicious to them. Regardless of how tidy an eater you are, particles of food will remain around your lips, face and hands after youve finished a meal.
Obsessive licking can be a sign that they are stressed or anxious, or could suggest that they are in pain, feeling nauseous, uncomfortable or itchy.
Dogs lick for many reasons. Occasional licking can seem affectionate or help you bond with your dog. But when your dog licks your face constantly, it isn’t as cute. If the licking is constant, you might become frustrated with your dog. Your dog might not realize your frustration: licking might be how your dog tells you they love you. The act releases endorphins and calms your dog.
When your dog starts licking excessively, you should check with your veterinarian about underlying medical problems. Remember that you can train them in other ways to show affection, like hugs or speaking on cue.
If you cant curb your dog‘s urge to lick, you can consult with your veterinarian or an animal behavioral specialist.
Whats better than coming home to a kiss from a happy pup? Most dog owners interpret licks from their dogs as a sign of affection. In other words, the closest your canine companion can get to kissing. But is this accurate? And what can you do if your dogs licking is out of control?
Horowitz adds that if your dog likes to lick your face, it will often happen after youve finished a delicious meal. If your dog is licking themselves, you, or objects excessively, to the point that it seems like a self-stimulatory behavior, this might be a sign of anxiety , boredom, or pain.
Trick training , in particular, is a good way to turn a repeated undesirable behavior into an opportunity for positive reinforcement. Start by simply having the dog sit, which might stop the licking on its own, then reward the behavior with a treat .
Is Licking a Dog’s Way Of Kissing?
The jury is out on what a dog’s licking actually means. Believe it or not, what you interpret as affection might, in fact, be your dog encouraging you to throw up your lunch for them.“Researchers of wild canids — wolves, coyotes, foxes, and other wild dogs — report that puppies lick the face and muzzle of their mother when she returns from a hunt to her den — in order to get her to regurgitate for them,” notes Alexandra Horowitz, head of the Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College and author of the bookSimilarly, your dog could simply think thatBut, there is also evidence that licking is sometimes a sign of affection. Horowitz points out that, although it started as a food-seeking behavior, licking has now become a ritualized greeting for many dogs. Some wild species in the dog family will lick pack members just to welcome them home. So, those daily slobbers really might just be a sign that your dog is happy to see you.“Licking can be a sign of affection,” explains Dr. Burch. “It might also give a dog a feeling of security and comfort, just as the dog had when licked by its mother in the litter.”
When Is Licking a Problem?
Most licking is harmless, even welcome as a form of self-expression on the dog’s part. Burch notes that there’s no need to worry that it’s a form of domination — in fact, it’s quite the opposite.“One theory is the licking is a sign of submission,” she says. “The idea is that dogs who are submissive will lick a more dominant member of the pack.”Even so, there are some scenarios when you might want to head off a slobber fest from your pup. The first relates to human comfort, that is, some people simply don’t like being licked. If you have a germaphobic friend who cringes every time your dog approaches, it’s kinder to dog and friend alike to redirect the behavior.But sometimes licking is a symptom of a more serious problem. If your dog is licking themselves, you, or objects excessively, to the point that it seems like a self-stimulatory behavior, this might be a sign of anxiety, boredom, or pain. Obsessive self-licking can also be a sign of allergies or other health problems.