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Picture this: You come home after a long hard day at the office, and your furry pal greets you with a big, wet sloppy kiss. Now you wonder: Why my dog licks me? Is it really a sign of affection?
While it can be an indication that your pooch is happy to see you, there is a wide array of reasons behind this kind of behavior.
In the forthcoming sections of this write-up, I will explain dogs’ complex psychology licking their owners and whether it’s a positive or negative thing.
Dogs have categorized different ways to communicate their different emotions to us as their favorite humans. And this differs from dog to dog.
For example, my fur baby, Fluffy, has the habit of giving me the best puppy eyes before licking me. Then I serve him IAMS PROACTIVE HEALTH Minichunks Dry Dog Food, Chicken to keep him healthy and fit.
There can be an “n” number of ways for dogs to communicate with their owners. It can be through barking, licking, to giving you the best puppy eyes like Fluffy.
Again the question arises why my dog licks me? Irrespective of whether it’s happening incessantly or just from time to time, it’s fascinating to find out ways of reading their behavior in a better way.
When I brought Fluffy home for the very first time, and he started licking me, I was confused. Then I consulted with my vet, who told me there are different reasons for your furry pal to lick you.
I have incorporated all the points here so that you can better understand their behavior that will ultimately help you get closer to each other.
So, here we go.
Understanding – Why My Dog Licks Me?
They show affection towards you
The most likely reason for domestic dogs to lick you is to show you some love.
For some pet parents, this can seem to be a bit too much. The best way to curb this behavior is by teaching them an alternative positive behavior response.
However, if it doesn’t bother you, licking to show that they’re fond of you may mean that your pup releases dopamine endorphins that help calmer them down.
So does that mean that dog licks are literary their kisses towards you?
Well, the answer is yes and no. Dogs always replicate your behavior towards them. If your pooch licks your face and you respond positively with hugs, kisses, or playing, he/she will want to replicate this behavior.
Even if they’re licking you for reasons besides wanting to show affection, they will continue to do so if you respond with affectionate behavior.
Try to recognize the licks’ intensity and frequency and determine whether they’re licking your hands, feet, or face to better understand their behavior.
They are trying to decode our mood
In case your pooch is keen on licking your sweaty hands or feet, it can be an altogether different reason. It is very interesting why it is so.
Their senses pretty much drive dogs, and more often than not, it’s the first part of our body that we reach out to them.
We emit pheromones in our sweat, which can be decoded by dogs to comprehend our mood better. The tongue hardly captures it. But, instead of licking can send signals to the vomeronasal organ to figure us out.
We taste good to them
One answer to why my dog licks me is? because most of the dogs will do anything to get their hands on something to eat.
It can be licking crumbs off the floor, getting the last scraps from their bowl, or cleaning up after a spill. They’re usually the first ones to get involved.
The same thing goes when they lick us too. They might want to lick the last bits of food after we’ve been eating. They are even attracted to the taste of salt on our skin.
Whether it is done to taste our skin or for our pheromones needs to be debated further.
They show empathy by licking us
It has also been found that our pooches express empathic concern towards us by licking whenever we’re stressed out or upset.
According to a study, dogs licked, nuzzled, or sniffed their owner when they pretended to cry more often than when talking or humming.
This response pattern can comfort those dog owners who vouch that their pooches can find out when their owner is upset.
Licking is also one of the mechanisms in dogs to find out more things about their owners.
They’re submissive to you
Whenever your doggy licks your hand, it is a sign of submission to you as a leader of their pack. It is also used to ease the stress of separation anxiety if you’ve been absent.
Licking your hand is typical canine behavior with its roots way back when dogs evolved from wolves in the wild.
During those times, the pack leader would be licked by other canines. Whenever they came home to reunite with other pack members, licking would symbolize that they are obedient companion and have missed them.
Why Does My Dog Lick My Eyes?
This is, surprisingly, also a sign of submission. It derived from the stages of the early development of a puppy when they were conditioned to lick their mother’s muzzle.
They might seem to be curious in the same way when their mother came back from hunting and enquiring, “have you bought food back to share?”, “where have you been?” and so on.
There are times when submissive dogs groom the pack or owner’s leader, so it could also be a form of grooming.
Is It The Same As When Dogs Lick Other Dogs?
Dogs and humans generally communicate in a different way than how we humans interact with each other. For our fur babies, licking is an instinctive practice that develops with a function.
It starts when they’re born. It has roots in their behavior even before they are domesticated.
Puppies lick their mothers for warmth. It also makes them learn about where she has been and what she eats.
The mother-pup relationship tells us more about why dogs lick.
During puppyhood, you might have observed that mothers spend a lot of time licking their young pups. This is a safe and nurturing way of upbringing. This is something that the dogs carry with them throughout their lives.
In case you have ever observed puppies with their mothers, you might have noticed that licking is quite a noisy affair, and they’re usually slow.
This indicates a special, instinctive relationship between the mother and pup.
The mother’s licking is to encourage urination and defecation and then to clean up after the act to eradicate any odors before predators discover them.
For adult dogs, licking communicates submission to a pack member that they consider dangerous or superior to them.
Licking the nose or lips of a dominant dog means the end of a conflict.
What Does It Mean When Your Doggy Licks A Lot?
While it seems to be normal practice to being licked by your doggy now and then, it is essential to understand the frequency and intensity your dog licks you to figure out how they’re feeling.
As a dog owner, incessant licking often requires scrutiny to determine the problem with them.
Here are some of the signs that your pooch might be feeling when he/she licks you a lot:
If they’re obsessively licking your hand, it could mean that they are suffering from a form of separation anxiety. This is particularly true if they’ve been left alone.
Always remember: Dogs are pack creatures, so if you leave them alone for a long time, it can cause them stress.
In case they’ve felt fearful after their owner has been away, an urgent sense of licking means that they are craving some interaction with them.
Licking excessively could also mean that they crave for your attention and are hungry. This usually happens after a long hard day at work when they’re ready for dinner.
This also has roots in pack behavior, when they’re curious about what their mother has brought for them back from the hunt.
Use Pedigree Adult Dry Dog Food, Chicken & Steak to keep their tummy full.
They’re asking you to take care of them
Whenever a doggy licks you, more often than not, it showcases that they want you to take care of them in some way or the other.
The reason being, primarily, the domestic dogs are dependent on their owner’s love and care for their wellbeing.
They want space
There are different types of licks that your dog gives.
In case your pooch licks you and then drifts away when you put your face too close to theirs, it might be their way of communicating that they want you to give them some space in case they’re already quite comfortable.
Final Thoughts About Why My Dog Licks Me?
I hope this write-up has answered your question: Why my dog licks me?
Certain dogs also lick as a form of playing. The best way to reduce the number of licks is by keeping them occupied.
Distract them with toys wherever appropriate. Take them for a walk when you think they’re trying to play.
Keep this in mind, if your pooch has identified licking as a preferred way of communication for an extended period, it might not be easy to train them out of their typical behaviors. For this very reason, I recommend you never scold your doggy if they fall back into their licking habits.
However, if you find anything unusual, consult with a vet at the earliest as excessive licking of any of their body parts might signify a wound or injury.
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