Why is My Dog Licking Me?
Dogs love to lick their pet parents for a plethora of reasons. Part of being a pet parent is understanding your dog’s behavior and what they may be trying to tell you.
Your dog could be licking you because they demonstrate love and affection for you. For this reason, it is a wonderful privilege for you to be licked by your pup. They may also be trying to communicate their needs to you and ask you for something.
Your dog may also lick you after you eat some yummy food or if you have had a bad day and need to be comforted. If you want to find out more about why your dog may be licking you, check out this article.
Why Dogs Lick Humans
Everyone with a dog has been on the receiving end of a big sloppy dog kiss! It usually happens right when you get home from work. They run up to you, barking excitedly and plant a big kiss all over you. You may get wet, but it is a good feeling. Your pup has made you feel like the most loved pet parent ever!
It is a natural impulse for your pup to want to lick or groom you. They may be greeting you when you come home from being away from them for a while. They may also think of you as one of their own and want to groom you from head to toe!
Dogs are also not discriminating when it comes to all the places, and they will lick on you. They will lick your face, ears, feet, and legs. They will pretty much lick whatever they can get to at that moment. When your pup licks you, know that this is not only their love language but also their way of life! They have been learning how to lick since they were a puppy from being licked by their mother.
What Gives Your Dog the Instinct to Lick?
There are many different reasons why dogs lick their pet parents. The following includes the reasons why your dog has the instinct to lick:
Their Mother Licked Them When They Were a Puppy
Mother dogs teach their pups early on that licking is part of the bonding experience they share. The mother licks her pups to stimulate them to breathe. She also licks them to clean them and encourage their reflex to urinate and defecate. She even eats her puppy’s waste to conceal her baby’s scent and protect them from predators lurking around.
A mother’s instinct is to keep her baby warm, fed, and safe. Dogs are no different than humans in that sense. Most importantly, licking is how the mother shows her young affection and love. Simply put, dogs will lick you because they were licked as a baby.
They Are Showing You Affection
Licking is a way that pups bond with their family members. When you are away from them all day, they miss you. Licking you is how they greet you and let you know they are happy you are home! Your dog is most likely demonstrating their love and loyalty to you by licking you. It is also their way of asking for love and affection from you.
You Taste So Yummy to Them
One of the motives for your dog licking you is because you have just eaten a tasty meal, and they want in on it! Your pup loves it when you smell like:
- Peanut butter
If your pup tries licking your hands or face after a meal, it is likely because of what you ate! Dogs will even try to lick humans after a workout,
They Are Showing Empathy
Dogs are extremely emotionally intelligent, responding to your facial expressions and sensing your moods. Your pup tends to know when you have had a bad day, and they naturally have the drive to comfort their humans.
This is the reason why there are emotional support dogs for people. Dogs will offer comfort, such as licking and nuzzling their humans when upset or having a tough day.
They Are Stressed or Anxious
Dogs, like humans, can get stressed out or anxious. It can result in some obsessive-compulsive behaviors, such as licking you incessantly. Your dog may be stressed because of changes in the home, or they may be afraid of a thunderstorm or fireworks.
In that sense, it may be a coping mechanism for them. When your pup licks you, it raises oxytocin levels in both of you, which can make the two of you happy and help alleviate stress. Licking is a behavior that can be relaxing to them, which could be the reason why your dog licks you when they are anxious.
They Are Showing You Respect
When dogs run in packs in the wild, they often have an alpha dog that is the leader, and the leader shows the other pups the way. When your pup licks you, they could be looking up to you as the pack leader of the household. It means that they respect you and they are looking to you for guidance and leadership.
They Are Communicating a Need
Sometimes when a dog licks you, they are trying to communicate that they need something. They may be hungry or thirsty, or they need to go outside to do their business! Dogs are like babies when they are trying to ask you for something, and it is up to you to determine their needs.
They Are Cleaning You
Grooming is essential for proper health, which is why your dog is constantly cleaning themselves. They may be trying to help you by cleaning you when they lick you. It is because animals groom each other to keep their coats clean and decrease the possibility of health problems, and your pup wants to ensure you are clean just like them.
They Are Trying to Heal You
Your dog may see that you have a cut and wants to heal it by licking you. Dogs grooming human cuts or wounds is quite common, and it is another one of their many instincts. Your pup licking your injuries will help to loosen the bacteria or dirt around your wound and helps to prevent infection.
According to notabully.org, dog saliva has some antibacterial properties that can promote healing. However, your pup’s saliva should not be used in place of modern medicine. Although, it is seriously sweet that your dog wants to help.
How Can I Keep my Dog from Licking Other People?
It is one thing for your pup to lick you, but what if they lick everyone who visits? It is important to mention that dogs who lick are not doing any harm. However, you may not want your pup to lick everyone. You can teach them other ways to show affection, such as giving high fives and hand shakes with their paw. If you feel more comfortable, you can teach your dog only to lick you on command.
There are different reasons why your pup may be licking you, but it is usually nothing to worry about. Remember, dogs are instinctively programmed to lick for many reasons. Usually when your dog is licking you, they are showing you signs of affection and respect.
If you have further questions about your dog’s licking habits, reach out to Veterinary Healthcare Associates in Winter Haven, FL at (863) 324-3340!
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About Veterinary Healthcare Associates
Veterinary Healthcare Associates in Winter Haven, FL, was established over 30 years ago as Maxwell Animal Clinic by Dr. John Maxwell. Maxwell Animal Clinic was a one-doctor general practice offering preventive care, dentistry, and standard surgical services to the community. As the years passed, Maxwell Animal Clinic evolved into a thriving 10-doctor general, specialty referral, and emergency veterinary practice.