Most dogs love to lick. Some owners don’t mind, others absolutely hate it. Whichever camp you’re in, have you ever stopped to wonder why your dog licks you so much? We’ve covered a few of the most common reasons here!
In the canine world, licking is used as a form of communication. If your dog is licking you excessively, take a look around – he could be trying to say “my water is empty” or “I need to go outside”. It could be as simple as your dog trying to say”hey! I’m right here.. pet me!”. If you run through and check the options, chances are something is amiss.
Research suggests that pets enjoy the taste of our salty skin. If you’ve had a particularly hard, sweaty day at work, chances are your pet will pay you lots of licky attention when you get home! They may start licking due to one of the other reasons listed here but they will carry on thanks to your salty skin!
One of the main reasons our pooches lick us is to show affection. Licking for affection releases endorphins in your dog and makes him feel calm and happy. Licking is a common behaviour in packs of wild dogs and whilst sometimes it can be a show of submission to other more dominant members of the pack, it is also a way to show affection for others.
You may have inadvertently taught your pooch that licking is a desired behaviour that will be rewarded. For some dogs, they have learned that licking you results in them getting lots of attention, pats and strokes, even if you are saying “stop licking me!” whilst you do it. Your dog doesn’t understand your words, they just know that if they want attention and love, all they have to do is lick!
How to make it stop
If you’re sick of your dog licking you, you need him to understand that it is not a desired behaviour. When your dog starts licking, stand up and walk away. Don’t communicate verbally or touch your dog as this could be misinterpreted as a reward for licking. If you consistently stand up and walk away when your dog licks, over a short period of time he will realise “I lick and they leave me!” and the licking should subside. That being said, if your dog is obsessively and excessively licking you or himself, it may be time to consult your vet.