If you have a dog, you know that licking is usually a common gesture that your pet usually has. And it is that perhaps you had never thought about it, but the fact that your dog licks you often is a form of communication from your canine friend. As they cannot communicate by speaking, they know how to find other ways to do it and one of them is licking.
Veterinarians say that licking is like barking, it is part of the body language of dogs to communicate with us and thus be able to convey different emotions.
If you want to know what some of the reasons that influence this common behavior in our pets are, then find out in this post.
6 Reasons Why Your Dog Licks You
Dogs use licking as a form of communication that can express very different sensations or needs, so here we tell you 6 reasons why your dog licks you.
There are many things about dogs, those best friends of man that we still do not know. Dogs are one of the best companions for people, but to coexist properly with them, we need to understand their forms of communication, such as barking, howling, moaning, and licking. So that you can learn more about furry animals.
5 common reasons why your dog licks you.
- As a form of greeting
The first meaning that why your dog licks you is because he wants to say hello to you. It is quite typical that when you get home, your dog gets excited and starts jumping on you, barking, and of course, licking you. Dogs normally use this medium to get to know people due to their keen sense of taste.
The taste of a person transmits a lot of information to the dog: his chemical composition, his state of health, and even his state of mind. Consequently, the dog always tends to lick his owners or any new person who comes into his environment.
- Because of your taste or smell
A very basic reason why your dog licks you is that he likes your taste or smell, probably linked to food. It may also happen that your dog likes the cream you are using or even, it may be that he likes your sweat, no matter how unpleasant it may seem to you, it is salty for him. And in fact, on many occasions, your dog licks you because he wants to clean you.
In this way, by licking, your dog will obtain information about whether you have eaten something or if you have even touched another dog this way, it will assimilate the molecules of your smell and flavors, if your dog likes your smell, then, he will want to lick you a lot.
- As an act of submission
Also, having your dog lick you can mean submission. In fact, if he licks your hands or feet while sitting, this means that your dog respects you. They also do it with each other, in such a way that when they lick each other means that they accept and respect each other.
- Because of a negative feeling
The above reasons are linked to something positive; however, your dog may lick to try to calm some type of negative sensation such as anxiety. Licking an object, himself, or a person can be a way of distracting himself or trying to calm something internal that you are feeling. In this case, if we perceive that our dog experiences anxiety, we must go to the vet to try to avoid this situation.
- As a token of affection
In the same way that it could mean respect, it also means affection and caring. This behavior is something that dogs inherit from their mothers while dog mothers lick their puppies to clean and stimulate them. In this way, when you are being affectionate with your furry, he will surely return the show of affection with a lick.
The truth is that in most cases, those so common licks are usually signs of affection towards their owners. An example: he can lick your hand when you walk into the house and caress him. It is a way of welcoming you by showing you their love and their joy at having you home again.
- He wants to play
Dogs are very intelligent creatures and they know how to associate certain actions with others, for example, they know that if they lick you, they can get something in return such as being your attention. Thus, they know that if they lick you they will get a caress, a treat, or even play. Depending on how you react, they may associate it with licking and in case you give them a toy or throw the ball, they will lick you since they will be associating it with that action, which could become a habit for the dog.
Can the Dog Betray Fear?
As the veterinarian explains, dogs can lick for many reasons, not just to express joy or affection. Licking can sometimes be accompanied by a low position of the ears and tail, in this case wanting to convey an attitude of fear or submission. And they can also act by licking us excessively to attract attention or in situations in which they are nervous, since through licking dogs release endorphins, which can help them calm down.
Is it Something We Should Try to Correct?
Some people have doubts about whether it would be advisable to correct this behavior and veterinarians suggest that only do it in those situations in which the act of licking towards the owner is excessive or compulsive, outside of a normal daily situation.
How should we act, then in front of a dog that licks us all the time?
If an exaggerated licking behavior is perceived, it is necessary to set limits and stop this attitude. In these cases, it is advisable to go to a specialist in animal behavior for more specific advice depending on the case.
Can They Transmit Diseases through Licking?
It is another of the doubts that may arise and the answer of the veterinarians is that, in general, the licking of a dog should not be considered a risk as such transmission. However, contact with the mucous membranes should be avoided so that the dog cannot transmit germs that can develop as diseases, although intestinal parasites are transmitted primarily through feces, if the dog has licked its anus before and licks the human’s face soon after, it is possible that it is transmitted in this way.
Dogs can also transmit various bacteria, such as Pasteurella multocida. Affected dogs show no symptoms of the disease, but they can infect humans. At worst, it can lead to blood poisoning or meningitis, but it is very rare for an infection to occur. However, as you may know, you have to wash your hands after touching your dog, and even if he has licked you when you will cook, eat something or touch your face. This is very important for those with immune system problems and small kids.
Also, the most important thing is to take adequate hygiene measures after contact with the animal and to carry out a correct and complete program of both internal and external deworming.
What Experts Say about this Behavior?
Specialists who study animal behavior also rely on assumptions after closely observing the behaviors that exist between dogs, wolves, foxes, and coyotes, all animals of different species, but that are genetically related, therefore, they are similar in their behaviors. Wild cub wolves have been observed to lick her mother’s face and mouth after she returns from hunting. This is because the mother regurgitates the food that she hunted for them to eat.
In this way, it is likely that your dog, when you get home, will receive you with licks on the face to give him food, taking into account his natural behavior related to wolves. But specialists also confirm that licking is a welcome gesture as well as remembering or having learned from their mother to lick as a means of cleaning. In this way, as mentioned above, your dog may want to clean you to fill you with the scent of her again as well as, he is greeting you.
According to the American Kennel Club (a registry of purebred dog pedigrees in the United States), licking can also mean that your dog is going through a moment of anxiety. When dogs lick a certain thing a lot (be it your hands or a toy) they may be anxious. Specialists recommend that in this case, you distract him by making him play more, especially that you take him for a walk and play outside the house. Also, you can train him with some tricks so that he stops doing it.
Remember that you can always count on the help of an animal behavior specialist to help your dog feel better in case of anxiety. However, licking is their way of communicating.
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