Why does my dog lick me?

Why does my dog lick me?

We've asked ourselves this many times! Love it or hate it, most dogs lick their owners, other dogs and even strangers. Our Staffy Ebba licks EVERYONE, and she particularly love our boys’ piano teachers’ feet?! But why do dogs lick? Licking is an instinctive behaviour in dogs. It’s a way for them to groom and express themselves, but it can have other meanings too. In this blog we’ll explore the six most common reasons.

It’s a sign of affection

Licking is your dog’s way to say, “I love you!”. It’s a sign of affection learned at an early age. Mother’s lick their puppies and it makes the puppies feel good, so they assume it makes us feel good too. When your dog greets you with a big lick across the face it’s a sign of love, affection, and an attempt to bond with you.

You taste delicious

Dogs can’t resist the salty taste of human skin. Have you noticed that your dog licks you more when you’re back from your run, covered in sweat? This is because dogs love the taste of salt. Even if you don’t sweat, your skin tastes like salt, and this is why your dog licks you.

They’re exploring

As humans, we explore the world by touching with our hands. With only paws and no opposable thumbs, dogs explore by licking and chewing. They use their taste and scent to understand the world which is why puppies chew absolutely EVERYTHING!

They want attention

Licking is a great way to get attention. When your dog licks you you’ll probably pet them, stroke their fur, and talk to them. It’s very difficult to ignore a dog that licks you and they know it! The more you fuss over them after they lick you, the more they’ll do it.

It calms them down

Licking plays an important part in the bonding process between mothers and puppies. It’s also how dogs’ bond with their humans. Licking releases dopamine and endorphins which makes the dog feel happy and calm.

They’re hoping for food

Young dingoes and wolves often lick their mothers’ lips when they return from a hunt to show that they’re hungry. Even domesticated dogs lick their mothers. When puppies are being weaned their mother will regurgitate food for their puppies to help them adjust to eating solid food. Puppies will often lick their mothers’ mouth, hoping to set off this regurgitating reflex.

Although licking is a sign of love and affection, not everyone likes a wet tongue and dog breath. If licking becomes an issue, we encourage you to speak to your vet.

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