As dog owners, we often find ourselves questioning the habits and quirks of our pets. Sometimes those habits and quirks are unique to our individual dog or certain groups of dogs, but sometimes those habits and quirks are universal. One of these habits that a lot of our clients here at Leesville Animal Hospital ask about frequently is licking. Why do our dogs lick us? What does it mean?
Why Does My Dog Lick Me?
Whether it’s our faces, hands, legs, or anything else for that matter, our dog’s just love to give us licks, but what does it mean?
The truth is that there are a few reasons for this behavior that we tend to interpret as a sign of love akin to human kisses. Let’s take a look at some of these reasons!
- You taste good! This one is obvious. If you have just had your hand in a bag of Cheetos, there is no guessing as to why your dog wants to lick your fingers!
- You smell good! Another gimme. If you have just finished said bag of Cheetos and have great cheesy breath and your dog is lapping their tongue as they smell your breath, they’re just trying to get some of that cheesy goodness!
- Your dog loves you. Affection is another reason why your dog licks you. Your dog is equipped with limited ways to show you just how much they love and appreciate you, licking is one of those ways!
- Your dog is acting out natural canine behavior used to solicit resources. If you have ever observed a wolf pack during feeding time you will notice that licking occurs in two different circumstances. The first of these situations is when puppies lick their parents mouths to encourage regurgitation of already consumed food so that they might eat. The second situation in which wolves lick during feeding is when lower ranking members of the pack are “requesting” to share in meals with the higher ranking members of the pack.
- Your dog may be exploring! Just like we rely on our senses to tell us more about the outside world, your dog may simply be “exploring” new smells they detect on you by licking.
- Your dog may be trying to get your attention. Rather than children who can grab you, pull you and shout your name, dogs have more limited means of getting your attention and licking you is one of them!
- Your dog may also be repeating licking behavior because they have learned that when they do lick you, you pay attention to them!
As you can see from the list above, there can be a wide variety of reasons why your dog is licking you and these can vary from being need-based to being attention seeking! If you find, however, that your dog is incessantly licking themselves, you may need to make an appointment with your veterinarian. Compulsive self-licking can be a sign of health concerns such as anxiety, allergies, pain or infection.
If your dog is licking themselves compulsively give us a call and make an appointment with one of our veterinarians today!