We love it when our dogs show us affection, but is your pup licking your face really a sign of love?
Or could it be something to be concerned with? A lot of dog parents love being licked when you’re stroking and being greeted by them, however some don’t, so what do you do if it becomes a problem?
In this blog we discuss why your dog licks you and how to combat their behavior.
Why does my dog lick so much?
Licking is an instinctive, natural behavior - for your pooch, it’s their way of bonding with you, grooming you and expressing their personalities. They may be licking you to simply get your attention, or to soothe themselves if they’re anxious or stressed, or they could simply be just showing you they love you. Excessive licking is likely due to anxiety and stress, or your dog may be in pain. If you’re concerned speak with your Veterinarian for advice.
Does my dog have an instinct to lick?
Our need to use affection to greet our dogs is natural to us, much like licking is to your pooch. As you stroke your pets fur, they see this as an affectionate form of grooming - which dogs do with their tongues - so often the instinct is to lick you as a way of grooming, bonding and showing their love. Some dogs may bring you a ball, toy or item they’ve picked up in their mouth to greet you and some dogs will lick.
What should I do about problem licking?
Remember, licking is a perfectly natural behaviour and it’s often how dogs express themselves. If you have an excessive licker, firstly it’s good to know why your dog may be licking you.
Showing Affection - Licking is an instinctive behavior, much like when their mother would lick them as a puppy. Licking is a comfort and important to how they bond with you and others. Just as we love to stroke our dogs, they most likely will love to lick you too.
Showing Empathy - If your pup is concerned about you, they may try to lick you to make you feel better and to take care of you. Your dog is most likely to lick and nuzzle you when they’re trying to share and understand your feelings.
Seeking Attention - Every time your dog licks you, it’s likely you’ll show them some attention - whether that be asking them to stop or cuddling them to say thank you. Each time you engage with them after they’ve licked you, you’re inadvertently encouraging them.
Tasting Good - If your dog licks you more on a hot day, or after you’ve worked out, it’s likely they’re licking off the sweat or rather salt and acidic chemicals on your body which taste good to them.
They’re Hungry - In the wild, your little pup would have licked their mother’s lips to show they were hungry. This instinct is hardwired into your dog and they may lick you to tell you they’re hungry.
Anxiety - Licking is soothing to your pup, if they have separation anxiety, they might lick you often to help them feel less anxious. Although it’s rare, your dog may develop a type of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) - try to interrupt this behavior and invite them to do something else. Speak to a vet or a behaviorist professional if you’re concerned about your dog’s health or behavior.
To get your pooch to stop licking, simply move away and distract them with another task. You could also invite them into a training session with you as this is also a great way to bond. Make sure you’re consistent and only give them positive attention when they’re doing what you want them to do.
If your dog is licking you obsessively, especially if it’s a new learnt habit, speak with your vet or a behaviorist professional.