Based on popular belief, dog licks have always been considered the canine way of giving kisses. We all look at our pups with tenderness after they lick us since we usually take it as a pure act of love and affection. But, is it really why it happens? Or is there another reason behind it? Why do dogs lick you?
Why do dogs lick you?ifferent ways of licking
Licking is the way dogs have to experience the world through taste and smell, so it is a very common behavior in the canine world. However, not all licks are the same. There can be several reasons hidden behind this instinctive act. Why do dogs lick you?
Yummy taste - A dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 sharper than humans’ smell, so they can sniff every little thing that is going on. We humans can often have tiny food particles in our bodies that smell irresistible to dogs, so they will try to lick them.
Sweat taste - If you train at home, then you probably know what I’m talking about. The smell of sweat makes dogs go nuts, so they will most certainly lick all your sweat off. Who needs showers when you have a dog, right?
Dental disease – Just like babies use their teethers to ease their gum pain, dogs might use licking to soothe their gum disease. Licking can alleviate the pain dental diseases can cause.
Nausea - When dogs are feeling sick, they tend to lick anything they can reach. Think about it: when you feel nauseous, your mouth produces extra saliva, and you may try to get rid of it by licking your lips. Well, dogs do exactly the same.
Exploring - As we’ve already mentioned, dogs are curious beings who discover the world through licking, so don’t be surprised if they use their tongues to get to know you better. Especially when faced with a stranger, dogs can use licking to try to determine their actions.
Show affection - As puppies, dogs receive constant licking from their mothers as a way to protect themselves. As they grow older, they continue to remember this act of love and might imitate it when they feel affection.
- Positive reinforcement - If we think of licking as dog kisses, then we will probably get super happy when our favorite being in the world shows us love. Whether our response is laughing, talking in a thin voice, or scratching them, dogs can tell when we are pleased and they enjoy it, so they do it over and over again.
Does face-licking present a health risk?
Now that we know why do dogs lick you, let's move to another important subject: is it risky?
When there is a human-dog interaction, it is very likely that the licking will focus on their pet parents’ faces. However, this doesn’t necessarily present a health risk. As long as you don’t have an open wound and you are not immunosuppressed, there is no real risk in receiving ‘kisses’ from your pup.
If you are going to have a kiss sesh with your pup, make sure you don’t have any chemicals on your skin that might be toxic to dogs (i.e., retinol, which is one of the main components of anti-aging creams).
How do I make my dog stop licking me?
As with any undesired behavior, you can apply the positive reward system. This consists of praising your pup when he is acting as he is expected. And if he starts licking you, you should go away and move to another room if it is necessary. When he stops licking you, you should always praise him since rewards reinforce his correct behavior.
Now you know why do dogs lick you, if you notice your dog is showing odd behaviors and licking seems incessant, you should contact the vet for a check-up.