Are those “kisses” actually the signs of love & affection that we want them to be? Dogs lick us for a variety of different reasons, ranging from showing admiration, to letting you know that something is wrong! Below, I listed out the different reasons why your dog may be licking you, as well as accompanying signs that will help you interpret the reason behind the slobbery greeting.
It’s true! Dogs really do give us “kisses” in the form of licking. In fact, this is the most common reason why domestic dogs lick their pet parents. When you get a wet puppy kiss, your pooch is letting you know that they love you. Licking releases pleasurable endorphins, giving dogs feelings of comfort and pleasure.
Love & Affection
Ever scratch Fido behind the ear only to have them end up licking your hand the entire time? This goes back to the idea that licking is pleasurable to your pup. He/she is letting you know that they are satisfied with what you’re doing!
To Show Pleasure/Gratitude
Another reason your dog may lick to show gratitude is because they know you like it! What better way to thank someone than to give them something nice back? Think about it. Every time your pup gives you a kiss on the cheek, you respond positively. Whether you get down and give them a pat on the head, or you pull out that baby voice and thank them for the kissies, you are practicing positive reinforcement. Even if you say something to them after they lick you such as “stop licking me!” you’re giving them the attention that they crave from you, and thus, encouraging the behavior to continue.
They’re Rewarded For It
Dogs instinctively use licking to communicate with one another. Therefore, they do the same thing with us- especially since we typically do communicate in some form back to them. A couple of kisses could just mean your dog wants attention. However, if the licking is excessive they may be trying to tell you something important, such as they’re hungry or their water bowl is empty.
Dogs often lick us because they enjoy the natural salty taste of our skin. Gross, but true! Dogs explore the world with their noses and tongues. They are intrigued by that sweaty, salty flavor our bodies produce. This goes back to the idea of love & affection as well. Ever catch your pup stealing your socks or underwear? Gross as it may be to us, your pup just loves you and wants to feel close to you! Licking these personal items both tastes good to them, and makes them feel comforted, and closer to their loving owners.
We Taste Good!
Dogs, like cats, also lick to groom themselves. Just watch out for excessive licking/cleaning as it can be a sign that their anal glands need to be expressed.
Behavioral or Medical Condition
If you notice your dog is constantly practicing obsessive licking, especially if it is in one particular spot, this could be a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder. If you feel like your dog is acting aloof or frightened at the same time, this could be a sign of anxiety. Dogs will compulsively lick one particular spot on their own body due to medical reasons as well. Licking of the paws is a common practice that can be associated with allergies. If you notice your dog excessively licking one specific object, person, or area on themselves definitely seek counsel from your veterinarian. He/She may suggest medical treatment or a consultation with a behavioral specialist.
In most cases, your pups licking is a positive sign that they are happy! Enjoy the wet smooches & know that your dog loves & respects you as their PAWrent!!
CAUTION: Ordering a Bark Potty subscription
will cause your pup to lick you excessively. This licking is not a behavioral or medical condition. It goes back to the idea that dogs lick to show pleasure/gratitude. Your dog will be so happy that they're no longer going potty
on wee wee pads or artificial grass, that they will want to thank you over & over again! ;)"