Anyone who has ever owned a dog in their life had, at some point, due to their dog licking them excessively, asked themselves the question “What does it mean when a dog licks you ocassionally?”
Dogs, as with any animal, have some habits that are strange to us humans, and if your dog spends more than enough time licking you than, let’s say, playing with their toys or chasing some birds or squirrels in the backyard, you’ve probably wondered the reason as to why they do that. Well, here are some of the reasons behind your doggie’s weird antics described below.
What does it actually mean when a dog licks you excessively?
This particular behavior is not that bizarre when it come to dogs, as canines usually lick each other as a sign of submission, another typical situation is when mothers clean and bond with their newborn puppies. With the domestication of dogs, most of a dog’s pack is made up of the humans that it lives with, so that licking behavior has been transferred to us, according to Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, who serves on the advisory board for Pet Life Today.
“A dog often licks you to show affection, as a greeting, or to simply get your attention. Of course, if you happen to have a little food, lotion, or salty sweat on your skin, that may play a role as well.” Says Dr. Coates. Additionally, along with affection, these are some of the other things your dog wants from you.
What does it mean when a dog specifically licks you on your face?
As Dr. Jennifer Coates says, if you watch dogs when interacting with each other, you will see that a lot of the licking that’s happening is around the face. This is closely related to the fact that when dogs are little puppies, they actually lick their mom’s mouth to get her to regurgitate food for them to then eat.
So, with that in mind, you can deduce that when dogs lick their human’s faces that means they are usually trying to get some food, or some leftover flavor lingering on your mouth from the last meal that you ate.
Is it actually harmful for dogs to lick humans?
Dr. Jennifer Coates says, “Dogs often lick people to show affection, as a greeting, or to simply get our attention. Of course, if you happen to have a little food, lotion, or salty sweat on your skin, that may play a role as well.” With that being said bacteria can still be transmuted through the dog’s licks, so this whole behavior is not without risks.
As dog saliva does contain a bacteria known as Capnocytophaga in their mouths, that in some cases, although extremely rare, can cause an infection in humans that have weakened immune systems.
However, on the other hand, make sure that when and if your dog is licking you, to not have any chemicals on your skin, for example deodorant, or even lingering splatters of food that is toxic to dogs.
What does it mean when a dog licks one certain part of themselves in excess?
On this subject matter, Dr. Jennifer Coates had to say the following: Dogs will sometimes lick a certain part of their body or even a particular part of the couch or floor in your home over and over. “Itching or pain can cause dogs to lick themselves, while anxiety or a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder may lead to licking directed towards themselves or towards objects in their environment. Excessive licking of surfaces has also been associated with medical, especially gastrointestinal, disorders.”
Dogs can also smell where some food or a drink has been spilled on your couch or floor, even if the slip up has been done a while ago. A solution to stop them licking is to clean the floor or area thoroughly so that no lingering smell or taste is left.
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How can you actually teach your dog to stop licking you?
Dr. Jennifer Coates says, “If you want your dog to stop licking you, do your best to ignore the behavior; calmly get up and go into another room behind a closed door if you have to.” If this works and your dog stops licking you, you should make sure to give them a lot of praise and attention for listening and obeying so that they will not repeat the behavior in the future.
Another thing that Dr. Coates had to say is, “Over time, the licking should fade away as your dog realizes that it is not providing them with any sort of reward. Talk to your veterinarian if you think your dog’s licking could be related to a medical problem or behavioral disorder.”
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