Most dogs have a phase where they lick anything and everything around them. Your leg? Lick. Your couch? Lick. It drives some people crazy, especially because they have no idea why they do it. That’s why we’re here to give you 4 reasons your dog is licking you (and everything else):
4 Reasons Why Your Dog is Licking You
That steak you ate smells delicious
Researchers have found that puppies in a wild dog family lick their mother’s mouth after a hunt. It often acts as a way of getting her to regurgitate what she caught so they can have a bite to eat. So if your dog is licking you, they may be doing so out of instinct hoping that you will feed them what you just ate. This can also explain why your dog is licking the floor, a wall, etc. There is likely some faint traces of food that the dog is trying to taste. A little gross, but on the plus side it means your dog likes your cooking!
Sweat contains sodium, which is something dogs have been found to enjoy. This may be why your pet is always there to greet you after you return home from a run, or licks your leg on, particularly hot days. Typically your dog licking sweat isn’t necessarily indicative of a lack of sodium or anything, but you can always check with your vet if you’re unsure.
If you’ve been noticing that your dog has been licking everything in sight, perhaps it’s trying to tell you something. Excessive licking could be a sign of anxiety or pain, or could mean that the dog is understimulated. Check-in with your vet if the licking is worrying you, and keep them stimulated with walks, toys, and playtime.
Behaviorists have found that certain wild species of dog will welcome home members of the pack with licks, so they may be doing the same with you. Licking may also release endorphins that provide comfort and calm them, making them feel happier and more content. So they may actually be doggy kisses after all. Bring on the love!
Can I Stop It?
Licking often comes naturally to dogs, and they are unlikely to ever stop completely. However, there are some positive reinforcement tricks you can do to curb the behavior. You can try ignoring them or walking away if they are trying to get your attention (letting them know they need to get your attention some other way). You can also give them a treat or toy to distract them and make them forget about licking you. Taking a shower or swapping out your body wash could also make your skin less appealing to the dog.
If nothing else works it could be a health issue and you should check with your vet. Keep in mind that because this is a natural behavior the dog will not recognize it is wrong and punishment will be ineffective in curbing the behavior. Does your pup love to lick? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments below!