By Courtney Emken
co-written by Jen Larson, KPA-CTP, and Amanda Ott.
If you’ve been following our blog, then you know that we love to debunk dog myths and explain the seemingly inexplicable when it comes to canine behavior. This week, we’re going to explain why our dogs like to lick us, and we’ll explore how there might be much more to your dog’s licking than meets the eye. Let’s dive in!
#1 We Taste Good To Dogs
Don’t take this to mean that our pets secretly crave human for dinner. Dogs, just like us, find salty things delicious, and human sweat is chock full of salty-goodness. Over the course of a day our skin gradually builds up salt deposits, making us a tempting treat for Fido.
If your dog won’t stop licking you, especially post-exercise, they’re just trying to let you know that you taste wonderful!
#2 Your Dog Wants Attention
The majority of canine communication is nonverbal. Dogs primarily use body language to “speak” to other dogs and humans alike. If owners haven’t yet learned to read those signals, they may not realize that their dog has been trying to get their attention.
If your dog repeatedly approaches and licks you, they probably just want you to pay a little attention to them, and are resorting to their most effective communication tool- the lick!
#3 Your Dog May Be Anxious Or Worried
Licking can indicate that something is making your dog feel nervous. Dogs will often lick their chops when they’re anxious, and licking you may be an extension of this behavior.
When you suspect that anxiety lies behind your dog’s licking, evaluate the situation. Look around and see if there’s anything in the environment that might frighten them, like:
- New dogs
- Strange people
- Excessive noise
Once you’ve identified the source of their anxiety, relocate to somewhere that your dog finds comfortable and safe (like their crate). However, if a change of scenery doesn’t seem to do the trick, reassure your dog with calming signals and try giving them tea to ease their anxiety.
#4 Your Dog Is Trying To Appease You
In the wild, dogs communicate constantly in order to maintain group cohesion. One of their main tools for defusing tension are the appeasement gestures. Dogs use these signals to calm one another down and avoid conflict.
If you’ve noticed that your dog licks you every time that you’re upset then think of it this way. They’re just saying: “I love you, don’t be upset- now I’m gonna lick you so you won’t be mad!”
How Do I Stop My Dog From Licking Me?
While we all love attention and affection from our canine companions, there is such a thing as “too much,” especially when it comes to getting licked. If you’re having trouble with preventing your dog from licking, we highly recommend redirecting their behavior elsewhere.
For instance, give your dog appropriate toys and treats to lick instead of you, like:
Then, try redirecting them through training cues such as:
When these cues are properly reinforced, your dog’s desire to listen to you will easily outweigh their need to lick.
If you’re having trouble redirecting your dog, or have questions about what’s specifically causing their licking behavior, then contact us today. Our trainers can help you positively reinforce redirection cues and discover why your dog just can’t keep their tongue to themselves.
Puppy Lick by Adria
Nose Lick by Michael Dorausch
Group Lick by Andrew Zaragoza