Why does my dog... lick me?
Simple signs of affection, or something more serious? There may be more than meets the... tongue!
Affection and Bonding: Licking is a way for dogs to show affection and strengthen the bond with their owners. It's often a sign of love and friendship, as it releases endorphins that create a sense of comfort and closeness.
Communication: Dogs use licking as a form of communication. It's a way for them to convey their feelings, whether it's to show happiness, seek attention, or display submission.
Greeting and Submission: Licking can be a submissive gesture in the dog's social hierarchy. It's an evolutionary way for them to demonstrate submission to a more dominant individual or as a way to greet and acknowledge a higher-ranking member of the group.
Exploration and Curiosity: Dogs explore the world through their senses, including taste. Licking is a natural behavior for dogs to investigate and learn about their surroundings, including the scent and taste of their owners.
Attention-Seeking: Dogs often lick to get attention from their owners. If your dog licks you and receives a positive reaction (e.g., petting, talking), they may continue this behavior to get more attention.
Mimicking Puppies: Licking is a behavior puppies use to solicit attention and care from their mother. Some adult dogs may retain this behavior as a way to seek comfort or attention from their human companions.
Taste and Salt: Human skin can have a salty taste due to sweat, which dogs find appealing. Dogs might lick you to taste the salt or simply because they like the taste.
Stress Relief: Licking can be a self-soothing mechanism for dogs when they feel stressed, anxious, or uncertain. It helps them relax and feel more secure.
Healing and Comfort: Dogs may instinctively lick wounds or areas of discomfort as a way to promote healing. Their saliva has some antibacterial properties that can aid in the healing process. Excessive licking and chewing however can quickly create sores and infection. If your dog creates a habit of intense and localised licking be sure that they aren't causing themselves harm or discomfort.
Sensory Stimulation: Dogs have a highly developed sense of taste and smell. Licking can provide sensory stimulation and help them gather information about their environment and the people in it. Licking their nose allows it to capture even more information from the world around them and "read the room" with higher accuracy.