Why Do Dogs Lick You?
Ever wonder why some dogs like to lick humans so much? What is going through their mind when they lick us? Dogs lick for a number of different reasons and licking is not a problem unless it becomes excessive. When puppies are born their mother licks them to stimulate them. Puppies are blind when they are born so the mother uses licking to communicate with them and this also makes them feel safe. Dogs in the wild also lick each other, it’s a way of communicating and building relationships with pack members. Members of the pack will also lick themselves and others for grooming purposes. When they lick each other it improves their bond and the strength of the pack. Some of the more submissive pack members will also lick senior members as a sign of respect. Domestic dogs may still have some of these behaviours, but over the centuries they have developed different reasons for licking humans.
Dogs will often lick their owners simply because they have something really tasty on their skin. You may have eaten something a few hours ago but your dog can still smell and taste it on your skin.
Salt on skin
We have a certain amount of salt on our skin, and this is very appealing to dogs. You might notice that your dog tends to lick you after you have been sweating and doing exercise. Sometimes dogs will simply lick humans to taste the salt on their skin.
Licking can become an attention seeking behaviour. If a dog learns that when they lick their owner they get attention they will often increase the behaviour. The more they lick, the more love and attention they get from their owner. This is fine if it happens occasionally but if your dog is regularly using licking to get attention you may want to try to reduce this behaviour.
Dogs like humans sometimes because the simple act of licking has a strong calming effect. It releases endorphins that give them please. This then makes them feel more relaxed and at ease. Licking is simply a pleasure for some dogs.
A few dogs just seem to get into the habit of licking. Sometimes owners encourage licking without realising it and dogs can become a bit obsessive with their licking. If licking becomes too much of a habit you may want to see a behaviourist to figure out why your dog is licking. Some dogs for example will lick when they are stressed or as a result of a past trauma.
A lots of people think that when dogs lick us it is like they are kissing us. That’s not what is going on in a dog’s mind exactly, but many dogs do lick their owners as a sign of affection. They may just be extremely happy to see their owner.
Some behaviorists believe that dogs lick their owners to leave their scent on them. Has your dog ever licked you just after you have had a shower? This could be because you washed their scent off and they want to put it back on again. They have a need to mark you as theirs.