Why do dogs lick you? It seems there are some charming and heartwarming reasons but also some that are pretty gross and disgusting.
Humans and dogs have been best friends for millennia.
Throughout history as human civilisation has evolved from our early hunter gatherer era to our modern metropolises our faithful friends have been at our sides every step of the way.
And through every monumental change in our lifestyles, we have never wanted it any other way.
There is a true bond between ourselves and our canine pals.
Is that why they lick us? Is it there way of showing affection or could they be other reasons?
Why dogs like to lick us
It could be that they are showing affection, many people see licking, as a dog’s way of kissing. When your dog licks you, he’s showing you he loves you.
Animal behaviourist, Dr Mary Birch, says: “Licking can be a sign of affection. It might also give a dog a feeling of security, and comfort. Just as the dog had, when licked by its mother in the litter.”
Depending on your previous interactions with your dog, they may have also learned, that licking you will be rewarded, with a pat on the head, or stroking of his back – or even a tasty treat.
However, that isn’t the only explanation. Plenty of other potential reasons have been put forward.
Your dog might be hungry. But that doesn’t mean, that licking you is their form of manipulative, sweet talk – It could just be, that they want you to throw up, so they can eat your vomit.
Alexandra Horowitz is the head, of the Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab, at Barnard College.
She says that in the wild, members of the canine family such as wolves or coyotes, have been observed exhibiting such behaviour.
“Puppies lick the face of their mother, when she returns from a hunt to her den – in order to get her to regurgitate for them.”
Dogs can take in a lot of information from their tongues, and perhaps licking us, or other dogs, or anything else for that matter, could be a way of finding something out about us.
Another reason could be, that they are acknowledging that they see us as their masters. In the wild, dogs lick their mothers, or older members of the pack, to show submission to them.
Worryingly, according to some experts, our best friends might actually think, we taste pretty good.
Dr Burch said that humans’ skin is salty from our sweat, especially in the heat, or after exercise, and our dogs could like the flavour.
There could also be particles of food we have eaten, grease, water, oil, sodium, potassium and bacteria, all of which can occur naturally on human skin. And all of it can be pleasing to a dog’s palate, and it also helps him learn more about us.
There could be darker reasons for your dog choosing to lick you. …
Some experts say that obsessive licking, could be a symptom of bigger problems, such as fear, anxiety or boredom.
Obsessive licking can be a sign of health problems, including allergies.
If you are worried, you should take your dog to the vet. If your pooch gets the all clear from the docs, but you would still like the licking to stop, then it is a good idea to interact with him, in a way that makes licking impossible.
This could be throwing a ball, shaking his paw, or teaching him a new trick. This way, you are able to discourage your pet from licking, while avoiding negative interactions, and instead giving him positive stimulations.
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