Why do dogs lick?
When your dog licks its own body (its paws, privates, and even its butt!), another dog’s body, inanimate objects, such as your couch, or even the air, some of the reasons would be perfectly normal. Nevertheless, other licking activity your dog might indicate that it’s time to visit your vet.
Not all wants to be licked all over by their dog, although you might be amazed when you learn why licking is such a vital part of a dog’s identity. Why do dogs lick while other pets do not? For example, your cat will clean its fur for hours, but it probably don’t want to lick every inch of your face! Your guinea pig? Horse? Hamster? Goldfish? Lovebird? No way! The dog is born to lick, and there are main reasons why!
Renowned dog behavior expert and author Victoria Stilwell says that licking is a behavior that is vital to a newborn puppy’s survival.
“Right from birth, that is how the mother communicates with her new puppies, how she stimulates them to start breathing, and how she cleans them when they are born,” Stilwell says.
Licking is the first expression of love a dog receives!
Why Do Dogs Lick Your Face?
Your dog always wants to greet you with a wet tongue, right? Let’s consider it a doggy kiss! Dogs use licking with people mainly to express love.
According to Stilwell, when dogs lick, gratifying endorphins are being released, which brings feelings of delight and comfort, much like physical exercise or other stress-relieving activities do for people. More obvious is the fact that you might have some bacon crumbs or some other food residue on your face, which of course appeals to your dog.
Your dog would probably still remember that one place where you once dropped some beef by mistake on the kitchen floor! What could be better than food mixed with the scent of his favorite person?
Why Do Dogs Lick Your Feet?
It’s probably easy to understand why your dog would want to lick your feet when you get out of the shower. The water dripping from your feet and legs is probably a lot tastier and more appealing than your dog’s impersonal water dish!
Another fact is that dogs like the saltiness of our skin. That means our dogs might want to lick us even more when we’re hot and sweaty! The smell of your feet when they’ve been inside of your shoes is also attractive to dogs because it’s the essence of you, intensified!
Why Do Dogs Lick Your Hands?
Some of the same reasons apply here as they do for your feet. Your dog licks your hands because she loves you. When you think about it, you feed her, pet her, and bathe her with those loving hands. That makes them especially appealing to a pup.
Why Do Dogs Lick The Air?
This is not very common among dogs. According to Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) Jessica Potosky, of Sanford Animal Hospital in North Carolina,
“Dogs have an extra sensory organ in their mouths that gives them a better sense of smell. It’s a little like what snakes have, only not as well developed as a snake’s sense of the air.”
If your dog is licking the air, he might be trying to find out more about something he can’t somewhat identify or that he’s interested in.
Why Do Dogs Lick the Couch?
The object may have something left on it, like human oils or food. Dr. Potosky says that
“sometimes a dog is bored and licks an object for something to do or for comfort, like a baby sucks a pacifier.”
Maybe your dog needs more encouragement. You might give her something to do, something to learn, or something to enjoy. Getting her outside in the sunshine to chase a ball or have a nice walk will thrill her.
Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws?
Dogs have no reason to lick their paws except if something is on them or something is wrong. In many parts of the U.S., beggar lice (Hackelia Virginiana) stick like glue to your socks and shoes when you walk your dog through the fields, or it sticks solidly to your dog’s fur or hair around her legs and paws.
She could also get any number of other things stuck there that she instantly sets out to lick or chew free. If your dog can find nothing there, it might be a good idea to take your dog to your vet to find out if she has allergies, or if some kind of infection is causing her pain.
Why Do Dogs Lick Each Other?
Dogs may lick each other as a social grooming act, says Dr. Potosky. We shake hands and hug, and dogs lick. Dogs learn early in life to lick their mothers around the mouth. This may be a sign of submission to the one providing the food. Many times in packs of dogs, those in submission to the leader will lick him. With their owners, dogs will show submission after they’ve been reprimanded, licking their pet parents to “make up.”
There are times that a dog may lick another dog’s wounds, for some people, they believe that dogs have healing bacteria in their mouths that help wounds. According to Dr. Potosky, this is not true.
Dogs licking others’ wounds is never good, as it just causes more infection for the dog with the wound and possibly also for the one licking him!
How Can I Stop My Dog From Licking So Much?
If your dog’s licking bothers you, you can ignore this attention-seeking behavior, or you can redirect him to something else, like a favorite toy. If he seems to be extremely licking himself or licking an object, and there is no apparent reason for it, you need to take him to a specialist who does know how to get the answer!
As you can see, there are many reasons dogs lick. Some of them are joyful results of being a dog and some of them are cause for alarm and action on your part. Please share this article with your dog-loving friends to clarify when it is important to act and get help for your dog, and when you can just enjoy — or modify — his licking!
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