Why Do Dog Licks Human?
Dogs are extremely intelligent pets and use a variety of methods to communicate with humans. Licking us is one such method. But, licking can actually have many meanings. The act does not translate to display of affection all the time. Often, it's much more. Seven predominant reasons why dogs lick humans are outlined here. Understanding the actual message your pet is trying to convey through licking will strengthen your relationship with your pet.
If you’re a true dog lover, the best part of going back home has to be the no-holds-barred greeting from your canine friend the second you step in. Nothing beats their eager sniffing, frantic tail-wagging, and that slobbery lick on the face that leaves you dripping with drool. But have you ever wondered why dogs lick humans? Some possible reasons are: to show affection, to seek your attention, to converse with you, to let you know you’re the boss, to find out more about you, and sometimes just because they like how you taste, and because they think you enjoy a good lick.
So here are 7 possible reasons and meanings behind your loving little doggy’s relentless licking.
1. To Show Affection
Licking is a dog’s way of displaying their love and affection for humans. Dogs are known to be naturally affectionate animals and have many different ways of showing their love. When dogs lick you, their brains release endorphins or happiness hormones, which calms them down and reassures them. It could be compared to the very same feeling and sense of security a child has when their parents hug or kiss them. In some cases, they may lick to cheer you up when you are sick or sad.
2. To Communicate
As speaking animals, we mostly associate communication with words, sound, or body language. So when you hear your dogs bark or see them wag their tails, you think they are trying to tell you something or warn you of something. However, licking and few other less stereotyped gestures may also be forms of communication. They may be trying to tell you that they want something from you, like some food, water, or a game of fetch. Whatever it is, spend enough time with man’s best friend to learn to interpret what their behavior means.
3. To Seek Attention
Do you know what a dog’s motto in life is? Love and be loved. Which is why they always crave your attention and do all kinds of things to get it. This is similar to how kids perform their many crazy antics to receive attention and be liked. Dogs would bark, wag their tails, rub themselves against you, jump on you, and even land their sloppy wet kisses on your unsuspecting face, especially when you pay more attention to something or someone else. So when they feel neglected or less loved, they know what the one thing they have to do is. When they do this, show them your love by patting them, rubbing their bellies, giving them a treat, and showing them how much you love them too. You know that more than anyone else, they deserve that from you!
4. To Show Submission
As with all animals who live in packs or are socially driven, licking can also be considered a submissive gesture toward the dominant member of the pack. Sometimes, the gesture of licking you is to tell you that you have their obedience and respect and that they are directly communicating their subordination to remind you that you’re the leader of their pack. They may do this with other members of the household or even other people who have earned their love and respect.
5. To Explore
Why dogs lick humans can have to do with their natural tendencies as hunters, which go back to their pre-domestication days. There’s nothing to be alarmed, though. When surviving in the wild, they used the superior sense of smell and taste to explore places, identify people, discover or know different objects whether animate or inanimate. Just as we are connected and learn the sensations of the world around us through our senses, dogs use their sense of taste to distinguish and recognize the various things around them and us. Whether it is that skunk running around in the backyard, that new garden gnome you just got, that meatball sub you shouldn’t have kept in their reach, or even that food stain on your cheek …
6. To Identify Your Unique Taste
Just as how dogs identify you by your distinctive odor, they can also clearly recognize you through the taste of your skin. Based on the taste of the salts released from the pores of your skin when you sweat, they are able to recognize and recall who you are. Once they lick and register those taste markers for different people in their minds, they can accurately identify who each one is and reassert their memories with every fresh bout of licking. Some dogs also lick because they like the salty taste of your skin.
7. Because They Think You Enjoy It
If the habit of licking a person is encouraged, the dog assumes that the person enjoys the experience. Therefore, this operative conditioning makes the dog repeat the act of licking over and over again, not just to you but also those around you, until told otherwise. On the other hand, if you discourage the dog from licking, then the dog begins to understand that you do not like it and stops the licking behavior soon after. However, that doesn’t mean they may stop doing that to other people. By then, they might understand who likes their licking habit and who doesn’t.
So, now you know why dogs lick humans. Enjoy this simple gesture of their unwavering love. But if it becomes annoying, make it known to your intelligent furry friend that licking is not welcome and will definitely not get them a treat. In any case, try to avoid a face lick, especially if you are not well and your immunity isn’t rock solid and your pooch is not up to date with the vaccines and de-worming.