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There is no doubt that when a dog licks you, it is because they have great affection for you. Knowing that they lick like one demonstration of great attachment, excellent bond of affection and respect, it is time to understand this act from a clinical and ethological point of view.
If your dog also licks you excessively, keep reading this AnimalWised article, where we will explain why does my dog lick me a lot and what to do.You may also be interested: Why does my dog lick my hands? Index
- Why do dogs lick? - Origin of the behavior
- Why does my dog lick my feet, hands, mouth, and face?
- My dog licks me too much, why and what to do?
- How to prevent my dog from licking me?
- Let my dog lick me, yes or no?
Why do dogs lick? - Origin of the behavior
The origin of this behavior is atavistic and has its innate roots in the behavior of wolves, specifically in the cub behavior. One of the main characteristics of wolves, and one that has been transmitted to their canine descendants, is related to hunting..
The wolves usually go out in groups to hunt, reaching long distances, moving away from the den where the group's cubs are sheltered. The latter anxiously await the arrival of the adults. When the group has had a successful hunt, the animals quickly and voraciously eat whatever they can. This is possible thanks to its particular stomach, which acts as an internal "market bag ".
Later, they return to the den and, when the puppies observe the arrival of the supplying group, they leave the burrow with a high degree of excitement and they begin to compulsively lick the snouts of adult hunters. These incessant licks generate in the adult animal a reflex nervous arc that stimulates a certain area of the brain, which causes vomiting and the consequent regurgitation of the food previously swallowed, and that is when the cubs can eat. It is easy to imagine how quickly this habit settles in the brains of youngsters..
Over time, dogs have inherited this behavior from cubs, so when dogs lick us, we are showing submission, respect and affection.
Why does my dog lick my feet, hands, mouth, and face?
Although the origin of the licking of dogs is related to the behavior of the cubs, this behavior can also be influenced by other factors, such as complicity and approval from your tutor. When a person likes to be licked by their dog, they not only accept this behavior, but compensate and reinforce it, or at least not repress or inhibit it. In this way, the behavior looks at the puppy's brain, so he will continue to do so as an adult.
When this occurs, it can sometimes lead to what is known as generalization of a behavior, in which, with the passage of time, dogs no longer only lick their guardian's face, but also begin to lick other parts of their body, such as their feet or hands.
For more information, don't miss the AnimalWised video below about why my dog licks me.
My dog licks me too much, why and what to do?
However, when a dog licks excessively, it may no longer be an affectionate display, but rather anxiety.
But ¿What does licking have to do with anxiety? The answer is quite simple, they do it because, in that way, appease or calm your anxiety. For this same reason, many dogs, when they are restless or excited, also lick objects such as tables, chairs or even the floor. That behavior of compulsive licking can be considered a human behavior homolog of nail biting (onychophagia) when someone is excessively nervous.
When the licking of the animal is related to situations of nervousness, it is time to look professional advice and help to prevent the situation from leading to compulsive behavior with more serious consequences, such as the dog's pursuit and tail nibbling, which can lead to serious self-inflicted dermatological injuries.
If the cause of this behavior is anxiety, a possible solution would be to opt for pheromones, as we tell you in this article about Pheromones for dogs with anxiety, ¿they are effective?
How to prevent my dog from licking me?
If you don't want your dog to lick you, the best ways to avoid it are the following:
- Don't reward it: A good tip to avoid this behavior is not to reward the puppy when he does it the first few times. That fact will make the puppy not get used to doing it when he has the opportunity.
- Divert their attention: In the event that he is already used to licking, the best way to prevent your dog from licking you is not by reprimanding or punishing him, but by diverting his attention to another situation, such as a game.
- Do not facilitate it: if the dog is used to licking your face, it is best not to bring it to his mouth when he is interacting with him.
- Healthy activities: enjoying activities with your dog that do not involve very close physical contact, such as going for a walk or running, will make your dog get used to them and, therefore, stop licking you.
For more information on properly educating your dog, we advise you to read this other article on Tips for educating dogs.
Let my dog lick me, yes or no?
Finally, an important issue to address is whether or not to allow a dog to lick a person's face, hands or feet. From the social point of view, if it is wrong or not, no one has the power to decide what is right or what is wrong with respect to this issue. Everyone has the freedom to decide how to relate to their pet.
From a sanitary and hygienic point of view, that is another story. The mouth of animals of any species is a place where a large number and variety of microbes. The mouth of dogs is no exception and, therefore, it is a probable source of infection. This does not mean that the person is infected, but that there is a possibility that it will happen. People who are immunosuppressed for any reason should not have this type of physical contact with their pet. Great care should also be taken with young children and very old people..
Preventing a dog from getting into the habit of "kissing " is as simple as not allowing it when it tries to do it the first few times, generally as a puppy.
In short and as it happens in many aspects of life, the problem is the excesses. That our dog gives us a "kiss " from time to time in a certain situation of joy, affection and well-being, is one thing, but that our dog is "kissing " us all day and for any reason, is quite another.