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Licking is a behavior that represents and also helps to maintain the high degree of emotional bond between the dog and his guardian, so it is not uncommon to see a dog lick the hand of his hand, as well as his face, feet or any other part of the body.
However, at times this behavior becomes even obsessive, causing their guardians to wonder why does my dog lick my hands. Therefore, in this AnimalWised article, we will try to answer this common question..You may also be interested in: My dog licks me a lot - Why and what to do? Index
- Why do dogs lick you?
- Why does my dog lick my hands?
- How to prevent my dog from licking my hands?
Why do dogs lick you?
The origin of licking behavior is innate and derived somewhat from the behavior of wolves that, although they are not their direct ancestors, they did have a common ancestor.
One of the main social characteristics of wolves and that has been transmitted to dogs is that they go hunting in a group, as we explained in this other article about ¿How do wolves hunt? In fact, canids are group hunters and not solitary like felids. These group hunting parties they can take them to travel long distances, away from the den where the group's puppies were sheltered. The latter anxiously await the arrival of the adults. When the group has had a successful hunt, the animals eat voraciously and ingest as much food as possible. This ancestral behavior can be carried out thanks to the anatomical peculiarity of the stomach of the species that allows this organ to act as an internal market bag, being widely dilatable and expandable.
When the puppies become aware of the arrival of the supplying group of adults, they hurry and excited from the burrow and begin to compulsively lick the snouts of adults hunters. These incessant licks generate in the adult animal a nervous reflex that stimulates a certain area of the brain that induces and causes vomiting and the consequent regurgitation of the previously swallowed food, and that is when the puppies begin to feed. It is easy to imagine how quickly this habit is fixed in the brains of puppies.
Finally, this licking behavior when the animals cease to be puppies is maintained as a form of respect and submission towards the highest ranking members of the group. This is the real origin of "kiss ”of the dogs. A behavior that shows submission, respect and affection.
Why does my dog lick my hands?
Knowing the origin of the licking behavior of dogs does not explain why they do it with some certain people and with others not. The answer is so simple that it becomes somewhat complex. It is a mixture of inherited behavior that the animal keeps in some hidden place in its brain and learned behavior that was taught, often involuntarily, by its human caretaker. Let's see what does it mean for a dog to lick your hands:
- Loves you: one of the main reasons why a dog licks his hand is to demonstrate the affectionate bond he feels towards his human guardian. Although they do not feel that it is a "kiss ", as we humans understand it, they do know that it is a behavior that we like, so they will continue to do it.
- Wants to get your attention: a reason a little related to the previous one. If your dog feels that you like him to lick you, he will do it whenever he wants to get your attention. In this other article we show you other things that dogs do to attract attention.
- He is afraid of you: when the lick is weak and careful, it can also mean that he is afraid of you, so he shows you his submission in this way.
- Cleans youDogs are very clean animals, and the way they clean themselves is through licking. If your hands are dirty, your dog can lick them clean as a token of affection on his part..
- Wakes you up- If you've fallen asleep or asleep and your dog needs something, like going for a walk, he can try to gently wake you up by licking your hand, face, or ears.
In any case, whether or not a dog licks the hands of its guardian is not a parameter to take into account when trying to evaluate the affective involvement of a dog with its human companion. Obviously, the dog that licks the hands of its handler has a high degree of bond with it, but the most important thing is that if it does not do so, it does not want to express otherwise..
On the other hand, if the licking is excessive, we advise you to read this other article about My dog licks me a lot - ¿Why and what to do?
How to prevent my dog from licking my hands?
In this case, the behavior of the animal must be taken as something to be corrected and then the work of making the dog unlearn what it has learned must begin. It is not an easy task, but neither is it impossible.
It should start with not reward this behavior in any way, Of course, never punishing them, since that type of reprimand will not benefit our dog nor will he understand why we are scolding him. Instead, it is better to opt for the positive reinforcement to be able to redirect their behavior little by little.
If after a while your dog continues licking your hands, we advise you to go to an ethologist specialized in canine behavior.