We love our dogs and we know they love us too but why do dogs lick you and is that their way of giving you kisses? It’s widely believed by many that dogs lick their owners to show affection, but it’s not the only reason.
It’s not a harmful behaviour so it’s nothing you should worry about. But if you are curious and want to understand the behaviour then keep reading to find out more.
Why do dogs lick you?
As far as instincts, go licking is one of the most natural things your dog can do. Sure we imagine cats doing this more often, but dogs do it just the same. Dogs experience a release of endorphins when they engage in licking and studies attest to it.
It thus makes them calmer and encourages relaxation. Usually, dogs will lick various things not all of which will look delicious. So when your dog licks you what exactly does it mean?
There isn’t one reason for why do dogs lick you.
We often say that our dogs lick us as a form of affection but as that may be true it’s not the only reason. It’s a way to communicate, a form of grooming, a way to seek attention and because they like the taste.
Don’t be scared that your dog will want to eat your hand, they’re not going to, so don’t fret.
As puppies, the momma would lick its babies to clean and engage with them just after they are born. This is also how she teaches them to do their business. It’s a very early form of communication so it’s natural that dogs will have this instinct carry over when they grow up.
Let’s also consider that dogs don’t have hands to grab stuff with so they’ll use their moth to interact with objects, and so their tongues too. Dogs even lick each other to create a sense of bonding or appeasement, and that same concept might apply to their owners.
Another reason for why do dogs lick you might have something to do with smell. Dogs have far fewer taste buds than humans and as such they use their sense of smell to compensate. Licking a surface can increase its smell and deems it good for eating or at least more appealing.
Is it safe when your dog licks you?
A dog licking a person does not pose a danger to you, but even so, exercise caution and common sense. Yes, you should wash your hands, face or whatever other part your dog decides to lick. Bacteria is still present and you should be safe, regardless.
How to control your dog’s licking behaviour?
Since dogs have this instinct you can use it to redirect them at something like a lick mat. Put some ripe smooshed banana, yoghurt or peanut butter and let them go nuts. It’s a way to let them have an outlet for this need to lick stuff, and it’s done in a controlled way.
Why do dogs lick you – conclusion
Dogs have a variety of reasons for why they lick you, but most of them are harmless. It’s important to make sure that they don’t go anywhere near anything that might be toxic to them.
Licking is usually an instinctive behaviour and dogs use it to communicate and even enhance certain smells and tastes.