Believe it or not, there are multiple reasons that dogs lick us. It’s not only because they love us, but there are many other reasons they lick us… and everything else!
Why Does My Dog Lick Me?
Dogs lick humans for all different reasons – to greet them, bond with them, and even sometimes to signal that they need some distance from them. The reasons why a dog will lick people varies from dog to dog, so if your dog isn’t a licker don’t take it personally. If your dog is an enthusiastic greeter, the chances are you’ll always get some tongue when you get home!
Licking releases a lot of endorphins into a dog’s system, and that kind of contact does the same for people.
Some of that licking is also tasting, as tears, sweat, food, oils and other things that accumulate on our skin during the course of the day can be very enticing to dogs.
Why Do Dogs Lick Each Other?
Most of the same reasons apply for dog-to-dog interactions, though for casual greetings tasting will be more of the focus of activity. Dogs will lick each other’s mouths, ears and butts. Prolonged licking isn’t usually well-tolerated by the other dog, and shouldn’t be encouraged as it can quickly turn into a doggy fight.
Mothers will lick their very young puppies a lot, because it stimulates important physiological functions such as respiration. It also helps to clean them.
Why Do Dogs Lick Themselves?
Grooming and cleaning are the most basic reasons for dogs to lick themselves. Licking injuries increases circulation and the dog’s saliva contains properties that are anti-bacterial. Licking themself is also soothing.
When Is Dog Licking Excessive?
Normal licking for grooming and cleaning should be a finite activity, but if it routinely continues past its original purpose it can cause both physical and behavioral problems. Obsessive self-soothing can result in raw spots and perpetually irritated or open wounds; if you see that your dog is licking or chewing the same body parts all the time, take them to your veterinarian to check for underlying physical issues.
Like so many things, licking is fine in moderation! Just keep an eye on it and realize there may be more to it than a simple greeting!