Why do dogs lick people?

Why Do Dogs Lick People?

Today we are going to talk about a very interesting question about dogs. It ranks as the second highest question people search for on search engines: Why do dogs lick people, is it bad, and can we do something about we connect and communicate with animals through our understanding of their behavior?

      Many studies indicate that it is common for us to misunderstand dog’s behavior and this is one of many points which can make us cruel to animals. While sometimes we don’t know what animals are communicating to us, we think that we know the meaning of their actions and behavior resulting in ignoring, punishing, or reinforcing their own behavior. One of those main behaviors and actions are licking. The common assumption is that when a dog licks your face or your hand it is because he loves you or because he or she likes salty surfaces. This thought could lead to a misunderstanding of your dog and his behavior creating skewed reinforcement patterns. The main misconception is that dogs lick people because they like the taste of salty skin. According to many references, dogs don’t crave salty food. Dog’s taste buds are arranged differently than humans so they don’t taste salt the way we do. Another common misconception is by licking dogs release endorphins which is a natural hormone in our body and in dogs as well. Falsely informed articles state that it is stress and anxiety within dogs that creates the urge for them to lick. And while that claim sounds almost correct, there is no strong medical evidence or reference to prove it.

       There are three main reasons why dogs lick people, and understanding them is very important for a better understanding of your dog. So what is the proper answer to that question? Let’s find out the main reason why!

Number one: Communication.

One of the ways dogs use to seek attention is licking. One of the ways dogs seek the attention of their companion humans or the attention of other animals is by licking. Dogs adapt and learn in a remarkable way and they will associate your response to their actions and learn from it so if you don’t like your dog licking, simply give a negative reaction or no reaction when licked. Then give him a good reaction when he does not do it. A dog wants you to show interest and a companionship.  Therefore, they use an object and in some cases, they can use licking to say that they appreciate your leadership. Which means you can safely say that your dog likes you because he is somehow liking you or loving through his demonstration of licks.

Number Two: Medical Reasons.  

We have three points to talk about here. The first one is 
irritating spots, which means an itchy spot and his or her skin those itchy spots he feels like he wants to scratch them and he used looking to scratch these spots. The second point here is pain, which is a mild or a weak pain so if it’s an area they usually don’t lick you should pay attention to other signs of pain on them. The third point and the medical reasons for licking, is licking an injury or a wound. There is a lot of argument about if this is a good thing or a bad thing to do but as far as you are concerned you should call your vet about this. As making injuries or extremely itchy spots could turn into chewing parts of their bodies like their paws or the pads of their paws which is a nasty thing and could cause a big problem.

Number three: Obsession or Obsessive Behavior.

Dogs can get obsessed with licking as they will associate the good feeling coming from licking. The good feeling coming from endorphins or the good feeling coming from your attention can be associated with licking so it becomes an obsessive behavior. This behavior can carry on as normal; however, with enough reinforcement, they can get obsessed. If licking becomes an obsessive behavior it’s usually not a good thing and may need to address. Skin injury conditions could result and so on. Thus, you try to prevent your dog from obsessively licking or you should call your vet about it.

       Of course, there are more reasons away from these three main reasons we talked about, but they all come under the same categories. So if you understand these points you know to understand the rest of what’s happening with your dog. Please pay attention to any changes in the skin color, skin texture, or hair loss and any injured areas. If you recognize an obsessive pattern make sure to contact your vet.

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