Dogs lick your face, the floor, the couch … and each other. They can be licking machines! But not all types of licking are created equal. Here’s a bit of insight into what the behaviour means — and when it can be problematic for your canine.
Why dogs lick people
There are many reasons your dog is giving you a slobbery kiss. Affection is one — puppies are licked by their moms for comfort. Your puppy may lick you to show affection and get comfort from you when he’s young, and that behaviour can carry on into adulthood.
You also just might taste good! After you eat a meal or get out of the shower, your dog may try to get a taste of that delicious hamburger scent on your chin or that new soap smell on your arm. If you don’t want your pal to lick you, walk away when he tries. He’ll get the idea that licking won’t get him attention.
Why dogs kiss other dogs
“Kissing between pups often means affection. They may lick each other’s faces during play, or to get a taste of what their pal just ate! Licking can also signal deference. Keep an eye on the behaviour — if one dog’s not into it, he may ‘correct’ his pal with a growl or a snap, and you may need to step in.”
--Dr. Vickie Carmella, Director of Veterinary Affairs, Blue Buffalo
When licking is a problem
If you see your buddy licking the same spot over and over again, it may be a symptom of an underlying issue. If your dog licks his paws obsessively, he could have a yeast infection or allergies and could use a visit to the veterinarian for a checkup.
If your pup is constantly licking the furniture or the floor — or his paws after you’ve ruled out a health problem — this could be a sign that he’s bored, anxious, or stressed. Give him something to do when you catch him licking, like an interactive toy or a puzzle game. Daily exercise may also help burn some pent-up energy. If you’re still concerned with your pal’s licking behaviour, it’s always a good idea to check with your vet.
Whether it’s a kiss on the cheek or cleaning up crumbs on the floor, sometimes licking is just part of the package when you’re a Pet Parent to a canine!