All dogs are different, even those of the same breed. However, there is one constant with almost all dogs, and that’s a dog’s going to lick.
Whether it’s his feet, his privates, other dogs, even their owners, they lick. It’s not all capriciousness on the part of the dog. Much of it is nature, a little is about grooming, and some of it can be sign that things might not be exactly right.
Here are five reasons your dog licks.
They learned it from their mothers
When a dog first leaves its mother’s womb, it gets its first experience with licking. The mother dog will lick her newborns in order to clean them, but also to stimulate their breathing.
The puppies also get a sense of comfort and reassurance, much the same way human babies are comforted by their mothers’ cuddles and strokes. They are forming a bond, and the babies — human and canine — find it comforting. It is something familiar and soothing.
The puppies soon starts licking back, and in that way, they learn to recognize their mothers and siblings.
It’s a status thing
There is a pecking order, so to speak, among dogs, and dogs below the alpha show their loyalty and submission to the lead dog by nuzzling the face and licking the head and paws.
You just taste good
Our dogs often will lick our hands and faces. They are showing affection, but honestly, they also do it because we taste good.
They like the taste of salt on our skin, or the remnants of food on our hands and faces. If you’ve been eating chicken and wipe your hands on your pants legs, a dog will lick those, too.
It feels so good
Dogs also like to lick their own paws and sometimes their privates. It’s what makes them feel good and is a way to comfort themselves if they are sad or hurting.
It all goes back to those first moments with mom, when the touch of their mother’s tongue brought them happiness and the feeling of security.
Licking of their genitals, although we might not like to think about it or see it, is also a natural think most dogs do, and as long as it doesn’t become an obsession, there’s not need to worry about it.
Time for an intervention
Dogs that obsessively lick could require some help. Obsessive licking is as sign that the dog is bored and needs more stimulation.
It also could be an indication that the dog is injured or hurting, or if they have a skin allergy. Dogs often lick at sore or itchy spots or places that ache, so if there’s no other explanation for the licking, you should check the dog and see the vet.
Habitual licking can become destructive and damaging as the dog licks away its fur and irritates its skin, often to the point where sores and blisters appear. You should definitely take the dog to the vet to determine what is going on.
5 reasons why your dog licks so much