Some pet owners may love it, but many of us are annoyed when our dogs repeatedly lick. Excessive licking could be a sign that your dog is stressed, anxious or in pain. More than likely, it’s not a cause for concern. If you’re wondering why does my dog lick so much, there may be more to the answer than you expect.
I have three dogs, and only one of them is a repetitive licker. This got me thinking about why some some dogs lick a lot and others don't. I'm a curious pet owner, and enjoy knowing as much about my pets' behavior as possible. If you're like me, you probably question most of the things that your pets do.
While researching this topic, I found out that there are a number of reasons why your dog may lick a lot. I also found out that it’s not uncommon for dogs to lick bedding, furniture, blankets and other objects.
It's likely that this strange behavior isn't anything to be concerned about. You can also check out this video for information on other common strange behaviors seen in dogs.
While it may be annoying, it's probably just your dog’s way of trying to get your attention, soothe himself or just to show affection. In rare cases, it could be a sign of an underlying health problem. Keep reading to answer the question “why does my dog lick so much” and find out how to make him stop.
Why Does My Dog Lick So Much?
The most obvious answer to the question why does my dog lick me so much is that your pet is simply trying to show affection and/or bond with you. Mother dogs lick their puppies to clean and care for them or to show affection. It's your dog's natural instinct to show you affection in the same manner.
2. Anxiety or Stress
Many animals will lick when stressed or anxious. This behavior is seen in rats, dogs, cats and many other animals. This may be the case with your dogs licking behavior, especially if it has started spontaneously or isn't observed very often.
Some dogs are more easy going than others. If your dog is easily stressed by changes in his environment, it is possible that licking is just a manifestation of his stress.
If possible, find the source of the stress and remove it. If the licking has started spontaneously and you can't find any source of stress or anxiety, I would recommend checking in with your veterinarian just to be on the safe side.
When your dog licks you, you probably respond by showing him some sort of attention. You may pet him, talk sweetly or snuggle him when he begins to lick you. Over time, this attention will condition your pet to lick you in order to receive your undivided attention.
If this is the case, you can stop the behavior by doing the opposite of what you would normally do. When your dog licks you, ignore the behavior. Move away from him without speaking, touching him or showing any kind of attention. Over time, this will condition Fido to understand that licking will only push you away.
4. You Taste Yummy
This is a pretty obvious answer to the question why does my dog lick me so much. Your pet may like the salty taste of your skin. You may have lotion, topical products or food remnants on your skin that are appealing. Washing your hands should stop the behavior if this is the case.
SIMILAR: Why Does My Cat Lick Me?
5. To Make You Feel Better
A study done in 2012 asked dog owners to pretend to cry in order to record the dog’s reaction. Researchers found that dogs are more likely to lick or nuzzle their crying owner than they were when the owner was just talking or humming. For dogs, licking is a comforting behavior. If your dog wants to show you empathy, he may be licking you in order to try to make you feel better
6. To Show Submission
There is also research that shows that submissive dogs lick the dominant dogs in their pack. Licking you may be your dog’s way of showing you that you’re the leader of the pack.
Dogs groom themselves and the other members of their pack by licking. As pet owners, we try to take care of all of our pets’ needs. Did you ever consider that they are trying to do the same thing for you?
While your dog can’t feed you, he can do his best to keep your happy, protect you and even keep you clean. His constant licking may be his way of trying to groom you on a regular basis.
8. Medical Problem
It's not likely, but licking you could be a sign of an underlying medical problem. While it’s rare, some dogs suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder. It is typically caused by long-term stress or anxiety issues. OCD may manifest as repetitive licking of humans, other animals or objects.
Nausea or stomach pain could cause your dog to lick and/or drool excessively. Repetitive licking may also be a sign of allergies, anxiety or a stress disorder.
If the licking starts spontaneously or seems to get excessive quickly, it's best to check in with your veterinarian. As I said, this is not a likely cause of licking, but it is possible. It would be better to have your dog checked by your vet just to be sure that everything is fine.
If the licking behavior annoys you, it's easy to get your dog to stop. Ignore the behavior. Walk away from your pet when he begins to lick. Cover your skin when possible with long sleeves or pants.
If your dog typically licks bedding, furniture or other objects, you can try to distract him by playing with him or offering him a snack.
You'll need to be patient, because the behavior won't stop overnight. But, over time, your pet will begin to learn that you don't enjoy this behavior and he will stop. Keep in mind that if the licking is caused by stress or a medical condition, you'll need to treat the underlying cause before the behavior will subside.
READ NEXT: 25 Most Common Dog Behavior Problem