WHY IS MY DOG OBSESSED WITH LICKING ME?
As a dog parent, what better way for your dog to welcome you home than with some slobbering kisses. The general impression is that your dog licking you is a sign of affection from them. Others see it as the closest a dog can come to kissing you but is this impression true? If you have a dog that licks you constantly, you will be asking yourself “Why is my dog obsessed with licking me?”
Well, the truth is that our dogs may lick us for so many reasons apart from trying to be affectionate with us. Another truth is that it is us as dog parents that will put a gauge on how much a dog can lick on us. This simply means that what one dog parent considers excessive might be very acceptable to another dog parent. Licking us is instinctual for dogs, it helps them to release endorphins and calms them down.
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So if you believe that your dog is licking you excessively and you are asking yourself “Why is my dog obsessed with licking me? Here are some answers for you.
Your dog is grooming you.
“My dog won’t stop licking me” you say. Well, your dog may just as well be grooming you.
Dogs normally groom each other. If you have two or more dogs in your household or are observant of any time dogs come around each other, you will notice their obsession with licking each other. They would lick their faces, they would lick their bodies, they would lick their ears and they would lick areas that we won’t mention here. The more invested they are in licking each other, the more likely they have developed a strong bond with each other or are in a pack and are getting along well.
Switch to the human counterpart, which is us. Our dogs may be licking us in a bid to clean us up. It is worth noting that what we refer to as grooming is not what our dogs refer to as grooming. For dogs, the closer we are to our natural state, the more groomed we seem to them, which means to them no soap, deodorants, colognes, and things like that.
Your dog is grooming you to get the best version of you from his or her perspective, so next time your pooch starts giving you slobbering kisses, understand that it is coming from a place of care and treat them accordingly.
You taste good.
Are you just coming from the gym or had a sumptuous, tasty meal? Your “dog licking excessively suddenly” on you, in this case, might be that you taste good and they want to get in on the action. Does this leave you a bit confused? Don’t be. You see dogs love the salty taste. Our sweat is made up of salt and acidic chemicals. These two give a delicious taste to our dogs.
When we just come out from the gym or had that good early morning run, we are very sweaty at that stage. That is a lot of salty, delicious sweat for our dogs. Your dog would certainly be obsessed with licking you at this stage. You can compare it to having access to your favorite food or drink, the only way you can reject these is if you are feeling unwell.
Please note that there are some creams that give of smells that are attractive to dogs but can be poisonous to them, as a rule of thumb, do not allow your dog to lick you if you are wearing a cream or lotion.
They are checking you out.
Your favorite pooch might be licking you at random in a bid to check whether everything is ok with you. You can compare it to when a mother is checking on her child that just escaped from danger. She looks all around the child to see if any harm has occurred to the child.
Dogs do not have the luxury of hands to hold us and check us out, but they have their eyes, their heightened sense of smell, and their sense of taste. When they need to inspect something, they are heavily dependent on their sense of smell and taste. So if your dog believes you were in danger of being hurt, a quick sniff here and there and licking you around would help them determine if you are ok.
They want attention from you.
“Why do dogs lick you when you pet them?” They lick you as a way of reciprocating the attention they get from you. If a dog licks you and you pet them in return, you are making him or her understand that such behavior is allowed and even rewarded thereby reinforcing the act.
Anything that gets a dog attention would rank high on his or her things to do, so be assured, that they will keep on licking you as far as the outcome of the licking is positive.
They are showing affection to you.
One of the ways a dog shows affection to his or her pet parents is by licking them. This goes back to the very beginning of a dog’s life. As puppies, they receive affection from their mum by the way she licks and grooms them. This gives them a feel-good feeling, even as they grow up, licking helps them to release dopamine and endorphins into their system, allowing them to feel relaxed and happy.
All their life they would have associated this action with affection and it has been giving them good feelings, so the logic that follows it would be if they should lick you. You should also get a release of the feel-good hormones and feel relaxed, happy, and calm. This might not be the case, but it is certainly what your dog would be thinking.
Your Puppy is hungry.
Yes, puppies can lick you obsessively if they are hungry so if you have been asking yourself “why does my dog lick me after eating?” or “what does it mean when your dog licks you in the mouth?” Well, your dog is trying to tell you that he or she is feeling hungry.
You see when dogs were in the wild, a dog with puppies would go out to hunt. When she returns from the hunt, her puppies or young do would start to lick her mouth. This act was a way to get their mothers to throw up some part of her hunt for them to feed on. Now that sounds disgusting but it was done out of the need to survive.
Fast forward to today, puppies and young dogs still exhibit this habit. Yes, there is no need for their mum to throw up food, but it has become a sign that they are hungry and want to be fed.
Your dog has medical issues.
Your dog may be obsessed with licking you due to an underlying health condition. This licking might not be just you, it can also be themselves or other surfaces. Medical conditions like Bacterial, parasitic, or fungi infections. Pain from injury or arthritis and allergies can lead to your dog licking you, themselves, or other surfaces. There is also the possibility that this behavior is due to an allergy that the dog has.
Like we said earlier, your dog gets a release of dopamine and endorphins into their system, these hormones are natural pain killers and also help to soothe and calm down your dog, making it easier for them to manage any discomfort they might be feeling.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Why does my dog lick me so much in the morning, afternoon, or night? Your dog may be suffering from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder also known as OCD. This disorder is usually linked to anxiety and stress that has lasted for a long time, this leads to the dog licking themselves, anything around them, or even you as the dog parent.
This excessive licking can lead to them having sores on their tongue. Even though this behavior is compulsive, using interruption patterns like introducing a toy in the mix, getting them to obey some command, or even taking them on a walk around the house can help deal with the issue intermittently.
Medication and pattern interrupts dealt out with kindness usually handles this disorder, but it has to be under the strict guidance of a vet doctor and an animal behaviorist.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DOG TO STOP LICKING YOU
The whole aim of your dog licking you is to elicit some kind of reaction from you. Now, whether the reaction is positive or negative, your dog will still see it as a good thing, even though they would prefer a positive interaction more. No reaction is not liked at all by dogs and that is what we aim for when we ignore them.
This we can do by first removing the part of the body they are licking out of their reach. Do not make any eye contact or initiate any form of communication. Just move that part of the body away from them and remain neutral. If that does not work, leave your current spot to another spot in the room. If that still does not work, remove yourself entirely from the room or the space where the dog is. With time, your dog will come to connect you abandoning them to them licking you.
That should be enough motivation for your dog to stop this habit.
Work on redirecting their attention.
This would be a follow-up to ignoring them. Keep in mind that this behavior in most cases is borne of instinct. Keeping away from your dog might not do all the trick. So you may need to redirect their attention to other things when they try to lick you. Some of the things you can do to redirect their attention are:
i. Provide alternative playthings: Toys work well for this purpose, kong toys, chew toys, puzzle toys, etc. can work very well in redirecting your dog’s attention from licking you to playing with the toys available.
ii. Exercise: Your dog licking you obsessively comes from the excess energy and unreleased stress they have in them. Exercising your dog will help to burn up this excess energy and release the stress your dog is experiencing thereby reducing the need for your dog to lick on you.
iii. Training: If you have not started yet, begin training your dog in basic commands, come, sit, heel, etc. If you have already taught your dog some basic commands, you can start training them on more complex ones. Every training you give your dog puts him or her on the path of being disciplined.
Reward acceptable behavior.
Rewarding your dog for good behavior helps to make sure your dog behaves the way you want it to. Using praise, giving your dog attention when they do what you want, and rewarding them with treats are all part of the Positive reinforcement technique which brings out the best in your dog.
Take your Shower Regularly.
Doing this reduces the salty sweat which your dog craves and gives your dog one less reason to obsessively lick on you.
Remain Consistent in your approach.
Once you start the process of training your dog to stop licking you. It is a must that you remain consistent in the training. If you don’t, you will only leave your dog confused. Whatever boundaries you set at the beginning of the training, you need to follow the same throughout the process.
There is also the option of training your dog in other ways of showing love and affection like hugging and cuddling with each other.
Contact a Professional.
When all fails get in contact with a professional, some dog licking although rare can bother near plain insanity. A behaviorist is likely to be your best bet in dealing with issues like this.
Hi, I am Charles Nwankwo Editor-in-Chief, Mydoggything.com. Gleaning from Professional Dog Trainers, behaviorist, Registered Veterinarians, and Breeders. We are passionate about making dog care easy for you. My job is to make sure that you get the best-updated dog care information to understand and take care of your dog or dogs.