Every morning I get up to my Chocolate Lab/Terrier stretching upwards putting his paws on my shoulders and plants a kiss on my face. At first, it seems so precious and loving. But the next thing you know, I’m getting a slimed with dog slobber! What IS that tacky, gooey stuff made of anyway? Why does my dog lick me? Those are excellent questions with multifaceted answers. Most of us have encountered this licking behavior from their beloved canine at one time or another. They worship the ground you walk on. Licking out of love and affection causes your dog to physically release those “warm and fuzzy” endorphin’s that calm them down and makes them feel good.
We Need to Talk
Just as a human baby cries to express their needs, our dog’s licking can communicate their wants and needs. Examples of this would be that they’re hungry, thirsty, desire attention, or they have to go to the bathroom. They rely on us to pick up on their cues. It’s simply their way of “speaking” to you in the language that they know.
Dogs frequently lick to clean themselves. My dog has a nightly ritual to clean his “essentials”, ears, and bum. He then burrows under the blankets, takes a deep sigh and drifts off to sleep. It’s important to note that if your dog is constantly licking their bum, their anal gland may need to be expressed, or possibly suffer from allergies. If this happens, consult with your veterinarian, and/or groomer.
You Taste So Delicious
Dogs tend to be that four-legged vacuum cleaner, taking care not to miss a single crumb. It’s a little known fact that dogs possess five taste receptors on their tongues. Three of those taste receptors are sweet, bitter, and savory. Thus sometimes, we just taste like that delicious cheeseburger that we had for lunch. The remaining two taste sensors are salt and acid, which dogs crave and are present in our sweat.
Pay Attention to Me
The same thing happens every night… I sit down to relax and watch TV and the incessant licking starts. It’s like an annoying dripping faucet. Licking can be a healthy stress reliever for dogs, but enough already! Repetitively licking can be a compulsive issue. Pay close attention if it appears that they are scared or anxious. Obsessive licking reinforces anxiety. Training can be your best asset to correct this behavior.
My Personal “Boo-Boo Fixer”
When dogs lick themselves, or you, it helps to get rid of dead tissue and to clean dirt from wounds.Their saliva contains natural enzymes that kill off bacteria. It also contains harmful bacteria and parasites that can adversely affect children, elderly and folks with immunosuppression. Prudent care is recommended in these circumstances.
It’s important to note that some dogs don’t lick much, if at all. Often you will see this abused, neglected or adopted dogs. Trauma, as with humans, can cause them to be shy or timid. It doesn’t mean that they don’t love you. They just need time, compassion and the ability to be themselves.