Everyone has experienced a licking attack, whether it was on the way home or just sitting on the couch. But why do our pets lick our face? That's the question we've all asked ourselves after getting a big lick on the forehead, but that's not why we've had our long-awaited answer. Well, the day has come for you to finally discover the reasons for all those licks!
1/ They investigate
A dog's tongue is full of sensors (truffle - truffle ;) ), which means that his taste and smell are linked and work together to provide information about his environment. When he licks or smells you, it allows him to understand where you have been and what you have been doing.
2/ They like the way you taste
Our skin, especially when we've sweated, can taste quite salty and some dogs love it. We may also have touched some food and your dog may have smelled it...
3/ He is bored and wants attention
Licking can help release endorphins (the happy hormone) when your dog is lonely or bored and can help him feel comforted. The licking session usually ends with a response from us. And, even if it's a negative response from us (asking him to "get down" or "lay down"), the desired outcome for him is still there: attention.
4/ They communicate
When dogs lick people's faces, they are trying to determine the person's intent, to let you know that they mean no harm or that they are safe. This comes from when they were puppies. A puppy will lick its mother's face to instinctively ask for food. This behavior has evolved from the days when dogs were wild wolves. A mother wolf would regurgitate the food she found while hunting for her pups and the pups would lick her face to ask for food. Fortunately for you, you don't need to go that far...
5/ They groom you
Since they have a much better sense of smell than we do, they can smell dirt or something that shouldn't be on you and want to help you remove it. Their tongue has antibacterial properties, which is why they lick their own fur, but it's a myth that dog saliva is antiseptic. Dogs' mouths, like ours, contain both bad and good bacteria.
6/ They love you
The first thing a mother dog does when her puppies are born is to lick them clean of their amniotic sac, so they can breathe and get blood flowing through their bodies. Licking then becomes an act of affection between dogs and the humans they trust.
My dog licks excessively, what should I do?
If your dog is licking excessively, licking you, or licking an object, especially if it's in a specific area and repeatedly, have your dog examined by a veterinarian to rule out any medical issues. Once you have the green light, you can focus on redirecting this habitual behavior.
A good place to start is to distract him with an activity where he can't lick himself. For example, playing ball or doing an interactive dog puzzle that ends with a treat. He will then begin to associate not licking with a reward! But never punish a dog for licking. Dogs don't understand punishment, it will only scare them or make them anxious about you. Positive reinforcement and praise is the gentlest method and most likely to achieve the desired result when encouraging a new or different behavior in a dog.