If your dog is licking their bowl, the floor after a spill, or the counter after you’ve been cooking, you might pretty easily come to the conclusion that they simply like the taste. But did you know that the same thing can be true when they’re licking us? Sometimes we have tiny food particles that they can taste, and beyond that, dogs enjoy the salt on our skin.
You might not think of your pup as particularly concerned with hygiene, but dogs often lick to clean themselves, just like cats. Pay close attention, though, because excessive anal cleaning can indicate that the glands need to be expressed.
Dog saliva has enzymes that kill off bacteria, and when a dog licks himself, it helps to get rid of dead tissue and clean dirt from wounds. Some dogs, however, just can’t stop themselves and may actually reopen wounds or cause other kinds of harm through excessive licking.
Dogs lick other dogs to tell them all sorts of things: everything from “I’m hungry” to “I submit to you” to “Let’s be friends.” They do this with people as well, but we’re typically not as good at interpreting the message. If your dog is licking you with intensity, take a look around and see if something is amiss. Maybe the water bowl is empty or the doggie door is closed. Chances are your dog needs something.
This is the most common reason that domestic dogs lick and tends to be the kind of licking most pet parents want to change. Licking for affection causes your dog to release pleasurable endorphin’s that calm and comfort them, but sometimes it can just get to be too much for people. If you want your dog to stop, ignore them and walk into another room whenever it begins. Eventually they will learn that licking causes you to leave, which isn’t what they want.