Doggy kisses are a part of life for most dog owners. Some people embrace the slobber. Others prefer that their dog keep their tongues to themselves. But licking is something that all dogs do, for lots of different reasons.
Today, let's look at why dogs lick and see what experts have to say about dog licking.
Why Do Dogs Lick?
Dogs lick for lots of reasons. It starts when they're puppies, with their moms licking them clean and bonding. As they grow, licking shows things like affection, respect, and a way to say "I trust you" when they lick your face.
It's also their way of exploring, since they have a great sense of taste and smell. They can taste changes in our skin, sense how we're feeling through our sweat, and even tell where we've been or what we've eaten. So, when your dog licks you, it's part of how they communicate and show love. Other reasons that dogs lick us includes:
- Because they are nervous
- As a sign of submission
- Because they are bored
- To get attention
- To relieve stress
- As a social greeting
So, now that you know why dogs lick, is it ok for them to be licking us? Let's see what the experts have to say!
According to Judy Korman, DVM, dogs have about 600 kinds of bacteria in their mouths. But infections from dogs are rare. In most cases, it's ok for your dog to lick you. But of course, there are some exceptions.
First, if you have a health condition that impacts your immune system, you shouldn't let your dog lick your face. Also, if you are allergic to dog saliva, don't let your dog lick you.
Some dogs like to eat their own feces or those of another animal. There are some germs that use this as an infectious path. Parasites, as well as some bacteria and viruses, can transfer from dogs to humans. But usually, if people get sick from dogs, it's from bacteria that transfers during a bite. Not a lick!
Another vet, Jennifer Bruns, DVM, notes that it is very rare for people to get sick from dog licks. This is because their saliva doesn't absorb through your skin. But to be safe, she also recommends that you wash the areas your dog was licking afterwards with soap and water.
How To Deal With Dog Licking
If you have a dog that likes to lick, it's important to teach them when it's ok to lick and when it's not. Licking is generally safe, but not everyone likes it. Keeping your dog clean and healthy is also important, as they explore the world with their mouths and can come into contact with unsanitary surfaces. Brushing their teeth can help.
To train your dog to stop licking, use a simple command like "stop," "leave it," or "no licking." When your dog obeys, reward them with a treat, praise, or pats. Consistency is key in shaping your dog's behavior.
💡 BONUS TIP: It's also important to pay attention to why your dog is licking. Sometimes they might be trying to communicate something to you. Ignoring this can lead to other undesirable behavior, like barking loudly.
Should I Let My Dog Lick Me?
Whether you enjoy your dog's licks is totally up to you. Some folks love the affection of puppy kisses and feel closer to their furry friend through them. It's a special moment when your dog shows you love with a happy wag and some licks.
If you're not a fan of being licked, that's perfectly fine! There are plenty of ways to bond and show affection without it. You don't have to accept licking if it makes you uncomfortable.
But understanding why dogs lick can help you decide how you feel about it. It's all about making the choice that's right for you and your dog when it comes to their licking.
Remember that every pup is unique and shows their affection differently. You should show affection, too- but not by licking! Instead, playing with your dog or going on a nice walk is a better idea.
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