If your dog has been licking you a lot you might be wondering why and what you can do about it.
This post will show you a number of possible causes and what would you can do about it.
So, why does my dog lick me so much? Possible reasons your dog licks you so much are that it is being affectionate, excitement, it’s grooming you, anxiety or you might have been rewarding the behavior.
There are actually a number of possible reasons why your dog does it and it could be a combination of multiple reasons. However, there are also a number of things you can consider when trying to figure out the exact reason.
Why your dog could be licking so much
Each of the different reasons why your dog does it will likely come with some clues.
Below are a number of possible causes and what would make them more likely.
Dogs will often groom themselves by licking themselves. They will also groom other dogs such as when a mother dog licks her puppies. This is one reason that they will lick you too.
The reason why it does it could be that it is being affectionate. This would be more likely if it does it in response to you being affectionate towards it such as when you are petting it. When it’s licking you it’s letting you know that it trusts you and that you are a part of its tribe.
The cause could be that it is excited. This would be more likely if it does it more in situations such as when you have just come home or when you are about to take it for a walk.
Hunger or dehydration
The cause might be that it is hungry or thirsty. This would be more likely if it starts licking other things as well such as areas where there has been food and if it starts licking its lips a lot. If you think that this is the cause then give it a bowl of water and some food. If it drinks the water quickly then it probably was the reason.
Stress or anxiety
The cause might be that something is causing it to be anxious. Situations, where this is more likely, would include when it’s recently had a stressful event occur such as when a family member has gone away or if one of your other dogs has died. It can also be the case when it has been mistreated in the past and it copes by licking a lot.
The cause might be that it is understimulated. This would be more likely if it is a breed that is meant to get a lot of exercise on a daily basis and if it does it more when it has not gotten much exercise. In this case, it would help to make sure that it is able to get the recommended amount of daily exercise.
When you’re sick you can get a bad taste in the mouth, this can happen to dogs too so the licking could be its way of getting the taste out of its mouth. This would be more likely if it also licks other things a lot such as the floor. If you think that this might be the case then take it to the vet and make sure that it has access to water.
Dogs will start to lick things before they’re even able to open their eyes so they will naturally begin to explore the world using their tongues. This habit can continue into adulthood causing it to naturally lick things quite often.
The reason why it licks you might be that it is looking for attention. This would be more likely if it does it more when you have not been giving it much attention and if you give it extra attention when it does it.
In this case, it would help to give it attention throughout the day by playing with it, exercising it and training it. But, it would help to avoid rewarding it with extra attention when it licks you.
It’s still young
Puppies tend to be a lot more excitable and curious and they tend to lick more because of it. If your dog is still young then it’s likely that it will calm down as it gets older but you should still take the time to train it now so that it’s better behaved as an adult.
Rewarding the behavior
It could be the case that you have encouraged it to lick you more by giving it things that it wants when it does it. If you give your dog things such as extra attention, toys or treats when it licks you then it will likely do it more in order to get more of those rewards.
Instead, it would help to reward it when it is well behaved and to avoid rewarding it when it licks you.
How to get your dog to stop licking
Below are some options you have when getting your dog to stop doing it.
Don’t reward it
One option would be to avoid rewarding it when it does it. By doing so you should be able to teach your dog that licking you does not result in it getting things that it wants. One way to do this would be to get up and turn away from it when it starts licking and to avoid giving it attention until it calms down.
Reward it for not licking
It would also help to reward it when it does not lick but it normally would. By doing so you should be able to teach it that not licking results in it getting rewards. If it does start to lick, you would stop rewarding it until it stops licking.
You can watch the video below to see how to do it.
Give it lots of exercise
Since a lack of exercise could be contributing to it, making sure that it is able to get the recommended amount daily exercise will likely help. You can give it exercise by walking it yourself or you could get a dog walker to do it for you.
Get help from a vet
If you can’t figure out why your dog has been doing it or it has been licking things excessively it would help to get the advice of a vet. By doing so you will be able to get expert advice tailored to your particular dog and to rule out the possibility of it being ill.
Give it toys
In addition to the above, you could also give it things to be distracted with so that it is less likely to feel the need to lick you. Things that you could give it would be toys, puzzle games or bones.
When training your dog it is important to be patient. It is unlikely that you will be able to achieve big results with just one training session but if you stick with it you will be able to get much better results over the course of weeks or months.
Things to consider
When it first started doing it
It would help to consider when your dog first started doing it since it could be the case that it started due to an event that occurred.
If it did start licking you suddenly it would be more likely to be due to things such as getting rewarded one time when it licked you, getting less attention from you suddenly or having less access to water. It would help to consider what else changed when it started doing it.
When it does it more
It would also help to consider whether or not there is a certain time that it tends to lick you more. If there is then it could be the case that the timing has something to do with it.
For example, if it licks you more when you get home then it would be more likely that it is doing it due to excitement.
Don’t let it lick your face
Even though you’ll often find that dogs will try to lick your face a lot especially when they get excited you shouldn’t let it do so. The reason being that your dog could have been licking something that has germs and you’ll be risking letting those germs spread to you.
It helps to start young
It’s tempting to brush puppies licking off as being due to age but you should make sure to start training your dog at a young age. Puppies will be more responsive and they will be more willing to let you change their behaviour. If you wait until it’s older then it won’t be as responsive to you and it will be harder to change its habits.