If your dog has been licking your wrist 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 you can do about each of them.

So, why does my dog lick my wrist? Possible reasons why your dog licks your wrist are that it has learned that the behavior is rewarded, it is looking for extra attention, it is showing affection, or that it is excited.

There are actually a number of possible reasons why your dog has been licking your wrist and it might be due to a combination of them. However, there are a number of things you can consider when figuring out the main cause and there are a number of things you can do about it.

Reasons why your dog licks your wrist

Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog licks your wrist and what would make them more likely.

Encouraging the behavior

It could be the case that your dog has learned that it gets rewarded when it licks your wrist. If you tend to give it things such as toys, treats or extra attention, when it licks your wrist, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.

Instead, it would help to reward it while it is not licking your wrist and to stop giving it rewards as soon as it starts trying to lick you.

It wants attention

The cause 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 tend to give it more attention when it does it.

Instead, it would help to give it attention throughout the day by playing with it, training it and exercising it but to avoid rewarding it with attention when it licks your wrist by redirecting its behavior when it starts.

Boredom

It could be the case that it is bored and looking for ways to stimulate itself. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more before getting exercise. It would help to ensure that it is able to get the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed. If it is already getting a lot of exercise, another way to stimulate it would be to give it training.

Affection

It might also be the case that it does it because it is being affectionate. When it’s licking you it’s letting you know that it trusts you and that you are a part of its tribe. This type of licking is normal and will often happen when you try to pet it.

Grooming

Dogs will often groom themselves by licking. They will also groom others such as when a mother dog licks her puppies. This is could be why your dog has been licking your wrist. This would be more likely if it tries to lick you when you are not petting it.

Nature

When dogs are young, one of the first ways that they will explore the world is by licking and sniffing things. If your dog is a puppy then it is likely to be the case that it is exploring when it is licking your wrist. The habit of licking things will stay with it as it gets older which is why they will naturally lick quite often.

Excitement

The reason why it licks your wrist could be that it is excited. This would be more likely if it tends to do it in situations where it gets very excited such as when you come home or when it is going out for a walk.

In this case, it would help to avoid doing the thing that it gets excited about and to wait for it to stop licking your wrist before continuing.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.

What else happened when it started

If your dog did not always lick your wrist, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it since it might be the case that there was an event that caused it to start.

If it started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as learning that it gets rewards for doing it or if you stopped giving it as much attention causing it to do things to get you to give it more attention.

What is different when it does it

It would also help to consider if there is a certain time that your dog tends to lick your wrist. If it tends to do it more when you arrive home, it would be more likely to be due to things such as excitement and it would help to ignore it until it stops licking and then to reward it for not licking.

What to do about your dog licking your wrist

Below are a number of options you have when dealing with the behavior.

Avoid encouraging it

As mentioned above, it could be the case that your dog has learned that it gets rewards for licking your wrist. It would help to stop giving it rewards or attention, when it starts licking your wrist, then to give it attention again once it has stopped.

Give it training

Positive reinforcement training is where you get your dog to do things that you want by rewarding it for doing them or showing signs of doing them.

To use positive reinforcement training to get it to stop licking your wrist you would:

  • Stand up turn away and hide your wrist when it starts licking your wrist leaving the room if necessary.
  • Wait a few moments and then go back to giving it attention and then turning away again if it starts licking your wrist
  • Repeat the above until it learns that licking your wrist causes it to lose your attention
  • Reward it with a treat when it does particularly well

Distractions

In addition to the above, you could also try giving it things to be distracted by such as bones or toys so that it is less likely to start licking your wrists.

Redirect its focus

Another option would be to redirect its focus onto something else, such as a toy or bone, when it seems likely to start licking you. Doing this should help to get it out of the habit of actually licking you.

Give it attention throughout the day

It would also help to give it attention throughout the day so that it is less likely to try to get attention from you. Ways to give it attention would be to train it, exercise it and to play with it.

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I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.