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Why Do Dogs Lick?

(December 8, 2010)

Why do dogs lick?

Dog licking is a way for your pet to express itself with people. You may have noticed that your dog licks you and other family members as a gesture of appeasement and goodwill. They may lick their own lips or may lick a person to whom they wish to signal deference. Licking the human face is universal to all dogs irrespective of the sex and breed. When your dog licks your face, it is gleaning information about you from the pheromones excreted by the sweat glands in your skin. Dogs like the taste of the sweat on our bodies. That’s why they like weird places like the palm and feet.

Licking is a very natural behavior for dogs and begins in puppyhood. Puppies will lick their littermates to groom one another.

The common reasons for dog licks are:

• Licking is a submissive social signal. Puppy licks serves as a social function that strengthens the bond between littermates.
• Puppies lick to solicit solid food from their mothers.
• Maternal licking also helps the puppies bond with their mother. The pleasant feeling of their mother's grooming is carried into adulthood, and they try to share those positive feelings with us.
• Dogs lick to show their affection and friendliness as they would with littermates.
• Dogs lick more dominant dogs as a sign of respect or deference.
• They lick for exploring things or trying to find out more about a person.
• A dog licking its feet is probably just doing some normal cleaning.
• Dogs may lick your bare foot to show that he wants attention or wants to be friendly. To discourage the behavior, try ignoring your dog whenever it begins licking, or offer your dog a toy to lick instead.
• Boredom may also be one of the reasons of dog licking. A dog left alone all day, or in a crate, may become frustrated and resort to licking its paws to keep itself occupied.
• If a dog is nervous or stressed out for any reason, they may lick their lips and bite on their feet or legs while they groom themselves

 Though dog licks are harmless, but excessive licking can be problem. Compulsive licking by dogs is not always self-directed. Some dogs take to licking floors, walls, dirt, carpet or furniture. 

Dog licking may be cute and adorable at times but they can also get annoying. One thing you should always bear in mind is that any behavior can be trained. If your dog constantly licks himself or herself, you must get your pet checked  by a veterinarian.

Submitted by N M on December 8, 2010 at 11:24


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