You’re taking a moment to relax in front of the television. The family dog wanders over to you and plops down at your feet. Your furry canine friend begins to lick the exposed skin on your leg and continues until you’re all slobbered up. The licking continues until you feel that your skin has been cleaned to the point where it may disappear. Have you ever wondered just what your dog gets out of licking you?
Most dogs are so intent on the licking process that you know there has to be a good reason for doing it.
Some people say the dog’s licks are canine kisses that prove the dog likes or loves you. Fido is showing you that he cares about you. While this may be one reason that dogs lick people, it is clearly not the only reason why they perform this act.
Another theory is that dogs lick you because they were taught to do so by their mother from birth. Female dogs that give birth lick the new puppies to stimulate them to start breathing and to clean them up. Licking is important to the survival of puppies. The licking process is a natural instinct that they quickly learn from their mothers.
Licking is also a submissive gesture. In the wild, the more subordinate dogs will lick the more dominant ones. This helps to maintain harmony among the members of the pack. By licking you, the dog is showing you that you are the dominant being and you are in charge.
Another reason that dogs lick humans is to gather information about them. Dogs use the scent receptors located in their nose and mouth to process information about a person. A person who is secreting sweat from his or her body is actually unknowingly sending information about him or herself to the dog. This is one reason why a human’s feet are so attractive to a dog. Human feet contain many sweat glands. Eccrine glands release moisture that contains salts, water and waste products. Some dogs love the taste of salt.
Sebaceous glands, which are found near hair follicles, release sebum. The combination of the sweat and sebaceous gland secretions provide a lot of detail about you to an inquisitive dog that can tell if you are afraid, stressed or happy.
Dogs also enjoy licking because the act releases endorphins that allow the dog to feel pleasure and a sense of security and comfort.
In some cases, a dog will go all out to lick his or her owner’s face, hands or legs when strangers are around. Experts believe that this could be the dog’s way of showing that you are important to them and that they care more about you than they do the stranger.
While dogs do have good reasons for licking people, some folks don’t understand nor do they care to try to grasp why they are being slobbered on. It is important to train your dog in a manner that he or she does not get carried away with the tendency to lick people.