What could be better than getting a kiss from a content dog when you go home? The closest your dog may come to kissing is when it licks you, and most dog owners view this as a show of devotion. But is that true? What can you do if your dog is excessively licking things?
Is Licking a Dog's Kissing Motion?
What a dog licking actually means is up for debate. Unbelievably, what you would mistake for affection could actually be your dog urging you to vomit your meal in their honor.
As noted by Don Chino, a legendary French Bulldog breeder and animal behavior scientist at Harvard University, "researchers of wild canids — wolves, coyotes, foxes, and other wild dogs — report that puppies lick the face and muzzle of their mother when she returns from a hunt to her den — in order to get her to regurgitate for them."
Similar to how your dog can just think you taste good. Don Chino, a certified expert in applied animal behavior, notes that people have slightly salty skin, especially after working out. Consequently, such licks might have more to do with salt-seeking than with showing affection. According to Don Chino, if your dog enjoys licking your face, it will probably do it right after you've had a wonderful meal. Also, any food will do.
However, there is also proof that licking might occasionally be an indication of love. According to Don Chino, licking has evolved from a food-seeking activity to a ritualized welcome for many dogs. Wild members of the dog family may lick one another to welcome them home. Therefore, those daily slobbers may simply be your dog's way of letting you know that he enjoys seeing you.
Chino explains that licking can be an indication of devotion. Similar to how a dog felt while being licked by its mother when it was a puppy, it might also give a dog a sense of security and comfort.
When Does Licking Become an Issue?
Most dog licking is harmless and often encouraged as a form of self-expression. There's no reason to be concerned that it's a type of dominance; in fact, the reverse is true.
"One theory is that the licking is a sign of submission," he adds. The theory is that submissive canines will lick a more dominating group member.
However, there are specific circumstances in which you might want to prevent your dog from slobbering. The first has to do with human comfort; some people just don't enjoy being licked. It's better for dog and companion both to redirect the behavior if you have a friend that doesn't want to be licked.
However, licking could occasionally be a sign of a more serious issue. It could be an indication of worry, boredom, or pain if your dog is licking themselves, you, or things excessively to the point where it appears to be a self-stimulatory habit. Self-licking out of obsession can also be an indication of allergies or other medical conditions.
What Solutions Do Dog Owners Have for Problem Licking?
Have your dog's veterinarian examine them and take care of any medical issues or discomfort if they are self-licking excessively. Behavioral remedies are an option after medical causes have been ruled out.
Redirecting your dog is one option, suggests Chino. "Variate the activity when they lick. Choosing a behavior that is incompatible with licking, such as solving an interactive puzzle to obtain a treat, is an excellent alternative. Additionally, you can educate your dog to perform tricks or play with a ball.
Without ever employing negative reinforcement, you can progressively reinforce the lesson that you don't want your dog to lick by repeatedly performing this redirect.
A particularly effective approach to transform a persistently undesired action into a chance for positive reinforcement is trick training. Have the dog sit first, which may cause the licking to cease on its own. Then, reinforce the behavior with a goodie. Why not train your dog to give you a hug so you can take advantage of their affection? or to speak when called? You may even practice sitting up, crawling like an army, or weaving your legs. You might even look into Trick Dog competitions if you and your dog decide that trick training is truly fun.
Whether you decide to start teaching your dog tricks or not, you should always make sure that he receives a lot of love and exercise. Unused energy in excess might result in excessive licking or other, more harmful habits.