It’s a common thing that dogs love to cuddle. And the owners enjoy pampering them too. These are animals that will openly show you their love and affection. However, it often happens that a man does not understand the best what their pets want from them when they start to lick their face, hands, and legs. You assume that this is one of their funny ways to show you their love, but you often wonder why they express such emotions by licking.
Their senses are sharp, and dogs use them to maximize their knowledge about their owner. Licking is, besides sniffing, one of the ways for a dog to get to know the environment, other pups, and his owner. In this way, your pet will remember your smell, but also the taste.
This activity is inherited to every dog right after birth; puppies’ mom communicates with them by licking. Also, in this way, she cuddles and cleanses them. So licking remains rooted in the behavior of a dog throughout life.
What My Dog Is Trying to Tell Me
There is a logical explanation for this behavior of your pet. The puppies come to the world deaf and blind. The sense of taste is, at first, the only way in which pups learn about their mom, each other and the environment, as long as they do not develop other senses.
However, licking as a way of communicating between dogs continues throughout life. We have to point out this is not a pattern; by licking the owner, the dog wants to tell you several different stuff – from greetings, expressions of respect, to fear and concern for your safety. Learn how to “decode” what your beloved furry buddy wants to tell you with its tongue.
A Sign of Loyalty
Dogs are very faithful, but also quite possessive about their human or human’s family. You may notice that your pet intensifies the licking of your face and hand when someone unknown is by your side. It is, among other things, one of the ways your pup is marking his property – you. Also, your pet is showing to “a stranger” that he is loyal and that he will defend you if there is a need for it.
However, if your dog always does it, both in society and when you are alone, it is his way to show that you are important to him and that he will take care of you. It is known that dogs are real friends and they like to be with the owner. When they lick your hands or face, they want to show their love, but also that they respect your authority. You are not just the owner; you’re the boss.
Dogs show their loyalty from the time when they were in packs. Since each dog group has an alpha male, licking is a way of showing commitment. And since now you are an “alpha owner,” the dog believes that he has to show you his respect and loyalty in this way.
Dogs Explore the Environment with Their Sharp Senses
The dogs’ sense of taste is, as with all living beings, associated with their sense of smell. And if it is known that a dog’s smell is sharper than in humans, we can assume the same thing with their taste. Dogs do not use this sense just for eating. Through sniff and taste, these animals explore the environment, especially when unknown fragrances intrigue them.
The dog quickly becomes accustomed to the usual smell and “taste” of its owner. However, you will also see how fast your pup will notice your new cologne or shampoo. Do not be surprised if your pet comes to you and lick you all around the face, right after you have finished with showering.
Your pup knows it is you; it’s just those new, unknown fragrances that “bother” him. So he just wants to lick the new aroma from your face. Maybe he won’t like those new tastes of you, but he will remember them.
Dogs are doing this just with their owners. They are not into licking faces of the unknown people. Nor anyone unfamiliar will let the dog to lick their faces. The introducing usually start with hands. Licking faces of new people will come later, eventually.
Like all living beings, dogs have the needs that their owner must meet. If your pup has good manners, he’ll show you he’s hungry in a subtle way (bringing his food bowl, for example). Or he’ll wait for you to remember to feed him. You are the boss, and he does not want to bother you.
But if you didn’t train your dog how to ask for food from an early age, he could be spoiled and unbearable as an adult. Depending on how your pet was fed before you took him, licking your face often means that your dog is hungry. If you didn’t correct this behavior, your pet can behave pretty disturbing.
Let’s go back to the inborn behavioral pattern of dogs. While they are tiny and still unconscious of the world around them, the mother feeds the puppies. Therefore, they contact with the tongue. This way, puppies learn to show that they are hungry by licking their mother’s face.
Such behavior remained intact in the genetic code of every dog, which considers the owner to be the feeder now. So when your pet starts lick your face, offer him food, if you didn’t feed him for a while. If your pet doesn’t want to eat, then he just wants to cuddle or to get your attention.
Don’t Give Treats
You’re watching TV and your pup stars to lick your face. And maybe you forget that you fed him recently, so you give him food again. And if you do this every time, your dog will get used to being treated every time he licks you. No matter how much you love your furry buddy, you shouldn’t pamper him this way. Especially, if you don’t enjoy his slobber all over your face.
How to Learn a Dog Not to Lick You
No matter how much we love our four-legged friends, there are people who find this way of expressing emotions not so pleasant. Then your dog must be aware that he shouldn’t lick you. But you have to allow him showing his affection in some other way.
Dogs are licking us because we have the taste they consider pleasant. We sweat, and that gives salty, sour flavor of our skin that pups like. Also, the tastes stay on our mouth and fingers. So, if you want a dog not to lick your hands and face, make sure to wash out all food leftovers.
Licking stimulates the development of endorphins, which makes dogs happy and excited about licking you. But if you want to point him out this behavior is not acceptable, try to stay calm when he starts to lick your face.
You have to show him that you do not like it, but don’t be rough. Do not push your pup away or yell at him. Just be cold-blooded, and continue with the usual activities. Do not say anything or look at your dog. Without giving him attention, your pet will stop doing this.
But as soon as the dog stops licking your face, show him that you’re happy with his behavior and give him attention. It will thus teach that licking is not something you like. Since you’re the “alpha male” in your mini pack, your pet won’t lick you anymore, in order not to make you mad.
Is Licking Harmful to Your Health
The claim that the human mouth is dirtier than a dog’s mouth is not exactly the truth. We “share” many diseases, and the food for dogs is pretty much unacceptable for people. Not to mention that dogs usually eat from the floor and ground.
Although animal lovers claim that dog’s spit has antibacterial effects, you shouldn’t let your pet to lick your face; especially if you have open wounds on it (like those after-shaving cuts). Likewise, a dog should not even lick itself if it has bloody injuries. Take him to the vet before it gets infected.
Dog’s saliva is not harmful to human health, but it is not too hygienic to let the dog lick your face. First and foremost, your pet likes to put his nose everywhere, sniffing and licking all kinds of stuff. In no time, he can bring a mass of bacteria and viruses to his owner, especially to young children, whose immunity has not yet been developed.
If you feel like you need some love, a few dog licks won’t hurt you. However, do not train your dog to do this all the time. There are many more hygienic ways for your four-legged friend to show you his love, to attract your attention and to gather new information from the environment.