Some say that a dog licking your face is an indication of just how fond it is of you. It shows that you are its most trusted companion that you simply won’t see your pet licking other people’s faces. But why do dogs really love to lick our faces? We’ll explore some of the common reasons why they exhibit such adorable yet quite peculiar behavior.
They Like What They Taste
Haven’t you noticed that your pet loves to lick your face especially if you just arrived home from work or even from the gym? One of the most common reasons why our pets lick us is because they like the taste of our skin. It’s not really that they like it, but they are somehow intrigued by the varying degrees of saltiness in our skin. Remember that dogs use their mouths to explore the world around them and that they are more at peace if they can smell the scent or taste the tang of their owners.
They Love the Feeling of Being Rewarded For It
Try to recall the last instance wherein your pet actually licked you. Now try to recall how you responded. If you’re like any other pet owner, you would surely respond by petting it, giving it a vigorous rub on its back or even a gentle pat on its head, or even give it its favorite treat. The point is that there is a reaction from you and most of the time this reaction is something that is amazingly pleasant for them. Thus, pooches learn that if they lick you something good will definitely happen. It’s their way of getting rewarded for their behavior.
It Allows Them to Show Submission
Pet psychologists and dog behaviorists believe that the licking behavior of dogs can be traced to their ancestor’s way of signaling leaders of their pack to start distributing or regurgitating the prey that is in its mouth. By licking the pack leader, they are essentially telling it that they are now ready to receive their share of the food. The same behavior has been considered as a sign of submission or of acknowledging the superiority of another. It wouldn’t be surprising to see domesticated canids to be licking other dogs as well as their human masters as a sign of acknowledgment of their superiority over them.
May Be a Sign of a Health or Behavioral Issue
While licking can be taken as something largely positive, it can also signal a fundamental concern. Dogs that have skin allergies or any other skin condition such as itching tend to lick the affected part. Animal behaviorists also say that incessant licking in the absence of any verifiable skin condition can be a sign of obsessive compulsive disorder or anxiety in dogs. Whatever the reason, it would help if your veterinarian can take a good look at it.
Dogs love to lick us for a variety of reasons. Generally, it is to show their appreciation and recognition of our being their pack leader and to feel great doing it through the positive reinforcement they receive.
- Mary Robins, Why Is My Dog Licking Me?, The American Kennel Club