Dogs have funny habits. Sometimes they kick while they're sleeping, other times they drag their butts on their floor and at any given time, they just love to cuddle with anyone and anything.
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But one of their more puzzling habits is licking. They'll lick the floor, lick the air, lick an injured paw and lick inanimate objects. It seems as though their licking is completely random. While most dogs will lick your face, others may lick your hands, your arms, your feet and legs, too.
You've probably noticed that when you get back from the gym or an especially tough workout, your dog loves to lick your sweat. You're wondering if this is normal behavior or if you should see a veterinarian about it. Rest assured, the licking is completely natural, and there are scientific and instinctual reasons why your dog is going crazy over your sweat.
Why dogs lick humans
There are many reasons why dogs lick humans. First of all, licking is how dogs communicate with us. They may be signaling to you that they want more food, they are feeling affectionate towards you, they want to play with you or they need to go to the bathroom. If you pet your dog while he licks you or say something in a sweet tone while he is doing it, he will know that's how he should communicate with you in the future and will continue the behavior.
Another reason dogs lick is for grooming purposes. When your dog was little, his mama licked him to ensure he was clean. Your dog learned this behavior and is trying to ensure you are clean and well-groomed, too.
When your dog was a puppy, he also learned that he should lick his mother's mouth in order to get some regurgitated food. This is what puppies do when they are transitioning from drinking their mother's milk to eating food. When he licks you around the mouth, he's telling you he's hungry.
If your dog is feeling anxious or nervous, he may lick you. If he is licking you too much or licking other dogs constantly, you should take him to the vet to see what can be done about his anxiety.
Licking is also a sign of respect, and it shows that your dog is submissive to you. Dog trainer Victoria Stilwell says that in the wild, the subordinate members of a dog pack will lick the more dominant members, which aids in maintaining harmony for the pack.
Why dogs lick sweat
The fact is, dogs like the taste of salt. Even if you're not sweating, your skin may taste like salt to your dog, which is why he's licking you. When you sweat, the salt from your body is very apparent on your skin, so your dog goes right for it. If you don't want your dog licking you after a workout, you could keep your distance or make sure you shower before going near him again.
Should you let your dog lick you?
Usually, it's fine to let your dog lick you. As long as you are a healthy person, it shouldn't do any harm. The only thing you should watch out for is an open wound. If you have one on your body and your dog licks it, his saliva could ensure the wound stays moist and open, which could cause more bacteria. This could lead to a skin infection, which might be harmful.
You also shouldn't encourage incessant licking. If your dog is obsessively licking you and other creatures, make sure you bring it up to the vet.
Otherwise, enjoy the doggy kisses and affection!