Often, you're sitting working at your computer or watching TV on the couch when suddenly, you feel your dog gently licking your leg. He may lick fast or slow, but he just seems to have an obsession with it. You're wondering: What is this strange dog behavior?
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While the act of licking your legs might seem odd, there is likely a perfectly logical explanation for why your dog is doing it.
Here are some of the reasons why dogs partake in casual or excessive licking of dog owners.
He’s showing affection
Your dog loves you, so he's licking you as a sign of affection, according to the American Kennel Club. In the wild, some species in the dog family will lick pack members as a way of welcoming them back home. Your dog could be overjoyed to see you when you get home or just start licking you randomly to demonstrate his love. You could pick him up and cuddle him when he starts licking you to show him you care about him, too.
Licking releases endorphins
When dogs lick, it releases endorphins, which give the dog a sense of comfort, according to Animal Planet. It's kind of like when people bite their own nails. It makes your dog feel less stressed out. If h's anxious, he may lick you in order to feel better.
He likes the salty taste
Dogs like the salty taste of your skin. You may notice that your dog licks your legs a lot of after you exercise. That's because your legs will be extra salty after a good workout.
He likes the taste of lotion
Dogs have a habit of licking lotion. They may like how it smells and tastes, according to the Huffington Post. For instance, vanilla or coconut oil-based body lotion might be appealing to them. However, you should keep your dog from licking your legs if you have lotion on them because it could be harmful to him. Lotion contains a bunch of different ingredients that could upset your dog's stomach and cause vomiting, lethargy, or other health issues. If you've just applied lotion, it's best not to let your dog near your legs.
What to do if you don’t like the licking
If you don't want your dog to lick your legs anymore, you could simply get up and leave the room without responding to this dog behavior, according to Animal Planet. That will signal to your pup that when he licks, it means you're going to get up and leave, which is probably the last thing he wants.
Another way to get your dog to stop licking is to redirect him. When they lick, you could throw a ball instead or hand over his favorite toy.
You could also do trick training, where you tell your pup to sit and then give him a treat. Just remember that negative reinforcement is not advised because it doesn't work for dogs. They always need positive reinforcement instead.
What to do if your dog is licking excessively
If your dog won't stop licking your legs no matter what, he could be dealing with a medical issue. It's best to take him to the veterinarian, who can evaluate if your dog has a health problem or is experiencing anxiety.
Your dog may be licking your legs for a number of reasons. He could like the salty taste of your skin, be showing you a sign of affection, or trying to comfort himself. If he's excessively licking, make sure you ask your veterinarian to do an evaluation to rule out any medical issues.