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The behaviour of licking.

The behaviour of licking.

Our beloved dogs have all kinds of unique behaviours. From those of us that have had dogs for years of our lives to those who are just a few months into their first, these different behaviours become more noticeable and we do not always know the depper context to these. Today this post will take a dive into the simple behaviour of a dog licking.

 When you say hello to a dog what’s the first thing you do? Chances are you stroke them. Our need to use our hands and touch their fur comes naturally to us and is a form of grooming. Dogs groom with their tongues, and so licking is their way of greeting, bonding and showing affection. We explore the world with our hands, while dogs use their mouths and tongues to help them understand their environment, and to assess the mood of others. Whether that’s licking your face to greet you and assess your mood, carrying things between their teeth, or playing with toys or balls. Some dogs tend to lick less than others. This does not necessarily mean a dog is less affectionate. They might have just learned things differently as a puppy or they simply don't prefer licking.

If the excessive licking is on you or another pet, this is likely behavioural. Many dogs lick as an affectionate way of showing the person or animal that they're fond of them. She might even be picking up on your behavioural cues and attempting to calm or soothe you! Her mom licked her when she was a puppy, and now she wants to do the same to show companionship and caring

 It’s very normal for puppies to lick both humans and other dogs when they are saying ‘hello’. This is usually accompanied by lots of sociable and excitable tail wagging and body wiggling. As puppies get older they tend to do this less, but if the licking receives lots of attention then it’s likely to remain a big part of their greeting behaviour. Dogs also learn that it’s a great way to get attention at other times if we smile and stroke them when they lick us, then we easily reinforce this behaviour. Following on from this point, licking is a great way to get the attention when your dog is hungry. In the wild, young dogs may lick their mother’s lips when they return from a hunt to show that they’re hungry. This instinct is hardwired into your dog’s behaviour and they may lick you to let you know they’re feeling hungry.

 Another reason dogs lick you: They want to see how you taste. Once that dog gets to licking you, they might realize you have an intriguing flavour. Dogs love anything that has an interesting taste. Plus, licking is a way for your dog to explore their surroundings and that includes yourself. Though ensure that is this becomes problematic for yourself or children, to either start training your dog away from this behaviour or redirect this desire for taste with the use of toy, like a lickimat, and apply a applicable tasty treat to it.

 For dogs, licking can be a soothing behaviour that helps them feel calm, relaxed and more at ease. If they’re feeling worried or stressed, particularly if they have separation anxiety, then licking you, or themselves, might help them feel less anxious. However If your dog has suddenly started licking themselves a lot then more than regular then there are a few things to consider. Obsessive licking can be a sign that they are stressed or anxious, or could suggest that they are in pain, feeling nauseous, uncomfortable or itchy. Licking is soothing to dogs and may help to make them feel better. Dogs can sometimes lick themselves so much that they damage their skin. They may also lick or chew an area that is a little distance from the site of irritation. If you believe that your dog is beginning to obsessively lick, then either seek the advice from your vet to ensure it is nothing further medical related or in the event of increased anxiety begin utilising a natural calming remedy.

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