Admit it, this situation is familiar: after a fun walk, you sit on the couch and watch a movie. Your Australian Shepherd comes to you and starts licking your hands. You‘re not a big fan of it, but still don‘t want to reject it. After a while the dog jumps and starts to lick your face. When you try to push it off, it tries even harder. And it happens every time you give a dog tenderness!
Dogs lick their family members for a variety of reasons. Mother’s licks their child from birth – encouraging them to breathe, cleaning, improve digestion. Wild and domestic dogs tend to lick tribal muzzles to get food.
After all, it is also a gesture of humility – a more humble member will lick more dominant ones. Naturally, the tongue is one of the main means of communication between the dog and the environment. As a result, we need to understand that he will also be involved in interacting with us. However, if you do not like such an act and want to change it, you need to find out the reasons for it.
From an Early Age Licking for Dogs Is Like a Social Interaction
Licking is one of the first social interactions dogs get to know. Shortly after birth, the mother dog licks her puppies extensively. This is for bonding, keeping the puppies clean and massaging the stomach after meals. The puppies imitate this and lick each other off as well. From this point onwards, licking is part of a dog‘s behavior. Some dogs continue to use it with pleasure as they get older and others rarely use the tongue. Whether your Australian Shepherd expresses its affection by licking is a matter of type.
Why Does My Australian Shepherd Lick Me So Much?
There are various reasons why your Australian Shepherd show its tongue. If you pay attention to the rest of the dog‘s body language and keep an eye on the entire situation, you will understand your Aussie better. Then you can optimally assess why your dog is licking you. Below we will share some of the main reasons why dogs want to lick.
Dogs use their tongues to get to know the environment. Dogs have special receptors in the nose and mouth that can interpret molecules in sweat. This way the dog can find out if you are relaxed or maybe you are feeling stressed.
When a dog licks a bowl or crumbs from the floor, we do not turn our heads as to why he does so – after all, it is so clear that it is delicious for him. Our skin also has a taste – it consists of salt and small particles of food, which the dog may like. Some quadrupeds are attracted to body lotions and creams.
Dogs, like cats, take good care of their fur. Sometimes animals lick themselves in an attempt to clean up dirt or care for wounds. Dog saliva contains enzymes that kill bacteria and help remove dead tissue and dirt. However, an overly violent lick can indicate health problems. Contact your veterinarian if you notice excessive licking of the same object or body part. While licking can be a normal way to „take off“ stress, obsessive licking only exacerbates it and makes the problem worse. If the dog licks the wounds too actively, it is also not good as it does not allow them to heal properly.
Licking is a normal form of communication, but it will not always convey the same message. Dogs lick other dogs in an attempt to tell a multitude of things, such as reporting hunger, humility, or simply inviting them to be friends. They say the same to people, but usually we don‘t interpret messages so well. If the dog licks you too intensely, look around – maybe something is wrong, run out of water or your pet wants something.
Dogs can also lick people by taking their place in the social hierarchy. They lick those to whom they show respect and humility. Active licking can also be a way of playing – during a game time it is one of the options not to use teeth.
Desire For Attention
The need for attention is the most common cause of licking. The first time dog licks a human being, he will notice that he laughed, was satisfied – that is, he will realize that he has paid attention. When the dog feels that licking a person causes pleasure or earns a pat, the dog will tie it up. Also, the dog will lick the human just by showing that he likes him. When a pet licks „out of love“, it releases endorphins, which makes it feel calm, safe and comfortable. Unfortunately, people sometimes get too much of it. Licking of the face and lips is most common in young puppies, but it can also be seen in adults.
In some cases, active licking indicates a dog‘s anxiety, self-doubt. For example, if you see a young animal licking not only the faces of people, but also the muzzles of other dogs with which it has no strong connection, it redirects its attention, so go with it somewhere else and offer a stress-free activity. Dogs suffering from certain disorders may be prone to particularly active licks.
Request For Food
The weaned wolves when they are hungry – sneeze, rage and lick the face of their mother or other senior gang members until they swallow food. Lower-ranking animals may thus request a higher share of prey. In some cases, an active attempt by a dog to lick a human mouth may be a request for food in animal-acceptable form.
What If You Don‘t Like That Dog is Licking You?
In most cases, dogs licks so they could get the attention. Your Aussie knows that this way he will get the attention of you or any other family member. However, this should not be encouraged, especially if you don‘t like that.
One way to stop a dog is to let him know that licking will not get him what he wants. For example, if a dog wants attention, even by trying to push it away, you give him what he wanted. In this case, it is better to go to another room – the dog will understand that licking means that he remains alone. If the „tactic“ you have chosen does not work, it is best to contact behavioral specialists, coaches or trainers
Can Dogs Transmit Disease Through Licking?
Some people like their dog licking them off, others find the licking rather disgusting. Especially when the dog‘s tongue runs courageously through the face. However, contact through the mucous membranes of a person‘s eyes, nose and mouth should be avoided. This means that the dog does not transmit any pathogenic germs.
Even if infection is rare, if your dog has licked your hands, you should wash them before preparing food or rubbing your eyes. This hygiene rule should apply particularly to people with a weak immune system and children.
As always, encourage desirable behavior and ignore undesirable behavior. If you don‘t like licking, you should teach your Australian Shepherd this from a young age. If you won‘t pay attention to him when he is licking, he will notice that you don‘t like such behavior probably stops doing that.