If you’ve ever had a dog lick your legs, then you probably know how it feels. Warm, soft, and comforting in some ways, but a very strange feeling in other ways.
While most people think this is a dog’s way of showing affection, there are actually many more reasons behind your canine friend’s actions.
Here’s The Short Answer to Why Your Dog Licks Your Legs:
It can be a sign of affection, as some pet owners feel obligated to reciprocate the lick by hugging their dog or giving them a treat which further reinforces the behavior. But licking doesn’t always indicate happiness with another person or dog. For example, you may notice your dog doing this when he’s feeling stressed or anxious. There are other explanations, too; some say that the taste of our skin or the salt in our sweat can be appealing to them.
Let’s explore some other reasons for this behavior, as well as how to get rid of this habit if you don’t like it.
1. Your Dog Is Showing Affection
The first and most obvious reason is that your dog is showing some form of affection towards the person. Think about when we give hugs and kisses; we’re showing our love and appreciation for another human being.
Even though our dogs can’t hug or kiss us as we do with each other, licking someone is one of their ways on how to show affection.
Just like how when we greet people with a hug or kiss, dogs do the same thing. They lick our legs or other parts of our bodies as a way to show that they are happy to see us.
2. Your Dog Is Trying To Get Your Attention
Your dog might do this when he feels neglected. Dogs are very social beings, so the lack of interaction with their owners can make them feel lonely or alone. This is especially true for dogs who are left alone at home most of the day.
So don’t be surprised if your dog immediately goes after your legs or other parts of your body when you get home after a long day at work or school. This is his way to ask you to play or interact with him.
3. Your Dog Is Showing Submission
Submissive behavior is something that pack animals like dogs do. They lick the more ‘alpha’ or a dominant dog as a sign that they aren’t a threat, and so this could be a reason why your dog licks you as well.
He may see you as a dominant figure and doesn’t want to challenge you or give any indication that he is a threat. Licking is one way that dogs show submission.
There are also other ways that dogs show submission to their pack leaders, such as lowering their bodies to the ground or even rolling over and exposing their bellies.
4. Your Dog Sees Wound On Your Skin
You may have a wound on your leg, and your dog is instinctively trying to clean it as he would for his own wounds or other pack members.
Dogs have incredibly sensitive noses, and they can smell the slightest scent of blood. So, just like how we tend to our wounds with bandages and ointments, licking your leg is one thing your dog will do naturally when he notices a wound on you.
Although your dog does this solely to help you, it’s not recommended that you let him lick the wound because it could get infected. Instead, you can gently push your dog’s head away or distract him with a treat, so he stops licking your wound.
5. Your Dog Is Trying To Groom You
In their natural habitats, dogs will clean each other by licking the fur and skin of their pack members to remove dirt, dead skin cells, and debris. This is something that they have learned from their dog mom since they’re born.
Because you’re part of your dog’s pack, he may feel compelled to lick you too to clean you. This could be the most likely reason if you have just come back from a run or have just returned home after being outdoors and there are much dirt and debris on your legs.
6. Your Dog Likes The Taste of Your Skin or Sweat
Some owners may notice that their dogs usually lick their legs when it’s hot outside as the salt from our sweat is more pronounced during these times. If your dog also tends to do this, it’s possible he likes the salty taste of your skin or sweat.
The lotion that we use to moisturize and scent our legs may also be a factor as it can have strong flavors that can also be appealing to our dogs, such as vanilla or coconut.
However, you should keep your dog from licking lotions off your legs as these products can contain a bunch of different ingredients that could be harmful to your furry friend when ingested.
7. Your Dog Wants To Know Where You’ve Been
Dogs have a very keen sense of smell. They want to know where you’ve been and what you’ve done throughout the day. One way for them to gather this information is by licking your legs.
As you walk throughout the house, your dog will lick your legs to get a whiff of where you’ve been and what you touch during your day. This makes it easier for them to know if there are any new or unfamiliar scents they need to investigate.
8. Your Dog Is Hungry
It could be possible that your dog licking you is his way of asking for dinner. Because he can’t communicate with you verbally, licking your legs could be a way for him to tell you that he’s hungry or needs food now.
This licking behavior may be accompanied by whining or barking, both of which can be a nuisance if it is done excessively. This is why it is important to establish feeding times and stick to them, so your dog knows when to expect food.
9. Your Dog Has an Anxiety Problem
According to some experts, the act of licking is a calming mechanism. When your dog licks, his brain releases endorphins, a hormone associated with relaxation and happiness. This hormone will be produced no matter whether your dog is licking himself or you.
There may be many things in your dog’s daily life that causes him to feel anxious such as thunderstorms, fireworks, and strangers coming to the door. So if your dog’s licking your legs appears to be a nervous behavior, explore the possibilities of what may be causing these anxieties.
Should I Be Worried If My Dog Licks My Legs?
Licking is perfectly normal behavior for any pet, not just dogs, to exhibit as long as it doesn’t cause an annoyance to your day-to-day life.
If you don’t mind your dog licking your legs, it’s not a problem. Just make sure, however, that your dog doesn’t lick your lotions or other things that aren’t safe for him to ingest.
However, if the licking behavior becomes excessive or distressing, for instance, if you have an open wound that your dog continues to lick, you should try to stop this behavior.
5 Tips To Stop Your Dog From Licking Your Legs
The following are some tips you can try to stop your dog from licking your legs.
1. Find The Root of the Problem
To stop your dog from licking his own legs, you’ll first need to determine why he’s licking them in the first place. One way to do this is by making a note of what time of day he does this and where you are at that particular moment. This can help narrow down possible causes such as hunger or anxiety.
2. Avoid Encouraging the Behavior
One of the most common catalysts behind dogs’ unwanted behavior is because humans are rewarding them for it. When you pet your dog or rub his belly when he licks your legs, you’re inadvertently encouraging this behavior.
If you often tend to reward your dog for licking your legs, then the solution to this problem is quite simple: just stop rewarding him! Eventually, after a few unsuccessful attempts, your dog will turn to other more rewarding things.
3. Keep Them Busy
Since dogs enjoy being active and playing with their owners, making sure you keep them busy will not only promote good behavior but also help them avoid boredom. Remember the old adage, “An idle mind is the devil’s playground?” Well, it applies to dogs too!
If your dog has a lot of energy that needs to be released, engaging him in something he can physically do will help tire him out. For example, an hour or two of walking or playing fetch will burn off enough calories to keep your dog away from your legs during the day.
4. Distract Your Dog
Distraction is another technique that you can employ to stop your pet from licking your legs. Make sure, however, that the distraction is something that has no relation to the licking behavior and is also beneficial rather than harmful.
For instance, you can hold a chew toy in your hand and instruct your dog to chew on it whenever he starts licking your legs. If you’re consistent, the behavior will stop.
Most dogs should respond well to these training techniques and should be able to stop licking their owners’ legs in a relatively short amount of time.
5. Consult an Animal Behaviorist or Trainer
If none of these techniques work or if the licking behavior becomes severe, then you may consider consulting an animal behaviorist. An animal trainer will be able to help you pinpoint the underlying cause of the behavior and help you implement an effective training technique.
There are a few potential reasons why your dog may be licking your underwear. One possibility is that your dog is seeking attention and is associating the act of licking with getting praised or rewarded by you.
Another reason could be that your dog is experiencing separation anxiety and is trying to reconnect with you by bonding through licking.
Lastly, your dog may simply enjoy the taste or smell of your underwear because it contains your familiar scent.
Many dogs are attracted to the taste and smell of menstrual blood, picking up a bad habit from other dogs. Period blood contains proteins that are attractive to many animals and they may enjoy scavenging on food (sweeping, leftovers) from the floor.
Dogs will lick your eyes for a variety of reasons, including enjoying the salty aftertaste when you cry, being loving, grooming you, compulsive-compulsive disorder, or even a medical condition related to excessive licking.
The most likely reason why your dog likes to lick your nose is because it is a learned behavior.
When puppies are born, their mother cleanses them and stimulates them to breathe by licking their nose. The pups then subsequently learn to cleanse their own mother’s noses. Once they grow up and live with humans, they might continue this behavior of licking their owners’ noses.
The dog may be licking the bedsheets to gather information. Dogs have been used in law enforcement and search-and-rescue missions because their sensitive noses are able to pick up scents that humans can’t. So if your pup is overanalyzing clothes or what items are under your bed, he might simply just be gathering information.
This is a likely sign of excitement and your dog might also be smelling your breath or trying to get some of the salt from your mouth. Alternatively, he may just be sampling what you taste like.
Dogs use licking as a way to communicate their needs to their owners. When a dog is hungry or thirsty, they may lick the air to signal that they want to be fed or given water.
If a dog has a foreign object stuck in their mouth, they may lick the air as a way of asking for help. Similarly, if a dog is feeling anxious, they may lick their lips as a way of self-soothing.