After a nice walk with your beloved furry friend, you are relaxing on your couch. You call Maya over and she gives you warm slobbery kisses to your legs. While some might find it gross more than others, you may be curious as to why she’s displaying this sort of behavior. Why does my dog lick my legs? Is there something wrong? Is she trying to tell me something?
Dogs show all kinds of weird behaviors that we may not understand, such as licking your legs, but to them, it is one of their ways to communicate with their human counterparts. Knowing the reasons why your dog is doing it only helps further solidify the loving bond between you and your furry friend.
A dog licks your legs because she is grooming you. Dogs lick themselves as well as other dogs as a form of cleaning. Other reasons include your dog is trying to show you affection or she just loves the taste of your legs.
No dogs are alike as they have their own unique personalities. With that being said, there are many reasons why your pooch feels the need to lick your legs. Below are some of the most common reasons behind her doggie psychology.
Why Does My Dog Lick My Legs?
7. Releases Endorphins
When dogs lick, they experience a “feel good” sensation. Their brains produce and release a hormone known as endorphins that gives them a feeling of pleasure and comfort. Similarly, our brains release the same chemical, a feeling of euphoria, after we have an intense workout. Next time when Maya licks, maybe she is feeling blissful.
6. Grooming You
Did you just finish taking a shower? Sometimes your pooch will groom you, by licking your legs, so you are clean and dry. Canines lick to clean themselves so it’s part of their instinct. Since you are her hooman, she has a sense of duty to clean you off.
5. Food Crumbs
Look, your precious furball probably smells kibbles from a mile away. It can be simple food crumbs that we may not notice are on our legs and Maya, with her adorable snout, smells it, therefore she licks. “Mmm..dis iz soo tasties!”
4. You’re Needed For Something
She might be trying to tell you that you are needed or wanted for something. As mentioned earlier, licking is just another way dogs communicate, so to get their points across they lick, or even sometimes paw at you. Maya might be signaling she’s hungry or needs to potty. Usually, if her request is not met, it’ll most likely be followed by sporadic whimpering or those insanely cute puppy-dog eyes that we can not resist. “Can u gib me chimken pweez?”
3. Like The Taste
Another reason can possibly be Maya loving how you taste. Did you just finish working out or perhaps are sweating? Our body produces sweat and oil that are quite salty. Your dog probably loves the taste, and thus licks your legs. “Wuv salty taste!”
2. To Get Your Attention
Sometimes, dogs lick your legs because they know by doing so, they will gain a reaction from you. You might pet your dog, interact with her, give her a treat, or simply laugh. All these reactions not only give her a reason to do it again but also encourage her to do so. This process is actually a form of training known as classical conditioning. Dogs learn to associate their licking to your response and as a result, this behavior is formed.
Simply put, your fluffy furball is most likely licking your leg because she loves you! She’s basically giving you dog “kisses”. Your leg is probably the only available patch of skin she is able to interact with at that very moment. If she’s able to lick your face, she will definitely do it. Dogs are some of the most loyal animals out there and their love is truly unconditional. “Wuv you, hooman!”
Should You Allow This Behavior?
This licking behavior is relatively harmless. However, if you have an open wound, you should refrain from letting Maya lick you because her saliva does contain bacteria. Though very rare, it can cost infections in humans with weakened immune systems. It is better to be safe than sorry.
On the flip side, if you are not germaphobic or have no open wounds, licking, as mentioned earlier, doesn’t cause harm. Just make sure that you don’t have any cream or ointments applied to the area where it is being licked, as they may contain ingredients that could be harmful to the pup.
In the end, whether to allow it or not comes down to personal preference. If you do choose to stop this behavior, don’t worry, we have some helpful tips on how to do so.
Don’t Like It? Here’s How To Correct The Behavior
Not everyone enjoys slobbery dog kisses and some might find the licking is getting out of control. However, there are ways to stop the behavior, but it will take time and patience.
We will be using a method known as operant conditioning in which canines learn through actions resulting in rewards or punishments.
This training involves ignoring your pup. Of course, make sure your dog has no underlying cause for the behavior before flat-out ignoring her. If that is the case, have your veterinarian check her out to make sure she has no medical problems.
Next time your pooch decides to lick your legs again, simply ignore her. Don’t show any reaction. Look away or go to another room if needed. Once the dog understands by licking your leg does not receive the reaction (laughs, treats, etc..) she is looking for, she’ll be conditioned against the licking. When your furball stops licking, then you can give her attention and/or treats. She will start to learn her actions of not licking will be met with reactions she was hoping to get when licking.
Nonetheless, only train when she is displaying unwanted licks. You don’t want to completely phase out the act of licking altogether as this can cause major behavioral issues.
For those who occasionally want to receive some lovely doggie kisses, you can do so by teaching your fur friend commands. Below is a helpful video that walks you through the process:
Dogs do weird things. To us, it may seem weird, but to them, they probably have a reason behind it. Most of the time, when dogs lick, it is their way of showing appreciation and love to their very special hoomans. It is also one of their primary ways of expressing themselves as well as telling us their wants and needs. You know your precious pup best and whether or not you want the behavior, just know she has her own doggie psychology, usually positive ones.