There are many reasons why does my dog lick my legs. Some pet owners hardly take notice of this behavior in their pets. But dogs have this habit of licking your legs, toes, and feet. It can happen anywhere – while sitting on the sofa, eating your dinner in the kitchen or even when you are out in the park!
Some might think it’s strange, but your dog licking your legs is one way of showing their affection and how much they care about you. It also could be because the dog feels threatened or jealous when someone else comes over and wants to protect its territory.
Another theory is that the dog may have an itch on their paws or in between their toes, so they are trying to scratch themselves with a different body part – which happens to be your leg!
Regardless of the breed or what they are licking, this can be a very common action for any canine companion. There are many reasons why does my dog lick my legs, so we have compiled 10 of our favorites!
Reasons Why Does My Dog Lick My Legs
Dog owners are subject to a lot of dog licking, kissing and play. It is a canine thing, especially if they consider you a part of their pack. There are various reasons why dogs lick your legs – it could be for affection, respect, grooming, or to get your attention. The licking is not limited to the legs; in fact, they will get any exposed skin of their owners! Here are there reasons why dogs keep licking your legs:
1. Dogs lick their owners to show affection:
Our best friends lick our legs to show how much they enjoy being around us.
It is a way for the dog to reciprocate their feelings and would most likely be done as an act of love or caregiving.
Dogs also might have trouble expressing themselves with words, so licking you all over your body could be the best way for them to show you how they feel and that they are very happy.
Dogs can also lick their owner’s legs as a form of reassurance, which is usually done out in public or when other people are around because it helps calm the dog down. For example, if someone is coming up the stairs, your dog might lick your leg to let you know they are there.
The licking could also be a form of expressing gratitude or as a way for them to say “I love you”.
2. Dogs Lick their owner’s leg to mark their territory
Another reason why does my dog lick my legs is because they are marking their territory. Since they don’t want to urinate on their owners, they want to leave their mark in another way.
You may notice your dog behaving this way when there are other pets nearby.
To the dog, they are leaving their scent on you as a way to warn other dogs that this is their territory.
It may seem like an invasion of personal space and privacy, but it’s something all owners have to deal with at some point or another.
It can be frustrating because your dog might lick his leg and then lick your leg.
It may happen because they want to show you that this is their territory too.
3. Some dogs may be licking because they’re experiencing pain or discomfort
Some dogs may lick their owner’s legs just because they are experiencing pain or discomfort.
For example, if you have a dog with arthritis and it is holding its leg up at an awkward angle, then the licking could be a way to soothe themselves. If your pet has diabetes too, there might be a tingling sensation in their paws
Your pet may lick your leg because it helps them get rid of the sensations.
4. Your Dog Is Grooming You
Grooming is very common for dogs, and it might be the reason why your dog licks your legs.
Your dog might be doing what his mother did when he was a puppy — grooming.
This behavior typically starts in infancy as she licks him down to keep him clean. Your pup may not have been getting much of that attention, and now that they are grown up, they are likely to groom you like when they are a pup.
Your dog sees you as a family member, and it is one of the ways for them to show their care for their owner.
Cleaning you up is a great favor to have from your pet. Dogs think that cleaning will not make you sick and it will get rid of the bad smell from your legs.
5. Anxiety, boredom, separation anxiety
Dogs might also lick their owner’s legs if they are feeling anxiety, boredom or even separation anxiety. The licking can be a way for them to cope with the stressors in their life.
Dogs are vulnerable to anxiety and boredom. They are always eager to explore and check out their surroundings.
When they are bored, they may lick their paws and then your legs to get your attention.
Try to get your dog out for some exercise and physical activity to stimulate his mind, body and senses. Your dog will be grateful for an hour or two of playtime.
It means playing with him like fetching balls and flirt poles, games of chase and get it.
Help your dog release his pent-up energy by giving him walks and runs and playing fetch or hide-and-seek.
6. Releases Endorphins and Feel Good
When dogs lick you, they feel good. Endorphins are released, transmitting pleasure and comfort in an animal’s brain.
Your dog might lick you to make him feel better or because he wants to show that he loves and trusts you.
It can be an instinctual behavior for some breeds of dogs like wolves, who often lick their pack members’ faces before they eat together to reinforce the bonds between them.
Dogs also use their tongues to taste as many things as possible: furniture, carpet, walls, and of course, humans!
When dogs lick your legs, they experience thrill and excitement. Some pet owners take their dogs to drink whenever they become excited or overjoyed to prevent them from licking.
7. Your Dog Likes The Taste of Your Skin
Another common reason why dogs lick your legs is that they like the taste of your skin.
The moment you come back from a gym session, your dog may go all out on licking your legs or any exposed skin. It might be because they like the salty taste of your legs.
To deter your dog from licking your legs when you get home, make sure to wash them as soon as possible. However, if the behavior persists despite washing up, your pet might have possessive behavior.
Some dogs develop an unhealthy obsession with their owners. It is especially true for pets who have been neglected before.
If you suspect that your pet may be developing an unhealthy fixation on you, the best thing to do is pay attention and observe him closely. If your dog has been persistently licking any part of your body, then you should get professional help.
Showing submission to their Alpha or pack leader is another reason why dogs lick their owner’s leg.
Like their wild counterparts, your dog may be licking your legs because they want to show their submission to you. It is a good thing because it means that they respect, love, and trust you.
Some pet owners consider this behavior as an expression of utmost respect and tenderness.
9. Your Dog Wants Your Undivided Attention
Another reason for your question on why my dog licks my legs is that they want your undivided attention.
He’s trying to tell you something. Your dog may be licking your leg as a way to communicate.
Touching and sniffing each other is their common mode of nonverbal communication, which they use instead of speech.
Try to understand and acknowledge what they are trying to say, and they will stop the licking. On the other hand, if you don’t give them attention, they will continue doing it and feel upset.
It is crucial that you empathize with your pup. The first thing to do in this situation is to find out the reason behind their bizarre licking habits. Once you’ve discovered what they want, it will be a lot easier to fulfil their wants and needs so that they stop trying to lick around your legs.
10. Your Dog is Exploring or Investigating
Your dog might lick your legs because it is their way of exploring. They want to know what you taste like and if you are edible or not. As mentioned earlier, dogs use their tongues as a sensory organ for tasting and discovering new things around them.
This behavior is very common in puppies. They begin exploring the world around them even when their eyes are still closed. Since these puppies are still unable to see, the most prominent senses are their smell and taste.
If you have a new puppy, you should expect them to lick and smell everything, including your leg. Once your puppies have fully explored you and their surrounding environment, the licking also ceases.
Practical Solutions to Stop Your Dog from Licking Your Legs
Dogs lick people for many different reasons, but they can become a problem if the licking is excessive. It’s important to train your dog early so that he doesn’t develop an unhealthy habit.
Here are some proven tips that might be helpful to you:
Understanding Your Dog
Be patient and listen carefully. The first step in resolving the problem is to identify what your dog needs. Dogs do not communicate with words, so you can’t just tell your puppy to stop licking or ask, “why?” Instead of asking questions, observe his behavior instead.
Licking is one way that dogs communicate their thoughts and feelings with people. Some reasons why a dog might lick you include-
- He may be thirsty, hungry, or cold/hot.
- He might just want to spend time with you.
- Your dog could have an infection and needs treatment.
Train Your Dog to Sit and Stay
For some dog owners, having a dog licking on their legs can be an unpleasant experience. If this happens too often, you don’t have to put up with it.
Dogs have different needs than humans, and they need guidance from us to learn those needs.
So what should you do? One of the best solutions to keep your dog from licking your legs when they get excited is to teach them to sit and stay.
Training them to sit, stay and be calm will be useful so you won’t get smothered with excessive licks, especially if you have a big dog.
Leave Them When They Start Licking
If you can’t stop your dog from licking your legs through commands, teach them to stop by leaving.
Move away from your pet or leave the room. Every time your dog starts licking and you leave, you will eventually teach them to stop because it annoys you.
Soon your pet will learn the word “stop”, or you can also teach them some action such as hand signals that means stop. It may take a while for them to learn this, but be patient.
Give Them Plenty of Exercises
A too energetic or bored dog may lick your legs because he wants you to play with him. You can remedy this by giving them plenty of exercise and toys for mental stimulation.
Some other ideas for stimulating games include tug of war and giving them belly scratches. Another way you can play with dogs is using a frisbee or trying the “fetch” game.
Walk your dog around the neighborhood once or twice a day. It will be a great experience for you both.
You may also take them to a dog park so that they can socialize with other pets in your area. Likewise, if you are busy, try a doggie daycare or a pet sitter to care for them a few times a week.
Give Your Dogs Some Toys
Dogs that are bored and anxious may resort to unwanted behaviors such as persistently licking your legs. Prevent this from happening by giving them toys to chew on and play with.
With readily available toys, you can prevent inappropriate licking behaviors. Some toys have openings and mechanisms that give them treats. Your dog will enjoy learning how it works with their toy.
Should You Allow Your Dogs to Continue Licking Your Legs?
Licking behavior in dogs are typically harmless. But if you have an open wound or broken skin in your legs, you should stop your pet from licking you. More so, if you use creams, lotions or ointment for your skin, it may have harmful ingredients that will make your pet sick.
Whether you allow it or not, it always comes down to personal preferences. Some pet owners are okay getting licks and slobbery kisses from their dogs. But if you want to stop the licking habit, try using some of the tricks and tips we shared here.
Dogs are dissimilar to humans in a way that they need a lot of guidance and love. They are emotionally attached to you at a greater level. You have to understand them so that you will know how to handle them whenever they act inappropriately.
Learning why does my dog lick my legs is an excellent start to know more about your pet and how they view you as their owner.
Our dogs may do weird things, but there might be a good reason for them in what they do.
Licking is one way for your dog to express themselves and show their appreciation to you. But if you are not comfortable with this habit, you can lovingly train and teach them to stop licking your legs.
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