No matter what breed of dog you may have, they all seem to share that pink bologna tongue that finds its way onto just about anything, including your face. Dogs are renowned for their habit of licking, which is usually cute, but can get irritating from time to time.
This may be because we don’t always understand why our dogs lick. When they lick your hands or your face, it may just be them giving you a kiss, but it might also be that you have some leftover fried chicken flavor residue on your hands too! Dogs can lick for just about any reason, and in order to find out why, we have to put ourselves in their paws.
The psychology of licking
Curiosity is possibly the primary reason that a dog licks. Dogs don’t have the best eyesight, and so rely primarily on their other four senses- which include taste. Dogs normally give light licks to new things and people, if only to examine them more thoroughly. New shoes in the closet, a bag of groceries on the table, or maybe even new people all raise your dog’s curiosity. And we all know our dogs are always first on the scene to investigate curious things. A few licks, combined with sniffing is nothing to worry about, it’s just your dog playing the part of the great Sherlock Holmes.
But, as we see the licking issue becoming more frequent, or even a little weird, there are those times when they frequently lick something already familiar to them. Did you know that licking items such as the carpet or flooring is normally your dog saying that they’re bored and want to get out and play? Many times, this particular situation is noticed if you’re sitting on the couch, watching the television or staring into your computer while you work. Your dog might huff and puff, or even whine a little before lying down and commencing with licking. Basically, they lick out of boredom and to gain attention, because any attention is better than no attention. When they lick the carpet or furniture, owners normally direct their attention to their dogs to tell them to stop. Instead of just giving them a little attention though, take them for an extra walk, or throw the ball around for a while to relieve their boredom.
Licking the floor can sometimes mean that your dogs are hungry or even simply sampling some spilled leftovers that you missed. They may even be searching for water sources when dehydrated, which can result in licking a freshly mopped floor, table tops, and even your skin. Be sure you’re feeding them enough quality food and providing frequent access to water to satisfy their dietary needs.
In more extreme cases, constant licking can develop into an anxiety related problem, similar to an obsessive compulsive disorder. Because the process of licking has a calming effect on dogs, it is their natural way to relax emotionally. Unfortunately, when they lick carpeting, flooring, and other foreign objects, they can accumulate debris, hair, and even toxins that can cause blockages or poison a dog.
Habits of necessity
While dogs lick for attention and inspection, they may also be licking out of necessity. Dog owners everywhere have at some point noticed their pup licking his genitals, which would seem odd or inappropriate to us. But did you know that the dog’s genitourinary tract needs to be regularly licked to keep it functioning properly? If they didn’t lick their genitals and surrounding area, they may become susceptible to infections and other conditions.
A litter of puppies has been born, and we know that mothers lick their pups to keep them clean. But did you know that the process of licking actually helps to stimulate circulation and body functions in the puppies? A newborn puppy’s body isn’t fully functioning until after they are born, and that’s where the mother plays her part.
What about a dog licking their wounds? This is perhaps the most noticeable licking issue because it will appear suddenly. Stickers, thorns, or even scrapes on their paws can leave your dog relentlessly spending all their time licking the affected area. But did you know that a dog’s mouth is not sterile, as often thought. Though it isn’t sterile, the saliva does possess antibacterial properties which when combined with their soft tongue helps cleanse a wound by loosening debris and dirt that may be lodged in the area. Dog’s aren’t dog-tors, and will feel compelled to care for a wound out of instinct.
There is always the very lovable fact that they may be demonstrating submissiveness or trying to communicate with you. Dogs don’t speak our language, and oftentimes feel compelled to simply prove that you are loved, which is great when you’re feeling a little down. Dogs know these things and are always there to lift up your spirits with a few licks of a pink bologna tongue.