Why do Dogs Lick? And More Facts About the Way They Act

Ever ask yourself “Why do dogs lick people?” or “Why is my dog scratching his butt on my carpet?” Dogs engage in some interesting behaviors, and they usually mean something.

Dogs are complex beings, and since they cannot talk, people don’t always understand why they do the things they do. Sometimes it’s apparent that they are hungry, tired, hurt or happy, but other times they leave you guessing. Why DO dogs lick? There has to be a reason besides coating their owners in slobber on a daily (or hourly) basis, Right? Here are some interesting facts about the strange way your dog acts.

Why do dogs lick?

why do dogs lick

Why do dogs lick everything? There are multiple reasons. Affection, hunger, and cleanliness are probably the most obvious, but did you know dogs also lick when they are anxious, in pain, or itchy? Dogs may even lick strange surfaces which may signal an underlying GI issue according to Dr. Fiona, veterinarian, and blogger for Pets Best Insurance.

Some licking is normal, but if you think it’s excessive, try to figure out if it’s because of a medical or behavioral issue. Your vet can help you determine if they are healthy, and if they are you can try to discourage licking, but never punish them for it. Redirecting their habits is always your best bet. It may take time, but it’s better than destroying your dog’s spirit.

Why does my dog keep dragging his butt all over my rug?

why do dogs lick

Some people find this habit disgusting, while others find it funny, but do you know who doesn’t consider butt dragging amusing? A dog with swollen anal glands, or the person who has to clean up after them, that’s who.

Clogged anal glands is a topic most dog owners don’t anticipate dealing with, but they can become swollen and impacted leaving your dog extremely itchy and uncomfortable. Your vet can help treat this, and some vets will even show you how to do it, although my mom prefers to leave that job to the professionals.

What makes a dog “smile”?

why do dogs lick

I once had a lab friend named Copper who would always greet people at the door with what looked like a smile. He would curl his lips up, and show his teeth. He appeared to be happy every time, wagging his tail and letting everyone pet him. His name eventually became Snarls because he smiled so much, but was he actually happy?

While some dogs curl their lips as a warning to stay away, Copper used his smile to show submission and to invite people to pet him. It’s commonly referred to as a submissive grin which according to trainer Mikkel Becker “is a tactic dog use to shut off aggression from another individual, either human or canine.” It was Copper’s way of greeting guests or begging for hugs, and it definitely worked well for him. He was well loved.

Why does my dog’s back hair stand up?

why do dogs lick

It depends on the dog, but I am sure you’ve seen it before. Your dog is excited or mad, and all of a sudden all of the hair from the neck down to the tailbone stands on end. It looks like they’re turning into a porcupine, and it’s called hackles, or piloerection. It’s similar to human goosebumps, and is an involuntary response to anger, stress, fear, excitement and even insecurity. If you watch your pet’s body language, you can usually figure out what is triggering this response.

Certified trainer and former veterinarian Adrienne Janet Farricelli explains “Dogs have special muscles in their skin called arrector pili which are attached to their hair follicles and are capable of fluffing the hair by trapping air between the hair shafts.” This reaction is similar to that of a puffer fish or a porcupine. It makes the dog appear larger to fend off predators. Overall it’s harmless, and the only adverse effect you will see is some excess shedding.

Why is my dog a thief?

why do dogs lick

You notice that food, socks, and other random objects around the house start to disappear, and after further investigation, you discover that it’s your beloved dog. What is causing your dog to steal things from your home? Food is typical because dogs love to eat, but what makes your dog want to take socks or even a pair of underwear from your dirty laundry bin?

Dogs are adventurous creatures, and more so if they are bored or do not get enough physical activity. Some dogs love the chase after getting caught, so it’s important to not make a game out of retrieving your items. If you know your dog has a penchant for getting into your things, try to keep items out of reach, and use gates to keep them confined to specific areas of your house. You also want to be especially careful with items dangerous to dogs such as chocolate, coffee, small toys such as legos, and string. If you think your dog has ingested something that he shouldn’t have, call your vet immediately. When dogs ingest dangerous items, it can cause significant damage to their digestive tract, or even death.

Dogs are excellent companions, each with a personality of their own, and like humans, some may display strange behaviors or interesting body language. Some actions are harmless, but some are a sign that something is bothering them and should never go unnoticed.

Have you ever asked yourself “Why do dogs lick”? Share your canine curiosities in the comments.


Side note: Do you run a business in the pet industry? Would you like to drive more traffic and sales to your site through a search-optimized pet blog? Get in touch with my office-mates at Lantern Content Marketing!

About Napa 'ze Dog

My name is Napa and I'm the Lantern Content Marketing Adventure Company office dog. They create content for business blogs, so I do my part by blogging about pet stuff. My favorite topic is poop! Since you asked, I'm an F2B Miniature Goldendoodle. Everything else you want to know about me is right over here!

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