Something you’ll need to come to terms with as a dog owner (no matter what breed you go for) is that you’ll be licked every now and again. And who doesn’t love getting kisses from time to time? No doubt you’ll find yourself giving your pup a lot of smooches too, so why wouldn’t they want to return the favour?
Interestingly, there are all sorts of reasons behind why your dog might be footloose and fancy free with their tongue… and it’s not just about displaying some affection for you as their owner.
Licking is, in fact, one of the most natural and instinctive behaviours that dogs will engage in and it’s a way for them to groom, of course, but also to bond and express themselves.
They may lick you as a way of saying “I love you”, or because they want your attention, because they’re feeling a little stressed and anxious… or it could just be because you taste good to them!
Even more interestingly, it seems that licking might actually be a way of showing empathy.
A study carried out back in 2012 by Goldsmiths University, published in the Animal Cognition journal, actually found that when someone (either the dog owner or a stranger) pretended to cry, the dog would be more oriented towards them than if they were humming or talking.
What’s more, if the stranger pretended to cry, the dog would go and sniff, nuzzle and lick them, rather than approach their usual source of comfort (their owner)… which suggests that their pattern of response is behaviourally consistent with an expression of empathic concern!
Of course, the argument here is that dogs are simply exhibiting learned behaviours – but no doubt there are many of you out there who will never be dissuaded from the idea that your pup is able to understand how you’re feeling. And nor should you be!
Looking for a puppy trainer in London? Get in touch with Sean Hyden today to see how he can help.