So, you’re sitting comfortably on your couch watching a movie, reading your favorite novel, or going through the latest gossip online. Suddenly your dog comes into the room and immediately goes for your leg, and starts licking your feet.
Maybe the same thing happens when you come home from work and take off your socks. And now you’re wondering if this behavior is normal in dogs.
Well, don’t worry! You’ve come to the right place.
This article addresses one of the most popular questions dog owners ask: Why does my dog lick my legs?
Here, we will take an in-depth look at what compels canines to lick human legs and whether it’s normal behavior. Read on…
Before we can answer this question, you need to understand the significance of licking in dogs. Licking is an instinct in all canines, whether wild or domesticated. It’s their way of communicating, exploring the world, and interacting.
They pick up on this behavior when they’re still puppies. New mothers often lick their newborn puppies not only to clean them but also to help them breathe.
Furthermore, it’s the first feeling a puppy experiences after being born. Puppies associate this feeling with love and affection and will lick their mothers in return and other puppies too. As you can see, licking is normal in dogs.
Besides that, dogs have a special organ called the vomeronasal organ, located in the vomer bone between the nose and the tongue. When a dog smells or licks anything, the organ analyzes different compounds and sends the information to the dog’s brain.
Besides communication, dogs can lick your legs for a variety of reasons, including:
If your dog occasionally gives you wet kisses and turns his eyes up to you, he’s expressing his affection towards you.
Remember, dogs gain this innate behavior when they’re born. A mother will lick her puppies to clean them and as a sign of caregiving affection. As these pups grow up, they will lick each other and their human owners to show they care and love them.
Licking can also mean gratitude, something very common when you show love and affection to your dog. Furthermore, licking shows that your dog trusts you and you are part of its pack.
Unlike humans, dogs have a keen sense of taste and smell. The vomeronasal organ, or Jacob's organ, allows them to smell and taste simultaneously, something humans can't do. Because of this, dogs somehow have a biological edge over humans when it comes to taste.
Dogs will lick your legs and feet because they enjoy the salty taste resulting from sweat and oils secreted by your body. This is true, especially if he licks your feet after you’ve come back from any rigorous physical activity that makes your body sweat.
A dog will also lick your legs if you drop some food or splash some water/juice on your leg without noticing.
In other cases, your dog will lick your feet and legs to taste and smell your pheromones (yes, you produce them, but in negligible amounts). This is true if you have a strong bond with your dog. The information gathered will help him gauge your mood.
Dogs are social animals and crave human attention, especially if their owners left them alone for some time. When they see you after a long period of loneliness, they will want attention from you. If you don’t, they will look for cues and opportunities to attract your attention.
For instance, if you haven’t given your dog attention for some time, he might lick your leg until you shift your focus to him. Once he figures out that licking your legs can help him get what he wants, that behavior will become a habit. So, whenever he wants your attention, the dog will lick your legs and feet.
In dogs, licking stimulates the release of oxytocin and endorphins, which help to address anxiety and stress. So maybe your dog is licking your legs to soothe, calm and comfort himself.
If your dog is licking your legs excessively, chances are he’s fearful, nervous, or stressed. Try to figure out what’s causing the anxiety. Maybe it’s something you did, or you moved to a new place. If the behavior persists, visit a vet to understand the cause of the problem.
Occasional licking is common in all breeds of dogs, whether small or large. However, certain breeds tend to lick more than others, like the Dachshund, Labrador Retriever, and German Shepherd. Pet owners have noticed breeds like Greyhounds, Siberian Husky, and American Eskimo lick less.
As long as the dog licking doesn’t affect your day-to-day activities, there’s no need to worry about this habit in your furry friend.
Nevertheless, if the licking seems excessive, your pooch might have a physical or psychological disorder. Therefore, it’s wise to take him to a vet.
Also, don’t let your dog lick your leg or feet if you have any open wounds. The dog’s mouth hosts many bacteria that can get into the open wound and cause you some serious illness. In other cases, your feet and legs could contain bacteria that can harm your dog’s digestive and overall health.
Canine can lick their owners for several reasons, such as; your legs taste nice, to show affection, coping mechanism, and to get your attention. Irrespective of the reason, licking is normal in all breeds of dogs, and it helps to form a strong bond between the dog and owner.
But if this behavior is getting out of hand and it's becoming a compulsion for your dog, consider taking certain measures to curb it. For example, you can ignore your dog when he's licking your legs, train him to solve puzzles or redirect his attention using chew toys.
On that note, it’s crucial to understand the reasons behind your furry-friend’s behaviors and habits to understand him better.
Here are some other common questions about dogs that may also be helpful:Why Does My Dog Scratch My Bed Sheets? Why Does My Dog Bury His Head in Me? Why Does My Dog Lay His Head on Me? Why Does My Dog Sleep Between My Legs? Why Does My Dog Lick My Pillow? Why Does My Dog Stand Over Me? Why Does My Dog Stretch So Much? Why Does My Dog Put His Butt on Me? Why Does My Dog Sleep With His Tongue Out? Why Does My Dog Lay On My Clothes? Why Does My Dog Nibble My Ear? Why Does My Dog Hump the Air? Why Does My Dog Lick Other Dogs Pee? Why Does My Dog Push Against Me? Why Does My Dog Lick My Eyes? Do Dogs Get Tired Of Barking? and if you are after our pet portraits, you can see themhere.