Dogs lick for all kinds of reasons. We like to think of those slurpy tongue-swipes as canine kisses, and certainly they can be a way for your pet to show affection. In puppies, licking can be a way to show deference to an older dog and even adult dogs may use licks to show respect to their people. It may even be a way for dogs to show their love.
Dogs also use lip licking as an appeasement gesture. These are signals that other dogs interpret, “I mean no threat.”You may catch your dog lip-licking when he feels stressed in a strange environment at the vet, for example.
Licking also is used to self-groom, but that can get out of hand when a dog lick-lick-licks a sore such as a hot spot. Other times, dogs just lick out of boredom when it becomes a habit or they’re rewarded in some way for the behavior.
Magical-Dawg loves to lick my hands after I’ve used lotion. Or when I’ve eaten (by hand) KFC or something similar. I’ve also heard reports of dogs who lick-lick-licked a particular spot on the owner that–once examined by a human doc–turned out to be cancer! While licking has many potential reasons, from serious to innocuous, it shouldn’t be shrugged off, either.
Today’s Ask Amy describes yet another licking issue. Yes, dogs can have OCD problems. Have you ever had a dog who displayed obsessive-compulsive behaviors? Magical-Dawg is pretty obsessive about his Frisbee (he has a 6-Frisbee-A-Day habit). That’s the way I keep Magic happy–how do you know your dog is happy? How would you deal with a dog that licks everything all the time?
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