You’re finally settling down from a long day at work, and you sit with your best furry friend maybe to watch some TV or chat on the phone for a bit, and they start licking your legs. You’re most likely used to the sentiment by now, but what exactly does it mean?
Your dog licks your legs to show you affection. When they are showing you affection, it makes you feel good, which in turn releases endorphins in their brain as well.
This gives them a sense of comfort as well as a euphoric feeling, leading them to do it more often.
While the primary reason a dog licks your legs is to show affection, there are several other reasons as well.
Therefore, we’ll take you through the ins and outs of this behavior so that you can better understand what exactly your furry friend is doing and why.
Why Your Dog Likes To Lick Your Legs
It’s always best to try to understand what exactly it is that our pets are telling us since they’re not able to communicate how you and I do.
One way they communicate is by licking our legs. Let’s look at some of the reasons they do this.
Licking Your Legs Is Showing You Affection
The main reason a dog will lick your legs is that they love you, and they want to show you that affection. In this instance, your dog is giving you kisses where your skin is bare.
This means they’ll lick your face too. It’s up to you if you want your face licked to death or your legs.
This is one of the ways they show their unconditional love for you. They’re saying, “I love you this much,” when they’re kissing you on your legs.
Your Dog Gets An Endorphin Rush From Licking Your Legs
When your dog settles in and starts licking your legs, it’s because this action causes their brain to release endorphins, which gives them a strong sense of comfort.
Have you ever had a challenging workout that left you feeling exhausted but at the same time relaxed and blissful? This is exactly what your dog feels like while they’re licking your legs.
Your Dog Is Grooming You
If you notice that your dog licks your legs after a shower, this might be because they want to clean you up and dry you off. If you think about it, dogs clean themselves with their tongues, so it makes sense that they would do the same for their human.
A Sign Of Submission
Your dog may be dragging its tongue all over your legs as a sign of submission. This is a way to let you know that you are in charge and that they’re respecting that.
Dogs lick the alpha dog out in the wild to let them know they recognized that they’re the top dog. If you notice your dog bowing into a lower position than you or tucking its tail between its legs in addition to licking your legs, then it’s most likely submissive.
Your Dog Is Bored
Dogs need stimulation. If it’s not provided for them, then they seek it out themselves.
Therefore some dogs tend to chew on things simply because they’re bored. Licking your legs is also a source of stimulation for them.
Make sure you allow your four-legged buddy some running and playtime. They need exercise. If you notice that they lick your legs before exercise but not after, this is an indication that Fido is getting bored.
Licking Is A Dog’s Natural Instinct
One of the ways that your dog explores its surrounding is by sniffing and licking everything. If you’ve just adopted a puppy, then it’s most likely exploring your legs by licking them.
When your puppy grows into an adult dog, this habit will stick, so be prepared for nights upon nights of leg licking! Keep in mind that you should stop the puppy from licking things it shouldn’t, such as cleaners, paint, and dirty surfaces.
Your Dog Is Trying To Communicate With You
Licking is a dog’s way to communicate. Sometimes they lick your legs to show you affection or explore; however, it’s sometimes to tell you that they need something.
This might mean that Fido is hungry or needs to do their business outside. Or this would even mean that they want you to scoot over, so there’s room for them to snuggle as well.
Pay attention to what your dog does, and you’ll eventually learn their communication habits.
Another reason your dog might be licking your legs is that it’s excited. However, you can tell this is the reason if they do it every time you mention something exciting such as playing ball or digging in the sand.
If you don’t want your puppy to continue, wait for their excitement to die down before you mention whatever it is that got them excited in the first place.
Otherwise, you’re going to give your pup the go-ahead to keep licking your legs out of excitement.
Should You Let Your Dog Lick Your Legs?
If your dog likes to lick your legs, this isn’t a bad thing necessarily. It’s also relatively harmless to you or your pet if you don’t have any lotions or topical medications in the area that’s being licked.
Also, take care to make sure you have no open sores as this could result in infection.
Taking everything into consideration, it’s a personal preference on whether you should let your dog lick your legs.
If you don’t like the amount that they do it, you could always train them only to do it at specific times such as nighttime when going to sleep.
How To Find Out Why Your Dog Is Licking Your Legs
Below we’ve put together a few things that you should consider when trying to find out exactly why your dog is licking your legs.
What Changes When Your Dog Isn’t Licking Your Legs?
If you notice that your dog does not lick your leg during the morning when you’re first waking up but does when you get home from work, this might be due to excitement.
While it’s not harmful if you want them to stop, you might want to wait until they’re done licking your legs and then reward them for stopping. Make sure you say a command like, “no more licking” or “stop licking” so they can learn to stop when you command them to.
When Did Your Dog First Start Licking Your Legs?
Some dogs have always done this, so the owner doesn’t think twice. However, if this is a recent behavior, it’s important to take note of what happened when they first started doing this.
Are you giving them rewards during certain times? Did you stop paying attention to them as much during a specific part of the day?
How To Get My Dog To Stop Licking My Legs
Different people have different preferences. It might be that you don’t like when your dog licks your legs, or you might be allergic to their saliva. Don’t’ worry there are a few things you can do to get them to stop.
Train Your Dog
One thing that always works for dogs while training is positive reinforcement. You can use this tactic to get them to stop licking your legs. What this would look like is:
- Move away. When they start licking your legs, stand up and turn your back to them. If they keep doing it, then leave the room.
- Wait for about 5 minutes, and then go back in and give them some love and attention. If they go back to licking your legs, repeat step one.
- Give your dog a treat. The moments they don’t lick your legs, give your dog a treat.
- Repeat these steps. Keep repeating these steps until your dog stops licking your legs altogether.
Distract Your Dog
Your puppy may be lacking stimulation. In this case, it would be best to give the dog a bone or some toys that it can play with. This will make it less likely for your dog to lick your legs or other areas such as your face or arms.
Do Not Encourage Them
Your dog might think that it gets rewards for licking your legs. Rewards can be treats, attention, belly rubs, or anything else that makes them feel good.
When they’re licking your legs, ignore them. Once they stop, reward them by telling them they’re a good puppy and give them treats or butt scratches.
Pay Attention To Them
It’s important that you learn your pup’s signals and communication tactics because they may very well be trying to get your attention. Consider a few things:
- Have they been fed?
- Did you let them out yet for some yard time?
- When is the last time they went potty?
- Have you played with them today?
- When is the last time they slept?
If you tried to get your dog to stop licking your legs, but they keep doing it, this may be them telling you they need to go outside, or they might even be trying to ask you to move your legs so they can sprawl out and sleep.
Heather is an animal lover that has many of them herself. She currently has her Blue Nose Staffy named Bootsie, but she’s catered to many animals over the years including guinea pigs, alpacas, cockatiels, cockatoos, bunnies, chinchillas, hedgehogs, and more. She believes that knowledge should be the foundation of caring for any pet.
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