We’ve talked about why dogs lick themselves but what about when they are licking you?! Whilst licking is a completely normal behaviour and an important form of communication, it can be a sign of an issue when it’s done excessively.
Firstly, licking you (or the floor or the couch etc!) can indicate a gastrointestinal problem (i.e. nausea, inflammatory bowel disease, a foreign object in the intestines, etc.), so it’s important to see your local veterinarian for a hands on examination and rule out gut issues as a cause.
Then there’s the behavioural side of the issue. Your dog may lick you to get attention (very common!), to relieve stress, or simply because they like the way you taste! If it bothers you or becomes annoying, you need to take action so it doesn’t damage your relationship.
In the case of taste, start by considering any creams or ointments that you use that your mate may find appealing.
The best method to reduce the amount of licking is simply to ignore the behaviour i.e. remove the reward – which is getting your attention. Consistency is the key, you need to completely ignore the behaviour, every time. If the licking continues get up and walk away, so the attention ends.
In addition to ignoring the behaviour, reward the behaviours that you enjoy, such as sitting calmly beside you not licking. Also look at training your dog to do an alternate behaviour such as to lie quietly on a mat on cue. You may need help with this via obedience classes, or a trainer that uses a positive, rewards-based approach.
Also ensure that they are mentally and physically occupied. This leaves less time and desire for those unwanted behaviours like licking you. This means daily exercise, putting meals in slow release devices e.g Kong cube, which gives them something to do whilst getting their reward, providing distraction with safe chew toys, treats, or filled Kongs, and rotating the toys that are given.