Does your Australian Shepherd seem to lick you a lot? Maybe more than you think the average dog probably does? You aren’t alone! This odd and sometimes annoying habit is commonly reported by Aussie owners.
There has to be a reason for this unusual behavior, right? Well, there actually are multiple reasons why your Aussie may lick you so much.
The 7 Reasons Your Australian Shepherd Licks You So Much
1. They Love You
Sometimes, Aussies will lick their people for no other reason than simply to show affection. Your dog loves you!
Aussies are loyal dogs that tend to bond closely with their people, so it’s not uncommon for them to find ways to show their affection to you. If your pup is snuggling with you on the couch, they may feel extra happy and content, leading to them deciding that it seems like the right time to lick you.
2. You Taste Good
Not in the way that your dog wants to eat you, but there are a variety of reasons your Aussie may think your skin tastes good.
Sometimes, lotions and other skincare products may taste good to your dog, causing them to want to lick them off you. Other times, you may have food on your skin, maybe even without realizing it, and your dog wants to get a little bit of that yummy taste. Your dog may even want to lick your skin after you’ve had a workout and you’ve been sweating, thanks to the salty taste of your sweat.
3. There Is an Unusual Smell on You
Dogs can smell through a variety of means, and smell and taste are very closely related, so tasting something may help your dog better identify it.
There are a ton of unusual smells that may seem interesting enough to your dog that they’d want to lick you. If you’ve been holding a cat or petting a strange dog, for example, or if you’ve been working on a project in the garden and your arms have rubbed against a certain plant, your Aussie may decide that they want to lick you.
4. They Want Attention
Aussies are smart dogs, and they can absolutely learn from positive reinforcement. If your dog learns that licking you gets them attention, then you can expect this behavior to continue, especially if you don’t intervene to correct it.
If your dog starts licking you and you respond positively, this will give them the wrong impression. Although unintentional, the positive reaction your dog saw will encourage them to continue using licking as a means to get your attention.
5. They Have a Compulsion
Just like people, dogs can develop anxiety, which can be accompanied by compulsive behaviors. While this is different from OCD in humans, it does involve a repetitive action that the dog uses as a mechanism of self-soothing.
Some dogs can also develop compulsive licking after an injury or illness led to them licking themselves more, and then the behavior translates in their mind into something they should also do to you. This behavior shouldn’t be encouraged, though, and you should start trying to identify why your dog may be feeling anxious or stressed.
6. They Have an Illness
Dogs will often lick themselves if they have an injury in an attempt to soothe their discomfort. They may also develop a habit of licking from an illness, and sometimes they will begin licking you as a symptom.
This could be because there is something on your skin that their body is craving, like certain minerals. It also could be because your dog is trying to tell you that they don’t feel well. It’s extremely difficult to know what kind of illness your dog may have if they’re licking you, though, because this behavior could develop from just about any illness your dog could have.
7. They Aren’t Licking You
It’s possible that you’re misinterpreting something your dog is doing as them licking you. For example, if you and your dog lay on the couch together and your dog is licking their paws, then it’s possible that they’ll end up licking you due to the close quarters.
Dogs will lick for a variety of reasons, including wetting their nose or because they are nauseated. If your dog is licking for a reason unrelated to you but you’re physically close to them, then your dog may not be intentionally licking you.
There are multiple reasons that dogs lick their people, but it is a relatively common phenomenon in Aussies. The most common reasons are to show affection, to investigate an interesting taste or smell, or simply to garner attention.
These dogs are highly intelligent, and they are perfectly capable of picking up on your responses to a situation—even subtle ones. This means that your dog may begin to learn that licking you is a positive thing if you don’t work with them to remedy this behavior.
Featured Image Credit: Jennay Hitesman, Shutterstock