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Why Do German Shepherds Lick You – Is it Normal & What Does it Mean?

Licking is a natural behavior for German Shepherds, as it is for most dog breeds. Dogs use their mouths to explore their environment, taste, and communicate. For German Shepherds, licking their owners is a typical way of showing affection and bonding. Understanding the underlying reasons behind this behaviour can provide valuable insights into your dog’s emotional and physical well-being.

Science Behind German Shepherd Licking

To understand why German Shepherds lick, it’s essential to look at the biological and psychological aspects of this behaviour. Dogs have highly developed taste buds and scent receptors that help them gather information about their surroundings. When a German Shepherd licks you, they can learn more about you through your taste and smell. Additionally, licking releases endorphins in a dog’s brain, which can provide a sense of comfort and pleasure.

Top 10 Reasons Why Your German Shepherd Licks You

German Shepherds may lick you for various reasons, each serving a specific purpose. Here are the top ten reasons why your German Shepherd might be licking you:

  1. Affection: One of the primary reasons dogs lick their owners is to show love and affection. It’s a way of bonding with their human family members and reinforcing social connections.
  2. Communication: Licking can be a way for your German Shepherd to communicate with you. It may signal a need for attention, food, or even that they want to go for a walk.
  3. Grooming: Dogs groom themselves and other pack members by licking. Your German Shepherd may be attempting to groom you as part of their pack.
  4. Anxiety or stress relief: Licking can help a German Shepherd cope with anxiety or stress by releasing endorphins, which have a calming effect on the dog.
  5. Submission or appeasement: Licking can be a sign of submission or an attempt to appease a more dominant figure in the pack. Your German Shepherd may lick you to show respect and acknowledge your leadership.
  6. Exploration and curiosity: Dogs use their tongues to explore their environment. Your German Shepherd may lick you to learn more about you, especially if they are still a puppy.
  7. Taste or smell attraction: Your skin might have a taste or scent that attracts your German Shepherd. This could be due to residual food particles, sweat, or even the scent of your body lotion.
  8. Boredom or habit: In some cases, licking can become a habit, especially when a dog is bored and seeking mental stimulation.
  9. Reinforcement from the owner: If you give your German Shepherd attention when they lick you, they may continue to do so to receive more attention.
  10. Medical issues: Persistent or excessive licking could indicate a medical issue, such as allergies or an injury. If you notice unusual licking behaviour, consult your veterinarian.

Is it Safe to Let My German Shepherd Lick Me?

While licking is generally safe, there are some potential health concerns to consider. Dogs can carry bacteria in their mouths, which can be transmitted to humans through licking. However, the risk of infection is generally low. On the other hand, licking can also have some benefits, such as reducing stress and anxiety in both dogs and humans, as well as promoting bonding and emotional connection. It is essential to balance the risks and benefits to make an informed decision about allowing your German Shepherd to lick you. To minimize any potential risks, always maintain good hygiene and ensure your dog receives regular veterinary checkups.

How to Stop Your German Shepherd Licking You?

If you find your German Shepherd’s licking behaviour excessive or uncomfortable, you can implement various strategies to curb this habit:

  1. Training and redirection techniques: Teach your dog commands such as “stop” or “off,” and redirect their attention to a toy or another activity when they start licking.
  2. Addressing underlying causes: If your German Shepherd is licking due to anxiety, boredom, or stress, provide more mental stimulation, exercise, or consider working with a professional dog trainer to address these issues.
  3. Setting boundaries and consistency: Establish and enforce consistent rules regarding licking behaviour. Make sure all family members follow the same guidelines to avoid sending mixed signals to your dog.

When to Seek Professional Help

If you notice excessive or compulsive licking in your German Shepherd, it’s essential to seek professional help. This could indicate an underlying medical issue or a behavioural concern that requires intervention. Consult with a veterinarian to rule out any health problems, and consider working with a professional dog trainer or behaviourist to address any behavioural concerns. Ongoing management and support can help ensure your German Shepherd’s well-being and strengthen the bond between you and your dog.

Why Do German Shepherds Lick You – Is it Normal & What Does it Mean?