Oh That Tongue!! - Why Your Dog Licks

You get a slobbery surprise every time you walk in the door, when you are watching TV, cooking dinner, reading a book, and it doesn’t stop there.  They lick your face, hands, feet, and toes, and that’s just you.  When they lick themselves, they lick everywhere.  Yes, everywhere.  
    So why do dogs lick? While most people assume it is to show affection and love, that is just one of the many reasons dogs use so much tongue.  Another reason they lick is to gather information.  Scent receptors located in their nose and mouth help them process information. Human sweat and sebaceous glands provide a lot of detail for dogs about the mood, health, and overall well being of the person on the receiving end.  
Not only does it allow them to gather information, it also gives them pleasure.  The act of licking releases endorphins that give dogs the feelings of security and comfort.  
    Besides being both pleasurable and informative, it is also a natural instinct that dogs learn from their mothers at birth.  From the moment they are born, a mother dog licks her puppies to stimulate breathing and to clean them up.  It is thought that this instinct continues on throughout the rest of their lives.
    Another theory behind licking is that it is a submissive gesture that dogs use in the wild to maintain harmony among members of the pack.  By licking, your dog is showing that you are the dominant being and the one in charge.  
So the next time your dog licks you, he might be showing you affection, letting you know that you are in charge, or maybe he just wants to make sure you are feeling ok.