Dog owners frequently observe a myriad of behaviors in their furry friends. One such behavior that might seem unusual, but is quite common, is when a dog licks its owner’s hair. You’re not alone if you’ve ever wondered why your dog does this. Let’s dive into the reasons behind this peculiar canine quirk.
1. Affection and Bonding: One of the most straightforward explanations is that your dog might show you affection. Licking is a natural behavior for dogs; mother dogs lick their puppies to clean them and stimulate their bodily functions. Puppies return this gesture to show submissiveness or to bond. When your dog licks your hair, it might be expressing love and bonding with you, its human family.
2. You Taste Good: As strange as it might sound, the residue from shampoos, conditioners, or other hair products might be appealing to your dog. Even the natural oils from your scalp can have a distinct taste. Dogs have an extraordinary sense of taste and smell, so if there’s something tasty in your hair, they’re likely to find it!
3. Curiosity and Exploration: Dogs explore the world predominantly through their noses and mouths. Licking is one of the ways dogs learn about their environment. Your hair holds many scents, especially if you’ve been out all day. By licking your hair, your dog might gather information about where you’ve been and what you’ve done.
4. Comfort and Soothing: Some dogs lick as a self-soothing behavior, similar to how some humans bite their nails when anxious. If your dog tends to lick your hair during thunderstorms, when there are strange guests in the house, or during other stressful situations, it might be using the action to calm itself. It is a significant reason for why does your dog lick your hair.
5. Attention Seeking: If you react when your dog licks your hair — whether you laugh, pet them, or even scold them — they might take it as a form of attention. Some dogs will do anything for attention, even if it’s not always positive. They quickly learn that certain behaviors elicit responses from their humans, so if licking your hair gets your attention, they might keep doing it.
6. Health Issues: While less common, excessive licking (be it your hair, paws, or furniture) can sometimes indicate an underlying health problem. Conditions like gastrointestinal issues can sometimes lead to excessive licking. If you notice this behavior has become obsessive or has been paired with other symptoms, it’s a good idea to check with a veterinarian.
Tips to Redirect the Behavior:
If your dog’s hair-licking habit becomes bothersome, there are steps you can take to redirect this behavior:
- Positive Reinforcement: Reward your dog when it displays behaviors you want to encourage. If it starts licking your hair, gently redirect its attention and then reward it when it stops or focuses on something else.
- Engage Them: Sometimes, dogs lick out of boredom. Ensuring they have toys and engage in regular playtime can keep them occupied and lessen the hair licking.
- Stay Neutral: Avoid reacting if you believe your dog is licking your hair for attention. Over time, without a response from you, many dogs will abandon the behavior.
- Consult with a Trainer: If the behavior persists or seems to stem from anxiety or other underlying issues, it might be time to consult a dog trainer or behaviorist.
Understanding why your dog licks your hair is a blend of recognizing the natural behaviors of canines and knowing the unique characteristics of your pet. While it might be a sign of affection or simple curiosity, it’s essential to keep an eye out for signs that it might indicate an underlying issue. With patience and understanding, you can ensure that your relationship with your furry friend remains harmonious.