If you have a German Shepherd, or if you’ve ever interacted with one, then you know that they love to lick. From the moment they meet someone new, their tongues never stop wagging! But why do German Shepherds lick so much?
The answer may surprise you – and might even help explain some of your pup's other behaviors. In this blog post, we'll look at what makes dogs in general (and German Shepherds in particular) such enthusiastic lickers and how their licking behavior can help us better understand our canine friends. We'll also discuss ways to manage or reduce excessive licking, so keep reading for all the details!
So, what is the secret behind German Shepherd licking? Why do they do this? Here is an answer to your question!
German Shepherds are known for their enthusiastic licking habits, and good reason! Licking is natural for all dogs, but German Shepherds have been known to lick more than most breeds. This may be because licking is an instinctual behavior that can help them communicate, explore the world, and show affection.
German Shepherds may lick to show submission or respect, to clean themselves and their owners, and even as a form of self-soothing. German Shepherds also seem especially enthusiastic about licking because they're highly social animals that crave human contact. This can also lead to excessive licking if not properly managed, so owners need to understand why their pup is licking and how to help them find more appropriate ways to express themselves.
So what are the hidden reasons behind this behavior, and how can you stop your German Shepherd dog from licking? Let's first discover all reasons behind this behavior!
One of the most common reasons why German Shepherds may lick you or some object (for example couch) it's because:
1. To show the submission
2. To show affection
3. To explore the world around them
4. As a form of self-soothing
5. To clean their fur or their owners’ skin
6. For taste exploration and food detection
7. As an attention-seeking behavior
8. Out of boredom or stress relief
9. Out of excitement from new people, places, or things
10. As part of play for treats and rewards
To show the submission
German Shepherds can lick too much when showing submission. This is because dogs are social creatures and naturally crave human contact. When they sense that someone is in a position of authority over them, such as their owner or another person, they may try to show submission by licking.
📝Related blog post: German Shepherd Licking Paws
Excessive licking can be seen as a sign of insecurity or fear, so it’s important to understand the underlying cause of this behavior and take steps to help your pup feel more secure.
To show affection
German Shepherds can also lick you too much to show you affection. Dogs are social creatures and often turn to lick to show their love and appreciation for their owners. This can be seen in how they greet us when we come home or respond when we pet them.
Licking is an instinctive behavior that helps dogs express their feelings, and it can be endearing when done in moderation. However, it can become problematic if your pup constantly licks you or others. In this case, it’s important to understand the underlying cause of the behavior and work towards resolving any issues so that your pup can express affection in a more appropriate way.
To explore the world around them
German Shepherds use licking as an investigative tool when exploring the world around them. With each lick, they can pick up on different scents and gain information about their environment.
They may lick people to see if they have food or treats in their pockets or show curiosity by licking new objects. Dogs have an incredible sense of smell and constantly explore the world around them with each lick.
As a form of self-soothing
German Shepherds can also lick as self-soothing when they experience negative emotions such as fear or stress. Dogs often turn to lick to distract themselves from unpleasant feelings and find comfort in the action.
It’s important to know your pup’s emotional state and ensure they are not licking out of fear or stress. If this is the case, it’s best to help them find more appropriate ways to calm down, such as through positive reinforcement training.
To clean their fur or their owners’ skin
German Shepherds also tend to lick their fur or the skin of their owners to groom themselves. This is because licking helps spread natural oils from the skin throughout the coat, which can help keep it healthy and clean.
German Shepherds can also lick their owners' fur or skin to groom themselves and keep them clean. This is because licking helps spread natural oils from the skin throughout the coat, helping to keep it healthy, hydrated, and free from dirt and debris.
For taste exploration and food detection
German Shepherds often lick people and objects to explore different tastes and smells. Dogs have an incredible sense of smell, which helps them detect food or treats in their environment.
They are also naturally curious and may use licking to explore their surroundings. By clicking, your pup can pick up on tastes and smells that interest them.
As an attention-seeking behavior
German Shepherds may also lick as attention-seeking behavior. Dogs are social creatures and love being around their owners, so they may lick to get your attention or be included in activities.
If your pup is constantly licking you or others to get attention, it’s important to identify the underlying cause of this behavior and take steps to address it.
Out of boredom or stress relief
German Shepherds may also lick out of boredom or release stress. When bored, dogs often lick to pass the time and relieve any pent-up energy or anxiety.
German Shepherds often lick to cope with boredom or stress. Licking helps them to release energy and reduce their anxiety levels. Dogs have an incredibly acute sense of smell, and licking can provide mental stimulation and sensory exploration for bored animals.
When stressed, dogs may lick as a self-soothing behavior to distract themselves from negative emotions. Suppose your pup is licking excessively out of boredom or stress. In that case, it is important to provide them with an appropriate outlet for these negative feelings, such as exercise, mental stimulation, and positive reinforcement training.
Out of excitement from new people, places, or things
German Shepherds are naturally inquisitive and love exploring the world around them with their powerful sense of smell. They may become overly excited and start licking excessively when exposed to something new.
This could be in the form of licking people or objects. Suppose your pup is getting too excited and licking excessively. In that case, it’s best to provide a distraction, such as an interactive toy or game, to help reduce the excitement and redirect their attention away from the object of their affection.
As part of play for treats and rewards
German Shepherds are highly intelligent and eager to please. This makes them great learners and quick to pick up new tricks. As such, they may lick their owners as part of a game or reward system that can be used to teach them different behaviors.
Licking also helps German Shepherds bond with their owners through positive reinforcement and reward. However, ensuring that the rewards are appropriate for your pup’s needs and age group is important.
What does it mean if my German Shepherd is constantly licking?
If your German Shepherd licks excessively (constantly), it could indicate underlying medical or behavioral issues. The first step should always be to rule out potential medical conditions by taking your pup to the vet for a checkup.
In some cases, excessive licking can indicate stress or boredom and may require environmental enrichment activities and mental stimulation to manage. If your pup is licking out of excitement or attention-seeking behavior, it’s also important to identify the underlying cause and take steps to address it.
Providing appropriate outlets for positive behaviors, such as exercise, training, and interactive toys, can be beneficial in these cases.
But what is excessive licking, and how can I beat it?
What is excessive licking?
Excessive licking is a behavior in which your pup licks more than necessary or out of context. This could include repetitive licking of themselves, objects, people, and other animals.
It can also involve excessive drooling, lip smacking, or tongue flicking. Depending on the underlying cause of this behavior, it may be accompanied by other signs, such as panting and pacing.
How can I beat it?
There are a few things you can do to reduce excessive licking in German Shepherds:
• Provide plenty of mental stimulation, exercise, and interactive toys to help keep them occupied.
• Identify the underlying cause of the licking and take steps to address it.
• Practice positive reinforcement training to teach them appropriate behaviors.
• Identify triggers that induce licking and help your pup learn to avoid them.
• Consult with a professional, such as a vet or certified animal behaviorist, if needed.
• Make sure their diet is balanced and nutritious for their age and activity level.
• Ensure they have plenty of socialization opportunities to help them stay mentally healthy.
By taking these steps, you can help reduce excessive licking in your German Shepherd and ensure they stay physically and mentally healthy.
So, it's excessive licking bad or dangerous for my dog?
Excessive dog licking can be dangerous if the cause is due to a medical condition or underlying illness. It can also be damaging behaviorally, as it can become compulsive and lead to other issues, such as skin issues or infections.
Additionally, if dogs lick themselves excessively, they may start ingesting parts of their fur, leading to digestive issues.
Please don't ignore this behavior and talk to your vet as soon as you notice.
How to stop German Shepherds from licking?
If you’re trying to stop your German Shepherd from licking excessively, here are a few tips that may help:
1. Distract them with a toy or game and redirect their attention: When stopping your German Shepherd from licking excessively, one of the most effective solutions is to distract them with a toy or game. This will help redirect their attention away from licking and onto something more enjoyable.
Providing interactive toys such as chew toys, puzzle feeders, and treat dispensers can be great options for keeping their minds off licking and occupied for longer periods.
2. Give them something else to do, such as go for a walk or play fetch: When trying to stop your German Shepherd from licking excessively, one of the most effective solutions is to give them something else.
Going for a walk or playing fetch are both great options. During a walk, your pup can explore new sights, sounds, and smells to distract them from excessive licking. Playing fetch provides them mental stimulation and physical exercise to help burn off excess energy.
3. Provide environmental enrichment activities such as puzzle toys, scavenger hunts, and hide-and-seek games: Providing environmental enrichment activities such as puzzle toys, scavenger hunts, and hide-and-seek games can help to reduce excessive licking in German Shepherds.
Puzzle toys allow the dog to use problem-solving skills to obtain treats or rewards. Scavenger hunts allow them to explore the environment and use their senses, while hide-and-seek games offer a fun and mentally stimulating activity.
4. Use positive reinforcement techniques to reward desired behaviors: Positive reinforcement training greatly reduces excessive licking in German Shepherds. Positive reinforcement is when you reward desired behaviors, such as not licking, with treats, verbal praise, petting, or playtime.
This helps reinforce the correct behavior and encourages them to repeat it. Positive reinforcement can reward the desired behavior while ignoring undesired behaviors when teaching obedience commands.
5. Manage stress levels by providing ample exercise opportunities and mental stimulation: Managing stress levels is essential to stopping German Shepherds from licking excessively.
Providing ample exercise opportunities and mental stimulation can help lower their level of anxiety, which can lead to excessive licking. Exercise helps keep them physically fit, while mental stimulation helps keeps their minds active and engaged.
A well-rounded exercise plan that includes walks runs, and playtime can help keep your pup mentally and physically healthy.
6. Identify triggers that induce licking and help your pup learn to avoid them: Identifying the underlying triggers that induce excessive licking in German Shepherds can help you effectively manage this behavior. Common triggers include environmental changes, a lack of exercise or stimulation, and boredom.
Environmental change can be caused by anything from a sudden disruption in routine to introducing new people or animals. If your pup is exposed to something that causes excessive licking, help them learn to avoid it.
7. Make sure they have plenty of socialization opportunities to help them stay mentally healthy: Socializing German Shepherds is an important way to help reduce excessive licking. Providing plenty of socialization opportunities can allow them to build healthy relationships with people, other dogs, and animals. It also helps them develop good communication skills and better understand the world around them.
Walking your dog in public places like parks or dog-friendly stores can help them become comfortable in new environments.
8. Invest in quality chew toys that can help engage your pup’s jaws while relieving their need to lick constantly: Investing in quality chew toys is an effective way to help reduce excessive licking in German Shepherds. Chew toys give them something to focus on and engage their jaws, which helps satisfy their need to lick constantly.
Chew toys also provide mental stimulation and help keep them occupied when bored or anxious. There are a variety of chew toys to choose from, such as soft rubber chews, hard rubber chews, natural rawhides, and antlers. Be sure to select a safe toy for your pup and durable enough to withstand their chewing.
9. Consult with a professional, such as a vet or certified animal behaviorist, if needed: Suppose your German Shepherd continues to exhibit excessive licking behavior despite your best efforts. In that case, it is recommended that you consult with a professional such as a vet or certified animal behaviorist.
A qualified professional can help diagnose the root of the problem and provide tailored advice for managing the behavior. Vets can perform physical examinations to rule out any medical conditions that may be causing the excessive licking, while an animal behaviorist can provide specific advice and training techniques.
By following these steps and understanding why your German Shepherd is licking excessively, you can take effective action to reduce this unwanted behavior and help them live happier lives.
10. Create an environment where the licking behavior is not rewarded: Creating an environment where the licking behavior is not rewarded is key to breaking this habit in German Shepherds. This means ensuring that attention, treats, and other positive reinforcement are withheld when your pup licks excessively.
Giving in to the behavior and rewarding them with petting or special treats will only reinforce the habit and make it harder to stop. With consistent and structured training, your pup will eventually learn that their licking behavior does not lead to positive outcomes.
How do I know if my German Shepherd is licking too much?
Excessive licking in German Shepherds can indicate underlying anxiety or stress. If your pup is licking excessively, there are a few signs to look out for.
First, observe how often your pup licks and if they do it more than normal. German Shepherds typically lick their paws and faces regularly. Still, if you notice that they are licking excessively and for long periods, this indicates an underlying problem.
Second, look out for any sudden changes in the licking behavior or other body languages signs such as pacing or whining.
Finally, watch out for physical signs such as redness around the area being licked or hair loss. If you notice any of these signs, it is best to consult with a professional for further advice and treatment.
Do dogs have the cleanest mouths?
No, dogs (including German Shepherds) do not have the cleanest mouths. Despite being known as 'man’s best friend' and licking behaviors that can be seen as affectionate, their mouths are full of bacteria and germs.
Dogs carry various types of bacteria in their saliva, which can cause illnesses in humans regarding open wounds. Further, dogs can spread diseases through their feces and saliva and track germs into the home on their fur.
For this reason, washing your hands after handling your pup or touching any of their toys or objects that may have come in contact with their saliva is always good practice. Allowing them to lick your face is also strongly discouraged.
Always practice good hygiene when handling your pup and ensure that they receive regular veterinary care. This way, you can help keep them healthy and safe while fostering a loving bond with them.
How do German Shepherds show affection?
German Shepherds often show their affection through licking, nuzzling, cuddling, and tail-wagging. They also express their love for their owners by bringing toys and following them around the house.
Do German Shepherds understand kisses?
No, German Shepherds do not understand kisses as humans do. However, they can tell when you display affection and may express their happiness through tail-wagging and licking.
They cannot comprehend our verbal language or the meaning behind gestures such as kissing. German Shepherds are, however, incredibly adept at reading body language and can often pick up on cues from us that indicate affection or love.
This means that even though they may not fully understand the gesture of a kiss, they can still tell when we're expressing our love for them.
Why does my German Shepherd follow me everywhere?
German Shepherds are a loyal and devoted dog breed, so they often follow their owners around to show affection. This behavior, also known as 'shadowing', can express their need for companionship or protection.
Your pup may also follow you to find out what's happening and stay updated with their human activities. German Shepherds love to spend time around their owners and may just be trying to keep them in sight as much as possible. Following you is also a way for your pup to fulfill their instinct to protect their pack leader.
Licking can be good or bad. While they may express their affection through licking, excessive or prolonged bouts could signify anxiety or boredom. If the licking persists for long periods or increases in intensity, it may be a sign of stress and should be addressed by consulting your veterinarian.
But you don't need to worry if your German Shepherd only licks occasionally. He only expresses his love for you in this way!
Frequently asked questions
Do you still have questions? Check our FAQ section, and you can find your answer here!
❓Should I let my German Shepherd lick me so much?
No, letting your German Shepherd lick you excessively is not recommended. Allowing your pup to lick your face or other parts of your body can irritate and lead to the spread of bacteria.
Furthermore, constant licking can indicate underlying stress or anxiety in German Shepherds. Allowing them to do this could reinforce the behavior and make it harder to address.
❓Should I let my German Shepherd lick everything?
Letting your German Shepherd lick all surfaces and objects is not recommended. This can spread bacteria on their fur, and some items may even be hazardous if ingested. To prevent excessive licking and protect them from potential dangers, keep an eye on your pup when they are exploring and make sure they stay away from items that may be dangerous.
It is also important to select appropriate toys and chews for your German Shepherd, as these can help keep them occupied and reduce the likelihood of excessive licking. Choose safe and durable toys designed specifically for dogs to ensure they don't ingest any materials or parts that could cause harm.
❓Do German Shepherds lick clean you?
No, German Shepherds do not lick humans to clean them. While it may seem that way, when a dog licks your face and hands, they express affection. Licking releases pleasurable endorphins, which give dogs comfort and pleasure, so they often lick to show love and acceptance. Furthermore, licking can also be used to show subordination to pack leaders.
❓Why do German Shepherds lick their paws?
German Shepherds may lick their paws for a variety of reasons. For starters, licking helps keep the fur clean and can relieve itchy skin or allergies. Furthermore, licking stimulates endorphins in the brain that can reduce stress and anxiety in times of distress.
Finally, if your pup licks excessively or for prolonged periods, it could signify boredom or anxiety. If your pup is licking its paws more than usual, watch out for any sudden changes in the licking behavior or other body languages signs such as pacing or whining.
❓Why do German Shepherds lick your face?
German Shepherds may lick your face as a sign of affection and acceptance. Licking is a natural way for dogs to show their love, so when they give you kisses or lick your face, it typically means they feel secure and comfortable with you.
However, if the behavior persists or increases significantly in frequency and intensity, it could be a sign of stress or anxiety. If you notice your pup licking excessively, it may be a good idea to consult your veterinarian for further advice.
❓Why did my German Shepherd lick me in the morning?
German Shepherds often lick their owners in the morning to say “good morning” and show their affection. It is also a sign that they are excited to see you so it can be an especially endearing moment!
❓Why does my German Shepherd lick my feet?
German Shepherds may lick your feet for a variety of reasons. It could be a sign of affection or an expression that they want to play with you. Licking can also release endorphins in the brain, which makes them feel good and can reduce stress and anxiety.
❓Why do German Shepherds lick the couch or the carpet?
German Shepherds may lick the couch or carpet for a variety of reasons. They could be trying to get rid of something stuck in their fur from earlier in the day, or it could just be an expression of boredom. Licking can also act as a natural stress reliever for dogs, so if your pup is frequently licking carpets or furniture, it may be a sign of anxiety or distress.
Also, if you just bought a new piece of furniture, your German Shepherd may lick it to better "meet" a new object in their environment.
❓Why do dogs lick the air?
It could be an expression of excitement or anticipation, or they may smell something that interests them. German Shepherds have heightened senses of smell and hearing, allowing them to pick up on cues humans miss.
Besides, licking the air is often seen as a sign of submission to pack leaders, so if your pup is licking the air around you, it could be a sign that they feel comfortable and safe in your presence.
❓What happens if a German Shepherd licks your cut?
It is not recommended for a German Shepherd to lick an open wound. While some people believe that the enzymes in their saliva can help clean and heal a cut, this isn't necessarily true. It could cause more harm than good as your pup's mouth contains bacteria that could lead to infection.
If your pup licks your cut, it's best to gently but firmly tell them "No" and redirect their attention. Make sure to clean the wound thoroughly with antibacterial soap and apply a band-aid or other cover before letting your pup lick it again.
❓Is German Shepherd licking bad?
Licking can be both good and bad, depending on the context. For example, if your pup licks you as a sign of affection and acceptance, it's generally seen as a positive behavior.
Yet, if your pup engages in excessive or prolonged licking bouts, this could signify anxiety or boredom. If the licking persists for long periods or increases in intensity, it may be a sign of stress and should be addressed by consulting your veterinarian.