Why a dog licks its owner's face: the reason is very simple

Yulia PoteriankoLife
Why a dog licks its owner's face: the reason is very simple

The habit of dogs licking people's faces and hands pleases some people and annoys others, but everyone wonders why they do it. The simplest parallel that can be drawn is kissing as an expression of affection. But what does science have to say about it?

According to the publication Science Focus, no one can accurately explain the reasons for this behavior. But there are quite plausible theories. In particular, the researchers suggest that this is a way to say hello during a meeting and to attract attention. So Bristol University lecturer in animal behavior Emily Blackwell explains, "This is essentially a social behavior derived from their evolutionary history. It's a greeting, and it can be taken as a compliment."

She sees the reasons dogs use this gesture as a result of the way animals are raised by their mother. "Puppies have usually learned to lick their mother to greet her and also to encourage her to eat. The mother then burps up material for the puppy to eat," Blackwell says.

As an adult, the dog no longer expects anything edible to be regurgitated on him. And this pattern remains in the animal's social behavior as a manifestation of the joy of meeting.

At the same time, dogs do not practice this greeting among themselves - it is rare to see an adult dog who will lick the face of another dog. This puppy-like behavior is demonstrated only in relation to people. Researchers of canine psychology believe that by becoming a lifelong guardian of a dog, we encourage the dog to behave like a puppy for life.

Another manifestation of puppy behavior that can be seen in dogs is the habit of barking and whining a lot. Domesticated dogs vocalize about as much as puppies - much more than non-domesticated members of the species.

This preservation of adolescent behavior in adulthood has even been given a name among experts: neotenia. And it is characteristic not only of dogs but also of other pets, such as cats.

So far, there is no consensus on whether or not it is a good idea to encourage childlike behavior in our pets. However, Blackwell said, we should at least be aware of how people's behavior affects pets, especially when we're not around. "We have high expectations of our dogs: we expected them to be quiet and silent and leave us alone while we were away. However, the default setting for any puppy (and, by extension, most pet adult dogs) ) is terrible to yell if they are separated from a social group. In fact, up to 80% of pet dogs react negatively to being left alone," the expert said.

However, she noted that this negative trait can be eliminated by teaching the dog from an early age that it's okay to be left alone. A good way is to gradually increase the amount of time a dog spends at home alone in a relaxed and familiar environment.

Blackwell also urged not to punish dogs for trying to lick your face or hand. "Imagine trying to shake someone's hand and being punched. That would be very unpleasant," she explained.

For those who want to wean an animal from such displays of emotion, she advises the positive reinforcement method of introducing alternative ways for them to greet you. "Cover your face with your hand and they will lick your hand - give a reward for this behavior and next time they are likely to target the same area," the expert suggested. Repeat the reward whenever the dog behaves correctly, and it won't be long before he'll be doing everything the way you want him to while feeling happy himself.

Previously OBOZREVATEL told us why dogs sometimes tremble and how to react.

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