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Dogs are naturally inquisitive creatures. Their curiosity and enhanced sense of smell can cause them to investigate strange things and do weird things, like licking you when you get out of the shower.
Smell and taste might be the most important senses dogs have to explore their environment and you smell and taste especially good after the shower, and might make your dog act weird.
Does your dog rush to lick your legs as soon as your step out of the shower and not even give you time to dry off? Or maybe they give you time to put lotion on because they love the smell of the vanilla scent. Some dogs might be indiscriminate and want every opportunity to lick you.
So what specific reason makes your dog lick you after the shower?
Dogs are exploring their environment when they lick you after the shower. You probably smell and taste different than usual when you get out of the shower and your dog might like the products you use. Perhaps they like the water on your skin or are lickers by nature to show affection.
Whatever reason makes your dog want to lick you after a shower, it can a very endearing, or maybe annoying. It is almost a ritual, whether they like the taste of soap, want water, or they are showing affection. If the ritual becomes a habit that you do not mind, be mindful of the products you use.
However, while licking water off your legs is fine, some products we use on our bodies could have ingredients that might be bad for our best friends.
Why Do Dogs Lick You After The Shower?
What is it about licking that dogs love so much, especially when you get out of the shower?
Licking is not only a way for dogs to explore their environment through taste and smell, it is also a social behavior. What starts outs as a way for their mother to groom and keep her young puppies clean quickly becomes a habit for dogs as they age to express love, affection, and a way to bond.
That is probably why your dog licks your more than anyone else. Dogs are especially drawn to lick us after the shower because we smell different and they are driven to explore their environment: you!
Reason 1: Your Dog Likes The Smell And Taste Of The Products You Use
What are some of the fragrances in your body soap or lotion? I can go into my shower and see vanilla bean, lavender, and peppermint. All things that might go into your favorite baked goods; so it is no wonder your dog like to lick you after the shower. You probably taste and smell delicious.
A dog’s sense of smell is up to 100,000 more powerful than a human’s sense of smell. This means that they can smell the faintest whiff of whatever their favorite fragrance is, and licking you after the shower is a way to explore that smell and taste further.
If your dog loves the way you smell and tries to lick you all the time, you might try putting your scent or the scent of your favorite product (as long as it is dog-safe) on something to remind them of you when you are away.
Reason 2: Your Dog Is Helping You Get Cleaner
We already mentioned that dogs learn to lick and groom from their mother during puppyhood. Puppies can be messy and a good dog mom will diligently work to keep her babies clean.
Look at this wonderful momma dog in the video licking her puppies.
So your dog might lick you after the shower to show affection, as grooming is a way dogs have learned to show love.
However, if you are trying a new product, your dog might want to clean it off and lick you after a shower. They are going to want to investigate that new shampoo or conditioner by licking your head. Dogs can take a while to acclimate to new environments and a sensitive dog might even need time to get used to a new smell or taste on you.
Reason 3: Your Dog Is Thirsty
Sometimes the simplest explanation is the best explanation. If your dog is licking the water off of your legs after the shower, they might be thirsty.
Check their water bowl, if it is empty your dog might be thirsty and seeking a new water source: You!
According to the PetMD, “Dogs should drink approximately 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight each day.” That means if you have a 30 lb dog, they need to be drinking about 30 ounces (or almost 4 cups) of water a day.
Most dogs should have constant access to water, and some dogs might drink more water than average. A high-energy breed living in a hot climate like a husky might need to drink more water than you expect, and if they finish their bowl they might lick you after the shower for extra hydration.
If your dog exercises a lot, lives in a hot place, or is on certain medication, they might need more water than average, Make sure you regularly clean and fill their water bowl.
Reason 4: Your Dog Is Showing Affection
Dogs are truly empathetic creatures. They are very attuned to our emotions and if we are happy they feel happy. If we are stressed, they can get stressed and want us to feel better. One of the ways dogs know how to make us feel better and express love and affection is by licking.
One study has shown that people and their dogs who spend a lot of time together show increased levels of oxytocin or the “cuddle hormone.” So affectionate behaviors like licking after the shower is a good way for you and your dog to enjoy each other’s company.
So if your dog is licking you after the shower, they might simply be showing affection and maybe trying to make you feel better. Think of the ritual as a good bonding experience between you and your dog.
Reason 5: Your Dog Is Showing Appeasement
While dominance theory has been disproved, dogs still can show appeasement to their owners. Licking their lips, other dogs, or you after the shower are some of the behaviors that dogs show when they are acting submissive, or appeasing. It is a behavior they probably pick up from their mothers in puppyhood.
Before you start saying your dog sees you as alpha because they lick you after your shower, remember that your relationship with your dog is not based on alpha or dominance theory. Dogs do not understand that kind of mentality. Instead, they thrive under solid boundaries built on positive reinforcement.
Reason 6: Some Dogs Are More Likely To Lick
Some dogs love to lick so much that it almost becomes a part of their personality. They might not only be licking you after the shower, but anything they can reach to lick is fair game.
Like this funny video of a border collie licking a glass door.
A dog might be a heavy licker not only because they like the way you taste and smell, but because they love showing affection. Some dogs and breeds are more affectionate than others and like to show that affection through licking. It is not necessarily a bad thing, just a part of their personality.
Why Do Dogs Lick Your Legs After You Shower?
Dogs like to lick you after you shower because they like the taste, they want to clean you, show affection, show appeasement, or it makes them happy.
So why do dogs specifically lick your legs after your shower?
The answer might sound simple, but your dog probably licks your legs after you shower because that is the only part of you they can reach.
Unless you are a short person with an extra big dog like the mighty Cane Corso, your dog probably only can reach your legs to lick after you shower.
Personally, I am almost 6 feet tall with little dogs. Maybe if I had a giant Great Dane it could reach my arms to lick after I shower, but as it stands my little dogs can only reach my legs.
Is It Okay That My Dog Licks Me After The Shower?
Unless you do not being licked by your dog (which is valid, dogs can get into and eat gross things), it is okay to let your dog lick you after the shower. If you like that your dog shows love and affection through licking, there is usually no reason not to discourage that behavior.
However, certain skincare products can be toxic to your dog if they lick them off your skin after the shower. These include:
- topical medications
- retinoids (vitamin A compounds)
- Anything with avocado or grape oils
If you ever use these kinds of products or plan on using them in the future, it is probably better to air on the side of caution when it comes to letting your dog lick you after the shower. By conditioning them from the beginning to not lick after the shower, they will be less likely to do it in the future. Then you will not need to worry about them accidentally ingesting something harmful that you have put on your skin.
Should I Worry?
Licking can be a sign of stress and excessive licking can be a sign of anxiety. If licking you after the shower seems obsessive, your dog could be anxious since compulsive behavior is a major sign of anxiety. There are lots of things that can make a dog anxious, from loud noises to new schedules.
Besides licking you after the shower, other symptoms of anxiety include pacing, drooling, and yawning, as well as shedding or having toilet accidents.
Giving your dog a consistent schedule filled with mental stimulation and exercise can help ease their anxiety and stress. You can also redirect their licking to appropriate interactive toys like a bone filled with your dog’s favorite canned dog food, yogurt, peanut butter, or canned pumpkin. Pop it in the freezer and they can lick it for quite a while. Licking is self-soothing and letting them lick something that also tires them out can alleviate anxiety.
For extreme cases, do not hesitate to reach out to a trainer or behaviorist for a training plan or your veterinarian who can prescribe anti-anxiety medicine.
Some dogs are more likely to enjoy licking. And if you have a breed of dog that is known for licking, like the German Shepherd, they might even try to catch and lick you as soon as you get out of the shower.
Not only are dogs licking you after the shower to explore their world by smelling, tasting, and cleaning you, but they also are licking as a form of communication.
Dogs might be able to recognize and remember certain words like their owner’s names, names of toys, and commands that have been taught to them, but their understanding of language is very different than ours.
So while dogs might not be able to say things like “I love you” or “I am stressed” they do have their doggy language to communicate to us those emotions when they are feeling extra affectionate or maybe a little anxious.
Licking is a big way for dogs to communicate these feelings. When your dog rushes over to start cleaning the water off your legs as soon as you get out of the shower, they are likely communicating something to you, like love or appeasement.
Keep in mind that some dogs, like the Great Pyrenees, do not generally lick to show affection. If they are licking you after the shower, they could be tasting your new soap or telling you they are anxious.
Whatever the reason, they trust you enough to show emotion through their body language. It is up to us as responsible dog owners to know our best friend well enough to identify licking you after the shower as a behavior based on positive or negative doggy emotions. Or maybe you just smell good and they like the way you taste!