So, if your poodle is anything like mine, you may have noticed your fluffy friend will sometimes be quiet licky – licking you, licking himself, licking random household objects- while some people don’t mind this, I’ve had visitors who unsurprisingly do not like being covered in dog drool… so this article aims to answer why poodles lick and what you can do to discourage this behavior.
Toy poodles, miniature poodles, and standard poodles lick people to show affection, get attention, or because they like the taste of salt on the skin. Poodles lick themselves to clean themselves, or because they have a wound, fleas, a skin problem, or a sore spot.
In this article, I’ll go into more detail about why poodles lick and what you can do to discourage it.
Why does my poodle keep licking me?
Toy poodles, miniature poodles, and standard poodles are not alone in their love of licking their owners and other human friends- all dog breeds like to lick their owners and it is widely thought to be a sign of affection and greeting.
Toy poodles, miniature poodles, and standard poodles learn that licking is a sign of affection when they are puppies, as their mother and siblings regularly lick one another when they are in their litter. Licking is also done by dogs with those they are close to and is done by mothers to clean her puppies and stimulate their skin. Dogs lick each other for grooming and greetings, to bond and welcome one another. Mostly your poodle licking you is a sign of affection and love.
Puppies also lick their mother’s face as a way of signaling they are hungry too, so your poodle may be telling you they want a snack if they are licking your face a lot.
Another reason your poodle may be licking is that in the past when he has licked you you have shown a positive reaction to it- like petting him and fussing him when he has licked you. This has made him learn that licking gets him what he wants, encouraging him to plant those sloppy kisses!
It’s worth knowing that your dog may not necessarily know the difference between negative attention and positive attention, so if you’re pushing your dog away when he licks, he might not know the difference between this and see it as positive attention.
Another possible reason is that your skin is salty after exercising or eating, and your dog simply likes the taste. You can tell if this is the case if your dog only likes licking you if you have been exercising, sweating, or eating.
How can I stop my poodle from licking me?
So, as I’ve explained above, there is nothing sinister with your poodle licking you, it is most likely a sign of affection and is very normal dog behavior. However, understandably, lots of people don’t like being licked by dogs, especially if you’ve seen some of the things your poodle puts in their mouth when walking- like garbage and even poop.
However, it’s worth knowing that the old wives’ tale about a dog’s mouth being cleaner than human mouths and dog saliva having antibacterial properties are not true. Poodle’s mouths have lots of bacteria in them, good and bad, so don’t let your dog lick any broken skin or your mouth and wash your hands after your dog has licked them.
A lot of people really dislike being licked by dogs, from fear of germs to squirming at the feel of a dog’s rough tongue, so it’s worth knowing how to prevent your poodle from licking.
One of the best ways to discourage this behavior is by using a distraction technique. Whenever your poodle starts licking you, divert their attention to something else, such as a game or toy. If you repeatedly do this, your poodle will eventually get the message that licking is not something you want them to do.
Another useful thing to teach your poodle is a “sit”, “lay down” or “leave me” command, which can be used when your poodle is doing something that is disturbing you, such as trying to climb on you when you are working or unable to give them attention. If you can train your poodle to do something else and rest with this command, then it can be used when your poodle is trying to lick you too.
Don’t scold or shout at your poodle when they lick, as they won’t understand that they are doing something wrong and it won’t help them learn not to lick, only frighten them. With all poodle training, the best thing you can do is be consistent. This means everyone in your household following the same training. It’s no good if you always discourage licking but your partner encourages it, as your poodle will get mixed messages and become confused about what is right and wrong. So, you need to agree as a household what you will all do when your poodle starts licking one of you and stick to it!
Why does my poodle keep licking themselves?
Toy poodles, miniature poodles, and standard poodles lick themselves for lots of reasons, the main one being to clean themselves or if they have itchy skin. While licking a bit to clean themselves is normal, if your poodle is licking themselves excessively it could be because of a cut, fleas, allergies, or a skin condition, all of which may need medical assistance from the vet.
Poodles, like other dogs, are quite clean animals and will often clean themselves if they have gotten dirty or muddy outside. You will often see a poodle licking their paws after a run around somewhere muddy. Poodles may also lick their private parts to clean themselves too. While this is a little unpleasant to us humans, it is a way of a poodle keeping themself clean and is not something to worry about.
If your poodle has recently been spade, you should try and discourage them from licking their private parts, as licking could cause infection. If you are worried about this, you may need to get some advice from the vet about getting a collar for your dog while they heal.
While your poodle’s mouth does contain lots of bacteria and viruses, dogs cleaning cuts and small wounds can help them heal faster, but this is more likely due to the abrasive tongue, which cleans off dirt and dead skin cells allowing for faster healing. However, in some cases, licking can introduce bad bacteria into a wound and make things worse, which is why after an operation you will often see a poodle in a collar. If you are worried that your poodle has a cut that is not healing or has got infected, take them to the vet to get it seen to.
Another reason for a poodle licking itself is fleas. It’s very possible that you forgot to administer your dog’s usual flea treatment and they have picked up these annoying parasites somewhere. Fleas bite skin to feed on blood, leaving little itchy spots on your dog’s skin, which can in some cases become itchy and infected. The base of the tail is a spot where fleas particularly like, so if you see your dog focusing on this area it could be fleas. Infected and irritating flea bites can lead to a thinning coat and even bald spots in some cases, so make sure you administer a high-quality flea treatment to your poodle regularly!
Your poodle could also be licking because they are allergic to something or have dermatitis. If this is the case, they will have itchy and red skin in addition to licking. If you think this is the problem you should take your poodle to the vet to get checked over.
Another possible reason your poodle could be licking themselves is joint pain, if you notice your poodle licking and paying particular attention to their joints, you should take them to the vets to make sure they have not injured themselves or are suffering from arthritis.
So, if your poodle is licking themselves a bit it is quite normal and nothing to worry about. However, if you notice your poodle is licking one spot more than normal and there are signs the skin is irritated or sore you should take them to a vet to make sure your poodle is not suffering from a skin condition or has a wound you have not noticed. As a poodle’s fur tends to be long and dense, you may need to part the fur to check the skin underneath, but while doing this be careful not to hurt your poodle and if you poodle growls at you touching them, it may be they are in pain and need to be taken to the vets.