Why Do Poodles Lick So Much?

Are you worried about your Poodle licking itself, people, and everything around it? Licking in Poodles can be a way of bonding, grooming, expressing, and relieving themselves from an underlying problem. 

So, your Poodle may lick you to show affection, respect, or to get your attention. It might also lick you to enjoy the salt on your skin. 

why do Poodles lick so much
Why do Poodles lick so much?

However, if the Poodle primarily licks himself, it might signify the animal has an underlying health issue, and he is trying to get some relief. 

Want to learn more? This guide will take you through various reasons why Poodles lick so much to help you understand and help him.

So, Why Do Poodles Lick So Much? 

Poodles may lick due to a number of behavioral and medical reasons.

Poodle in studio
A brown Poodle in a studio.

Why Poodles Lick: Behavioral Reasons

These are licking traits the Poodle develops from repeated responses of the owner, other dogs, and other animals when it licks them. For instance, the Poodle may realize that licking is a great way to:

Show Affection

Licking can be a sign of affection. Poodles experience the first lovely lick from their mother at birth, as she confirms the puppies are breathing properly. They continue to experience the licks as their mother grooms them during development.

dog owner with Poodle
Dog owner busy working while with her Poodle.

Over time, the grown-up puppies learn that licking is a great way to show affection to each other and bond with their owners. 

While some dogs may lick to please you, others may use the privilege to enjoy the warm, salty sweat deposited on your skin. Human skin excretes sweat as waste. Since Poodles are attracted to human sweat, they can use their strong sense of smell to get to your face, legs, and hands to lick them in the name of affection. 

Communicate Their Need for Food

Puppies lick their mother’s nose and face to signal hunger. This behavior is observable among many canine breeds. So, repeated licking may be an attempt by your dog to communicate hunger the way they learned in puppyhood. 

hungry Standard Poodle tongue
A hungry Standard Poodle waiting for his dog food to be served. (Image: Instagram/@alikathepoodle)

Adding to this, I have witnessed young Poodles lick their mother’s muzzle and face before they suck. Considering the above phenomena, we can conclude that, perhaps, your Poodle licks you with the expectation that you will feed them like their mother used to.

Win Attention or Reward

Often jealous dogs seek their owner’s attention even when a rival isn’t present. Perhaps, your Poodle is using the licking trick to win your attention.

training a poodle
Training a large red-colored Poodle outdoors.

If you normally reward the Poodle in a certain manner (say, give it food or play with it), it may lick to remind you that it’s time for the reward. 

To Communicate Boredom

Yes, your Poodle may lick to let you know he is bored. This is more likely to happen if you have accustomed your canine to certain activities at specific times of the day, and you haven’t honored that. 

close up Poodle face
A close-up shot of Poodle’s face.

My favorite Poodle, ‘Milo,’ had a habit of licking my feet whenever I failed to take him for a walk in the neighborhood on Saturdays at 3:00 pm.

How To Manage Your Poodle’s Licking?

Dog licking may bring you joy. However, this isn’t true for everyone. Some people hate the feel of a dog’s rough tongue and the germs in the saliva.

If you aren’t fond of the habit, you should help the Poodle keep the tongue to himself. Below are some tips to help:

Apply the Distraction Method

The distraction technique uses something to distract your four-legged friend from licking. For instance, when the dog starts licking, you can throw a ball for it to chase. By repeating this every time your Poodle starts licking, he will eventually learn you are interested in the ball, not the licks.

owner plays with Poodle
The owner plays fetching game with his Poodle.

Other distracting activities include exercise, treat dispensing toys, and food puzzles.

Use Commands

A dog is conditioned, meaning you can use consistent commands to direct what is right or wrong. For instance, you can use commands like stop, sit, leave me, lay down, etc., to divert the animal every time it licks. 

Toy Poodle at café
Toy Poodle at a café sitting beside his owner.

Take a Shower

Though rare, some dog owners seldom bathe during winter and early spring. If you belong to this category, it’s important to note that your body excretes sweat which is deposited on your skin. And the sweaty smell on your skin could be why your dog is attracted to licking you.

After the shower, apply a dog repellent lotion or spray to keep the dogs away. Citrus-flavored lotions/sprays will do the magic. 

Cover Its Mouth

If your dog’s licking is uncontrollable, you can cover its mouth with a muzzle. Ensure you uncover the mouth only for feeding. Consistency is key, so continue this routine until your Poodle forgets the habit.

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If a muzzle doesn’t help, you may need to take your dog in for professional dog training.

Why Poodles Lick: Medical Reasons

Some common medical ailments cause the dog to lick its paws and skin.

Culprits may include:

Sensitive Skin

Poodles are more prone to skin infections, leading to more persistent licking than any other dog breed. Some common culprits of skin irritation include:

black Poodle licks lips
The black Poodle keeps licking his lips due to irritation.

Your Poodle’s skin might react to chemicals used on fabrics, toys, and lawn care. So, it’s always a good idea to watch your dog closely, especially when you visit new areas.

Bug Bites

Your Poodle may come across harmful insects that may bite, causing itchy red bumps to develop on the skin. As a result, the animal may repeatedly lick to relieve the pain.

Poodle needs some belly scratch
The Poodle enjoys belly scratches due to insect bites. (Image: Instagram/@nellie_thepoodle)

You can avoid this problem by using an antibacterial dog shampoo. You can also spray the grass with insecticide to kill the bugs in your yard. Be sure to keep your dog off the grass until the insecticide diminishes.

Allergic Reactions

Various allergens may irritate your Poodles skin, including dust, pollen, cleaning chemicals, etc. One way to avoid this kind of irritation is to keep your Poodle in an allergen-free zone.

Sebaceous Adenitis

Sebaceous Adenitis is a rare inflammatory disease affecting the sebaceous glands and is characterized by progressive hair loss and dry, itchy skin. It is one of the leading causes of non-stop licking in dogs. This condition is painful for the dog and should be identified and treated promptly to avoid unnecessary discomfort.

Poodle puppy shaved hair
A Poodle puppy has a skin condition that needs to be addressed. (Image: Instagram/@mikatheteacuppoodle)

Note: You can physically identify most skin problems discussed above by examining the animal. While you can deal with issues such as bugs by using antibacterial shampoos and spraying insecticides in your backyard, it’s important to note that other problems like sebaceous adenitis require treatment by a qualified vet. 

In addition, you should take the animal to a vet if it doesn’t cease licking after all the above attempts.

What if My Poodle Licks the Air?

Your Poodle will lick the air if something is stuck on the roof of its mouth or teeth. It would help if you inspected the Poodle’s mouth to remove any stuck substance to relieve it. However, the animal may lick the air due to more serious causes like:

Gastrointestinal Issues

According to PetMD, more than 60% of dogs with excessive air licking suffer from gastrointestinal problems. You can become more suspicious of a gastrointestinal problem (GI) if the air licking is accompanied by diarrhea, vomiting, lack of appetite, and a sensitive stomach. 

Gastrointestinal problems can lead to dehydration or cost the life of your Poodle. That means you should see the vet as soon as possible.

Stress-Related Compulsive Disorder

Dogs generally lick the air when stressed to trigger the brain to release the feel-good hormone to help counter the stress. However, the Poodle may become accustomed to licking the air even when not stressed.

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If your Poodle’s licking is accompanied by cowardice, tail tucking, and panting, then the chances are high that it’s suffering from a stress-induced compulsive disorder. You need to try modern dog training or contact an experienced dog trainer to help with the problem at this stage.

Final Words: Why Do Poodles Lick So Much?

Your Poodle may lick to attract your attention, to show affection, or to lick the salty sweat on your skin. However, sometimes the licking may be triggered by more serious causes like irritants or diseases such as gastrointestinal problems and sebaceous adenitis.

Although you can manage the behavioral causes independently, you should always take your dog to a vet if the self-licking continues for more than 48 hours.