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Why Do Australian Shepherds Lick So Much?

Australian Shepherds are extremely social dogs and love to be around people. They’ll do many things to get your attention, and one of them is licking too much.

Many first-time parents worry about excessive licking. This licking is mostly harmless and doesn’t indicate any underlying medical problem. Let’s check out why an Australian Shepherd licks you too much.

Key Takeaways

Australian Shepherds lick their owners excessively out of love, to communicate, to relieve stress/anxiety, to show submission, out of habit, or simply to get your smell.

They may lick themselves for grooming, relieving pain, or if he is suffering from anxiety or stress.

The best way to stop an Australian Shepherd from excessive licking is to identify and eliminate the root cause.

Let's check out why an Australian Shepherd licks you too much.

9 Common Reasons an Australian Shepherd Licks Too Much

Australian Shepherds are known for being intelligent, caring, loyal, and affectionate dogs. They love to be in the company of humans and other dogs. Many breeds use licking, barking, wagging tails, or cuddling to communicate, show love, and relieve anxiety.


An Australian Shepherd may lick you to tell you that he needs something. Maybe he is thirsty, hungry, or needs to use the bathroom or go out for a walk.

Excessive licking may also indicate that he is happy to see you after a long work day and wants to play with or cuddle you. Make sure you don’t ignore your Australian Shepherd’s excessive licking, and try to understand why he is licking you too much.

Affection and Love

The most common reason Australian Shepherds lick you too much is they need your love, affection, and time. If you’ve left your Australian Shepherd alone for 4-6 hours, you may find him eagerly waiting for you at the door and jumping at you the moment you enter your home. He will instantly start licking you the moment you greet him.

Many dog trainers and vets recommend not greeting your dog with the same energy when you return. Instead, it is better to wait 5-10 minutes and then reward them with a treat so he knows that this behavior is unacceptable and he will get a treat if he waits patiently.

unacceptable and he will get a treat if he waits patiently.

Relieve Anxiety

Australian Shepherds may lick you or themselves to relieve anxiety, stress, and boredom. A dog that doesn’t get enough time to play, go out, or stay alone for more than 6 hours may develop stress and anxiety.

Your pup may suffer from anxiety or stress due to a change in routine, diet, or living space. If your dog shows other signs of stress/anxiety and excessive licking, engage them in playful activities, take them out for a walk, and exercise them to release the build-up energy.

You must take your dog to a vet if the symptoms persist.

Groom Themselves

Australian Shepherds like to stay clean and groomed. They may lick their furs to remove any stuck debris or dirt in their coat. They may lick their paws to remove dirt stuck there.

They are in Pain

Dogs can’t tell you that they are in pain by simply coming up and saying. They’ll bark excessively, cry, whine, or growl. If you don’t tend to them, they’ll start licking the area hurting them.

Your dog may lick his paws if he has a bacterial infection there. He may lick his fur if some pesticide has entered. He will lick his body if he has an injury. Excessive licking calms the pain temporarily and also alerts the owner.

pain temporarily and also alerts the owner.

Show Submission/Friendliness

Australian Shepherds also lick to show submission and friendliness. They’ll lick a new person or dog to show that they are okay with them and don’t perceive them as a threat.

An Australian Shepherd may lick to show regret when they are scolded. This represents that they are sorry for the unwanted behavior and will try not to repeat it; however, scolding or yelling at a dog doesn’t always work. Training your dog and rewarding them with a treat when they display positive behavior is better.

Behavioral Issues

Your dog may lick you or himself excessively if he suffers from behavioral issues like anxiety, stress, or depression.

There is nothing to worry about random licking or 10-20 minutes of licking daily. However, you must consult a vet if your Australian Shepherd continues licking without any reason.

They Lick for Your Sweat’s Taste

It may sound strange, but Australian Shepherds lick humans because they find the salty sweat tasty. They develop an appetite for your sweat and will grab every chance to lick you and satisfy their craving for your sweat and smell.

They learned it from their Mother

A mother Australian Shepherd licks her puppies to groom them. They learned this behavior from their mother when they were kids. Puppies may lick you out of their instinct, or they may be missing their mother.

Puppies may lick you out of their instinct, or they may be missing their mother.

Tips to stop your Australian Shepherd from licking you too much

Licking is a normal behavior for Australian Shepherds. However, you can train them to give up or reduce this habit if it becomes a nuisance. Consider the following tips to reduce your Australian Shepherd’s excessive licking behavior.

Identify the Reason behind Licking

The best way to deal with excessive licking behavior is to identify the reason. This helps develop a course of action to deal with the problem more effectively.

Training & Behavior Modification

These techniques work best if your Aussie licks you when stressed, happy, or scared. Teach your Australian Shepherd “leave command” and reward him with a treat whenever he obeys you. You can hire a trainer or a dog behavior expert for this task if common methods don’t work.

If your dog licks you in specific situations, such as greeting or when you are leaving, train him to show a more acceptable way to show his love. Walk away when he licks you, and train him to sit or shake hands when you return or leave. Walking away and not appreciating the licking will show your dog that licking is not acceptable.

Make sure that everyone in the family follows this behavior. If anyone encourages or appreciates licking and treats him, he will continue this behavior.

appreciates licking and treats him, he will continue this behavior.

Licking Treats

Licking treats divert your dog’s attention when he starts licking you. Give him a licking treat when he doesn’t lick your or when he tries to lick you. Ensure you don’t give him the treat or a toy after he is licking you, as it will encourage licking.

Exercise and Play Time

Many Aussies lick excessively when bored, have build-up energy, or don’t get enough playtime. Aussies are an active breed and like to play around. Take your dog for a walk, play with him, or give him plenty of toys. This ensures that he gets to burn the build-up energy and stay relaxed.

Tell them you are the Boss

Assert dominance over your dog if he licks to show you submission. However, being cruel or harsh towards your dog is not recommended as it can lead to behavioral issues and further increase licking problems.

Being consistent with your commands and training methods lets an Australian Shepherd know that you are the boss in the house and he must obey you.

boss in the house and he must obey you.

Pet Supplements

Give your dog pet supplements to help with anxiety. It helps keep them calm and reduces licking. Make sure that you talk to a vet before adding supplements to your dog’s diet.

Keep them Fed and Hydrated

Your Australian Shepherd may lick you excessively when he is hungry or thirsty. If your Aussie licks when his food or water bowl is empty, give him food. However, giving him food when he starts licking you will reinforce this behavior. Hence, ensuring that your furry friend stays well-fed and hydrated is important.

ensuring that your furry friend stays well-fed and hydrated is important.

Talk to a Vet

If the above tips don’t work, take your Shepherd to a vet. The excessive licking may be due to an underlying medical problem that a vet can only identify.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does licking become a problem?

Licking is mostly harmless on the dog’s part. It is the pet owners that get irritated by licking. However, excessive licking can sometimes be a symptom of a more serious problem, such as anxiety, stress, or boredom. Obsessive self-licking before sleeping can also indicate pain, allergies, or other health problems.

When to see a vet for excessive licking?

You should visit a vet if your Aussie is excessively licking one area of your body, licks an object excessively for long times, or licks surfaces such as floors, walls, and ground.

Why does my Aussie licks his paw excessively?

Excessive paw licking indicates that your Australian Shepherd is suffering from some sort of allergy in his paw. It could be a yeast infection, bacterial build-up, or small wounds. However, if paw licking is random and not obsessive, there is nothing to worry about.

Why does my Australian Shepherd lick me on the face?

Aussies lick your face to show affection and love. A dog lick on the face is mostly safe, and healthy people will not have any side effects. However, dogs’ saliva and tongue have bacteria and germs that can harm some people. An article published in The New York Times supports this claim. However, if your dog licks his bottom or tries eating dirty things, it is better not to let them lick you.

Why does my Aussie lick my legs and feet?

There is no particular reason behind an Australian Shepherd licking your feet and legs. He may find your smell attractive, or he is trying to show you love by licking, or he wants something from you.

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