Do I just taste better?
December 26, 2010 11:00 AM   Subscribe

The dog prefers to lick me. Why?

My girlfriend has a nine year old female Australian Cattle dog. The dog loves licking my hands, and will happily lick them for several minutes at a time. However, she barely licks my girlfriend's hands, and if our hands are near each other, will completely ignore my girlfriend's hands in favor of mine. Why?

Possibly relevant information: I'm a woman too. The dog will lick my arms or legs, but prefers my hands, even when freshly washed. The dog has known me for a few months, and has lived with my girlfriend her whole life. Mosquitos also prefer me to my girlfriend.
posted by insectosaurus to Pets & Animals (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe your sweat is saltier?
posted by Sara C. at 11:13 AM on December 26, 2010

Does the dog not get enough salt in its diet? Does your sweat have more salt?

See if the dog prefers licking your forearms (or the back of your hands) to your palms. (No sweat glands on your palms.)

This is wild speculation.
posted by zeek321 at 11:16 AM on December 26, 2010

Do you two use different moisturizers or have different diets?
posted by chairface at 11:34 AM on December 26, 2010

Best answer: Anecdotal, but my sister-in-law is the only person in my family who gets licked by our dearly-departed German shepherd and our current black Lab. I figure it's a skin chemistry thing.
posted by xingcat at 11:40 AM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Does your girlfriend dissuade the dog from licking her? My dog prefers to lick the mister more than me, but I always assumed it was because I actively trained her to not lick me and he doesn't mind if she licks him.
posted by rhapsodie at 11:40 AM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have an old (14) Australian Cattle Dog who has always liked to lick my feet and shins. It's probably for salt, but you never know with an ACD.
posted by lobstah at 11:41 AM on December 26, 2010

Licking can be, among other things, a sign of submission. Perhaps the dog has learned not to lick the "old master" but wants to show submission to you, the "new" one in the group. Or perhaps, the dog perceives you as the "new master."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:44 AM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Perhaps you're just delicious!
Seriously, there's really no figuring out why dogs do what they do. Might be more salt, might be less salt, might be that the dog happens to like the taste of soap or conditioner, or lotion. Might be that the dog is trying to impress you, or feels like it can work you for treats or preferential treatment. Or it might be none of those.
posted by Gilbert at 11:56 AM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Do you use a particular lotion that your girlfriend does not? We used to have a dog that would go nuts about licking my legs after I used certain lotions or soaps. He never bothered anyone else the same way.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 12:10 PM on December 26, 2010

Reading a bunch of anecdotes about chewing and licking by cats and dogs, I think I see a pattern of spayed animals seeking out estrogenating compounds.

So I would guess you have/excrete more estrogen than your girlfriend.
posted by jamjam at 12:54 PM on December 26, 2010

Do you use different hand soaps? My dog loves to lick the residual soap off my hands and wrists after I've washed them. Apart from that he's not licky at all.
posted by trip and a half at 3:35 PM on December 26, 2010

As the newish person in the house, maybe the dog wants to show you that it's all cool.
posted by zippy at 4:04 PM on December 26, 2010

> Mosquitos also prefer me to my girlfriend.

I believe alcohol can be a factor in this. Does one of you drink more than the other?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 6:58 PM on December 26, 2010

Is your body language or eye contact towards the dog different?
Moisturizer might be the reason too - some of my pets seem to really like moisturizer as well as slightly damp hands.
Also for mosquitoes, see this article on WebMD.
posted by SarahbytheSea at 8:20 PM on December 26, 2010

Best answer: I'm going to guess it's something in your skin chemistry. My boss's dog (he brought her to the office) ALWAYS used to lick me constantly... it was almost like an obsession for her. I'd push her away and she'd come right back. (I say used to because bless her heart, she's at the Rainbow Bridge now.)
posted by IndigoRain at 2:02 AM on December 27, 2010

Best answer: Krueger is the 7th dog we have taken care of over the last 2 years, and he is the only one to lick me, and me alone, like I'm some sort of ice cream cone. I don't wear moisturizer, I clean up after the bathroom, don't sweat more than normal, don't drink or use any type of colognes.
So why the licking? I guess I would have to ask Krueger, and he's not talking!
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 8:53 AM on December 27, 2010

Just read Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin, who points out that humans are really good at generalized thinking (stop at stoplights, shake hands with strangers), while animals tend to learn specialized thinking (master makes me stop at this stoplight, shake hands when mistress extends her hand).

It's not unusual for a dog to display completely different submissive/affection behavior to completely different "pack members".
posted by IAmBroom at 4:19 PM on December 29, 2010

Response by poster: I marked the best answer as those who suggested it's just a weird skin chemistry thing, because that seems to be the answer.

I don't use lotion (and my girlfriend rarely does), we use the same soap, and the dog is happy to lick me endlessly immediately after I wash my hands. I do probably eat more salt than my girlfriend, but the dog actually prefers my no-sweat-glands palms over anywhere else on my body. It could be a submissive thing or a new-person thing, but there's just no way to know.
posted by insectosaurus at 12:22 PM on January 25, 2011

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