As much as we love our dogs, their behavior sometimes defies all logic. We watch in total horror, shock, or amazement as our dog does something disgusting (or absurd or alien). We’ve all had those moments when we look at our pet and wonder: Who are you? Why are you doing that?!
Some dogs, for example, love to lick their owners’ pants or jeans—not because your clothing is covered in gravy or bacon fat, or even the scent of a strange dog you met at the pet store. Why, then, do some dogs love to inexplicably lick our pants? WHY?
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact answer, but there are a few possibilities, which we’ve outlined here.
In some cases, licking is a bonding behavior, so your dog may be trying to show affection or admiration to maintain your love connection.
If you’re standing with your dog nearby, your pants or jeans are the only part of you your dog can reach (other than your shoes). She may just think your pants are part of your body!
Your dog may simply like the flavor of your clothing because it tastes familiar and comfortable, the way a human might sleep with an old shirt belonging to someone we miss. Or perhaps you’re using a fantastically delicious laundry detergent.
Your dog may also like the texture of your clothing and enjoy the sensation of licking the fabric you’re wearing.
Licking behaviors can be a sign of anxiety in dogs. Dogs will pick up some of the stress we carry, or they will feel an emotional impact if one of their humans experiences a dramatic mood shift, becomes pregnant, or suffers an illness.
Anxiety can also be an indication that your dog is carrying pent-up energy she needs to release. The answer here is more play time, companionship, and exercise. These activities will allow your dog to channel that energy out through her body, rather than turning that frustration on herself or her external environment.
Licking can be a symptom of several different medical issues. Your dog may not be getting enough of the nutrients he needs. In this case, licking is a sign of hunger. Even if your dog has eaten plenty of food, his body is craving an essential mineral or vitamin. Problems with the adrenal glands or the liver can also cause dogs to lick abnormally and excessively.
If your dog is licking more than just your pants, but also the floor, couch, or carpet, and licking a lot, check with your veterinarian to see if there may be an underlying medical cause.
If your dog loves to lick your pants, this may be a harmless quirk, but if the habit becomes over-the-top and you have a hard time distracting your dog, you might seek medical guidance. If you want to learn more about why dogs lick in general, we have an article for you!