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Should you lick your dog back?

Why Do Dogs Lick You & Lick Other People?

Why Do Dogs Lick You & Lick Other People?

There are a number of reasons dogs choose to lick people, and this is your guide to why dogs lick you or other people and how you can stop it, should you want to.

Table of Contents:

  • Why Do Dogs Lick Humans?
    • Grooming
    • You May Taste Like Chicken
    • A Way To Say Hello
    • Seeking Your Attention
    • To Tend To Your Wound
    • To Show Their Affection
    • Social Bonding
    • Do Not Reward Your Dog’s Licking Behavior
    • Have a Back-Up Plan Ready

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    title card lick

    Don’t you just love a good, slobbery kiss from your dog? Or how about the hot breath that comes with it?

    . maybe if it’s minty fresh, you may not mind at all 😉

    But why do dogs lick people?

    We can mostly chalk it up to the fact that dogs love to groom their humans. Grooming is a great way for your dog to bond with you and show their affection! However, there are may be reasons besidesgrooming that dogs choose to lick their owner or lick in general.

    Why Do Dogs Lick Humans?

    Licking is a natural behavior that dogs inherit when they are born. Dog moms lick their puppies to clean and take care of them., s part of their genealogy, their wolf ancestors used licking as a sign of affection and submission (albeit they licked inside each other’s mouths, so count yourself lucky that you’re getting it on the cheek!).


    article grooming

    Naturally, dogs lick their fur, skin, and paws to clean themselves. This is their way of ensuring good health and keeping their coat clean. So that is exactly what they may be doing to you.

    Grooming is a behavior dogs learn at an early age from their mother. A mother licks her pups to keep them clean and to take care of them. It also helps stimulate puppies to go potty, and stimulates puppies in general to help them assimilate to the sensations of their new world.

    The behavior itself is learned and carried forward to their kin, or in your case, their pup parent.

    You May Taste Like Chicken

    Well, maybe you don’t literally taste like chicken, but you definitely taste good to your dog.

    We have a salty taste from our sweat that dogsfind intriguing.

    Something less obvious is that we carry food particles all over our bodies, on our hands, and around our mouths. We may not be able to see these crumb-sized particles, but your dog knows they are there because of their high-ranking sense of smell.

    A Way To Say Hello

    article saying hello

    Since dogs can’t form the word “hello” or “good morning,” they often barrel in for a lick. Maybe they just woke up and are happy to see you, dreaming about the excitement they’ll experience in the new day. Or maybe they are delighted that you returned home from a long day at work.

    Whatever the case may be, your dog could be giving you a lick to simply show they are happy to see you.

    Seeking Your Attention

    Similar to greeting you with a lick, dogs may lick to tell you they need something. Licking you may be their best resort in communicating their needs to you.

    It could be that they’ve learned they get attention from you when they lick you. Watch closely next time it happens. One lick is all it takes to get you to give your dog a tender stroke on the head, a much-needed belly rub, or your loving voice to acknowledge them.

    On the other hand, your dog may be trying to tell you something. Since they can’t take their bowl to the kitchen sink and fill it themselves, maybe they are asking for water. Maybe they need you to open the door so that they can use the restroom outside. Whatever the need is, you’ll have to play detective here, though the more time you spend with your pup, the easier it becomes to pick up their cues and know what they want from a single lick.

    To Tend To Your Wound

    Is your dog licking you in a particular area? Perhaps you have a cut or a wound within the vicinity of the lick? This is a common reason for dogs to lick because they want you to heal.

    When your dog licks a wound, it softens it, loosening and removing bacteria or dirt that may be surrounding it. This is beneficial as it prevents infection from setting in and boosts the process of healing, and it’s how they tend to their own wounds in the wild.

    article tend your wound

    Dr. Doggo is just doing his rounds, but you’re better off bandaging up that cut and keeping it away from the bacteria in your pup’s mouth.

    To Show Their Affection

    Dogs are humankind’s best friends, so what better way to show affection than with a big, wet kiss? We are sure that they’d tell you they love you if they could speak the language, but since they can’t, actions speak louder than words.

    Dogs have strong senses. When they are concerned, they may come over to you to comfort or calm you. That’s when they’ll nudge you a little and give you that lick, letting you know they are checking in and that they are there for you.

    Social Bonding

    With love comes bonding. And with bonding comes licking.

    article social bonding

    Plenty of animal species use licking to bond with one another. Social bonding specifically relates to binding ties or bonding with family, and guess what? You are a part of your dog’s pack, their family. When your dog gives you a lick, they may be working to strengthen your companionship.

    Did you know that licking releases oxytocin for both you and your dog? Oxytocin is known as the love hormone. It strengthens bonds between two people (or between a human and a dog). It also relieves stress, leaving both you and your dog happier at the end of the licking session.

    Should I Let My Dog Lick Me?

    The answer is up to you. A once in a while lick is rarely of no concern.

    That said, licking is not inherently a threat but you should gauge when it may be unsafe for your dog to lick you.

    Do you know what is living in your dog’s mouth? People typically don’t get sick from their dog licking them, but in some rare cases, some people have contracted illnesses such as sepsis, hookworm, ringworm, and more.

    Remember, dogs use their nose and mouths to experience their surroundings. Their mouths nearly serve as our hands to interact with the environment. It wouldn’t be surprising if they passed through dirt, or worse, tasted another animal’s feces.

    It can happen, so it’s best to save those kisses for when you’ve been inside for a while — we don’t recommend letting your pup give you a thank you kiss right after the dog park.

    How To Stop Your Dog From Licking You

    Is the licking just too much for you? It’s okay to admit it.

    Some owners indulge in those wet kisses, and others are disgusted by it. If you are part of the latter group, here are some ways to deter your dog from licking you or your visitors.

    Do Not Reward Your Dog’s Licking Behavior

    Rewards don’t always come in the form of a scrumptious treat, so you may not be aware that you are rewarding them in the first place. Your dog may feel rewarded by you acknowledging the lick with a gentle pet or any type of vocal praise.

    Next time your dog comes in for the lick, politely look them in the eye and give them a firm “no” command, lightly pushing them away from you.

    If you prefer a different training method, simply walk out of the room when your dog approaches you for your grooming session. Your dog wants to be with you, so it should click quickly that their licking behavior is the cause of you leaving them in the room.

    Have a Back-Up Plan Ready

    If you find that your dog is licking you to relieve stress or because you taste good, it’s best to have a backup plan ready to sway their needs. A good alternative is a toy or a tasty bone. When your dog swoops in to groom you, distract them with the toy or bone. If it has a better flavor than that of your skin, it’ll be a win-win situation for you and your dog.

    Another option is to replace grooming with exercise. This works for dogs who choose to groom you to enhance social bonding. Take your dog for a walk or play ball in the backyard to avoid doggy breath and added saliva. It’s beneficial to you both as you’ll strengthen your relationship, reduce tension caused by stress, and burn calories in the process.

    Dog Licks — We Love ‘Em

    When dogs lick you, or other people, it is a form of instinctive grooming that is taught to them when they are born. It is a normal behavior that dog owners either embrace or frown upon. It’s used to strengthen relationships and provide a level of comfort.


    Why Do Dogs Lick You? (7 Reasons You Were Unaware Before)


    How many times a day does your dog lick you crazily? Of course, you can’t count. In fact, it’s so common with us that we can’t even remember how often our furry friends make our skin wet with their tongues.

    But today, we’re going to dig deep to find out why dogs lick you. So that the next time you notice him licking, make you guess what sort of licking it is.

    Interesting, isn’t it?

    Table of Contents

    a blue leashed dog busy in licking a man's face

    7 Reasons Why Dogs Lick You

    If we sum up what dog experts, veterinarians, and many dog owners say about why dogs lick people, we can classify them into six broad reasons.

    1) A Sign of Submission

    A Dog kissing a girl's feet

    Dogs licking obviously means he submits himself.

    This trait is noticeable when dogs interact with humans as well as with other dogs.

    Your dog licks your feet to show his submission to you, a role that makes him satisfied.

    Also, oftentimes, your notice the moment you go to bed, your dog lies between your legs and starts licking your feet before you calm down and actually go to sleep.

    Love, submission, care, etc. everything is inherent in your dog’s licking.

    Do You Know?

    As per FDA, people using fluorouracil cream must be extremely careful as even a small quantity of this cream, if consumed by pets, can make them sick or die even

    2. Attention Grabbing

    Dogs licking a woman's face

    Some call it an instinctive behavior of dogs,

    Do you know an interesting thing about the licking behaviors of canines?

    Dogs licking is their learned behavior against human patting. Because he knows whenever he licks you, you stroke him, groom his hair, or hug him. So, whenever he needs your attention, he does this.

    All because his tongue is the human equivalent of hands. The way we express our feelings with our hands, dogs do the same with their tongues.

    Another way they try to grab your attention is when they’re awake before you and want you to get up.

    That’s why most pet owners notice their dogs lick them early in the morning while still in bed.

    I mean, there can be multiple reasons for grabbing attention, which you only can identify with your dog.

    3. Stressing Out

    A gir being licked by a dog

    Unless your dog has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), your dog’s lick might be related to separation anxiety or others.

    He might be having a lonely day when you’re out for an extended time, or

    An additional restriction on his hanging out in the Covid-like situation; or,

    He observes you being stressed.

    So, he will try to stress himself by tucking out his tongue and licking you as much as you allow.

    This means the next time your dog licks you excessively, rewind your memory if he had any no-walk period or been under any other kind of restriction.

    Interesting Fact

    Labradors Retrievers and poodles are among the most frequently licking dogs

    4. It’s Their Way of Greeting

    A dog putting his paw on a person's hand

    You might have watched Marines’ homecoming-surprise videos in which the first one to greet him is neither his wife nor children.

    Instead, surprisingly, his dog glomps on to greet him with a shaking tail and starts face licking.

    So, the dogs lick people because it’s their way of saying them ‘welcome.’

    So, now you may answer if someone asks you why do dogs lick you a lot.

    5. A Way of His Telling He Loves You

    A brown dog rolling his tongue over a lady's face

    When you express your love to someone, what do you do?

    Obviously, you hug or kiss him.

    And dogs do this by licking your legs and face. This show of love by them isn’t restricted to humans only. Instead, their pups and other dogs they live with get the same affection.

    This means you may call these ‘dogs kisses.’

    6. A Signal That He Wants His Favorite Thing or Activity

    Woman lying on sofa using smartphone, pet dog licking her face

    Sometimes when your dog knows you don’t like his licking, he would intentionally does that to get what he wants another learned behavior of dogs.

    Like your dog wants to get on the couch, but he sees you sitting there already, he will lick you to make you get off that couch.

    And you would be forced to do it reinforcing his licking behavior.

    7. Your Skin or Food Particles

    a dog licking a woman's face

    Your dog’s sense of smell is so strong that this is the sole reason he can identify his owner.

    The salty elements in your sweat might be another source of attraction for licking you.

    Dogs have the same craving for salt as we do

    Especially, when you’re done with your exercise or swimming in the ocean.

    That’s understandable, but why do some dogs lick your face after you have a meal?

    It’s because your dog likes to taste your food, whatever is left on your face and hands. After all, your food may taste good to him.

    When Dog Licking Becomes Annoying (Time To Stop him)

    Oog' licking irritating the owner

    When your dog’s licking becomes annoying, it’s time to say to your dog, “It’s enough, Rocky!”

    Of course, when to say this, it depends more upon your mood and situation, but after all, it’s your temperament that can’t change that much.

    So if your dog is licking you excessively every time you get near him, it’s time you stop him.

    How to Stop Your Dog From Obsessive Licking?

    Of course, you can’t stop him from permanently doing that. You need to make him understand that excess is bad.

    The simplest solution here is: don’t reinforce his licking behavior by giving him attention when he does so.

    Do you know what the best thing you can do here is?

    Yes, divert them with whatever activity, like giving a chew toy to lick or throwing a ball away and asking him to chase.

    Once he is back to lick again, get off quickly and repeat the process. If he starts doing away with licking, reward him with his favorite snack.

    Sign That Your Dog Need An Expert

    Dog expert Cesar with a dog

    If you think your dog’s habit of licking is taking its toll and he isn’t sparing furniture even, it’s time you consult an expert dog trainer.

    The dog trainer will first examine for any neurological problems if any. If there’s no such problem, he will perform a massage to get him to relax.

    Another way he might use different therapies including swimming with him or making him run on the treadmill.

    Is Dog Licking Poses Health Risks?

    As far as intact skin is concerned, there is no risk associated with dog licking.

    But if he licks any open wound in your body, a natural bacteria called Capnocytophaga canimorsus, which is unharmful for dogs but in humans case, it can make you sick.

    What Does Veterinarians Say About Dog Licking behavior?

    “Licking can be a sign of affection. It might also give a dog a feeling of security and comfort, just as the dog had when licked by its mother in the litter.” Dr. Mary Burch, director, American Kennel Club (AKC).

    “Researchers of wild canids — wolves, coyotes, foxes, and other wild dogs — report that puppies lick the face and muzzle of their mother when she returns from a hunt to her den — in order to get her to regurgitate for them,” — Dr. Alexandra Horowitz

    Celebrities With Their Licking Dogs

    Why Do Dogs Lick You? (7 Reasons You Were Unaware Before) Tom Hardy being licked by his dog

    The Bottom Line

    The question as to why do dogs lick you have multiple but all good answers. Your dog may lick you out of affection, to get your attention, greeting, demand his favorite thing, taste your food, or stress out mere. Since they have fewer taste buds than us, they lick everything before deciding what is worth eating. If the licking is unusually high, consult a dog trainer or a vet. Your dog is your best friend at home, and you ought to make this bond stronger

    How often your dog licks you? Give a big hug and let us know in the comments section below.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    Why do dogs lick you when you pet them?

    They show you their affection because they feel the same comfort they used to have when their mother dogs licked them when they were young

    Why do dogs lick you so much?

    There can be multiple reasons, among which, is the most obvious is their show of love for you.

    Why do dogs lick their lips when you pet them?

    It’s an indication that they are extremely enjoying your petting.

    Why do dogs lick your face when you cry

    According to the researchers, dogs are responsive to human crying voices, and they want to comfort their upset owners.

    Why does my dog lick my legs?

    Licking your legs means he’s grateful to you for your time and food

    Why your dog licks your face?

    It’s a gesture of appeasement by the dogs and is normal social behavior.

    Why does my dog licks me after I have a meal?

    That’s because he wants to enjoy your meal remains in your mouth area and surroundings

    Is it ok to kiss your dog on the lips?

    As per most experts, it’s better not to kiss your dog on his mouth as there’re multiple bacteria in his saliva that may cause infection.


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