My dog recently jumped on the couch and gave me a big lick. As his tongue slid across my face it occurred to me why does he always lick but even if I stuff my face in my other dog’s face she will never lick me.
If you have been asking yourself the same thing “Why do dogs lick people?” and “Why do dogs lick you?” and “What does it mean when a dog licks you?” then you have come to the right place. We will also touch on “Why do dogs lick their paws?” and of course some tips and tricks about how to stop your dog licking you as we answer some of these questions.
Dogs lick people and dogs lick you and themselves for several reasons, including:
- Affection & Attention
- We taste good
- Compulsion & Anxiety
Dogs Licking You For Affection and Attention
When my dog jumped beside me on the couch and gave me a big lick he was doing nothing more than trying to be affectionate and seeking my attention. Some dogs that do this will also be those that take their nose and try to flip your arm to pet them as well.
They are those that command your attention and licking is learned behavior dogs pick up that is positively reinforced since they quickly realize it works. When dogs lick you they realize that pet lovers, like us, will pet them and give them attention when they start licking.
Dogs Lick You to Say Hello as a Greeting.
If you have ever seen a mom pup return to a pack of pups you will notice that the pups give their mom a big lick which may be reciprocated. Your dog may be doing the same and giving you a big “hello, I am so happy your back” or that I am back with you.
You may experience your dog licking you excitedly after you get home from work or an outing, she’s probably just saying hello and expressing her excitement.
Dogs Lick You Because We May Taste Good
We know that you, like us, don’t exactly shower in bone broth (if you do want to we have the hemp dog bone broth recipe for you) but to dogs we may have subtle tastes on us that they love. Which will cause your dog to give you a big lick.
It could be a lick of a salty leg post workout or fingers that still have reminiscent smells and tastes of our last meal. Or after a treat your dog may lick you simply because she thinks you taste good. Dogs will lick you just like they lick anything else like stray spills and splatters.
Dogs May Lick You to Heal
The saliva on dog’s tongues have antibacterial in it and therefore on the tongue and, for dogs, licking wounds is an instinctive activity. It is within a dog’s nature to lick themselves and their human owners to heal and treat wounds and such licking may be even more prevalent if the cut or wound is painful or irritated.
But why do dogs lick scabs?
According to Cesar Malone “dog saliva has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that can aid in fighting against certain bacteria. Furthermore, when a dog licks himself, it helps remove dead tissue and clean dirt from wounds.”
As we discuss in “Should I let my dog lick my wounds”” there are studies that show Canine saliva is bactericidal against Escherichia coli and Streptococcus canis but only slightly, and non significantly and at the same time there are many studies that indicate dog bites can result in severe infection since a dogs mouth, although it may have antibacterial saliva, may cause infections.
Even though your dog may also lick your wounds instinctively to cleanse the wound it may not be beneficial to you or them.
Dogs May Lick You to Clean You
Dogs, like cats, lick their fur and paws to clean them. This is another licking behavior likely learned from their mothers as puppies as mother’s routinely clean their puppies by licking them. Your dog may, in turn, want to groom you, laying down beside you and licking your arm for as long as you’ll allow it.
Many people notice that their dogs lick their paws often which likely means they are simply cleaning them or it could mean they are in pain or need to be groomed.
Compulsion and Anxiety
As we discuss, in our various articles on dogs and stress and dogs and anxiety, and dogs with separation anxiety there are many dogs that are affected with anxiety.
Some dogs are compulsive lickers and use licking to manage anxiety. Dogs may do this by licking the same object or area over and over when they’re scared, nervous or stressed. Dogs with separation anxiety are commonly seen licking various items, a common reason for these emotions.
If your dog is licking due to anxiety and compulsion check out Calm our CBD hemp spray with hemp concentrate and calming terpenes in an easy and fast acting natural chicken flavored spray.
Dogs May Lick You to Communicate
Like dogs may lick you to say Hello and seek attention they may lick you to communicate in other ways as well. For instance, pay attention to me and look at me? A big lick from your dog can mean so many things that when you do get one you need to pay attention!
Dog May Lick You to Explore
Your dog uses their senses to sense their environment largely by sight, scent and taste. Sight and smell may be stronger than taste but for a dog, licking a surface is like reaching out to touch something – it’s just a bit messier.
How Do I Stop My Dog From Licking Me?
How you stop your dog from licking you will depend on the reason they are licking you, for instance if your dog is licking you to seek attention then giving them attention will likely ensure that they stop. However, if they lick you out of affection there may be little you can do but say no and divert him to other behaviors.
We hope we have decoded the reasons why your dog licks you and you can now answer “why my dog licks me?” with confidence. If you think of another reason that dogs may be licking you, let us know in the comments below.