Why Do Dogs Lick You? [2023 Update]

why do dogs lick you

As a vet, there are lots of questions that keep popping up. Questions that always relate to a dog’s behaviors, for example, why a dog is doing something, such as eating grass or behaving in some way like why dogs follow their tales.

One of these questions is: Why do dogs lick you? 

And since you are on this page, I’m going to assume that you might be wondering too, why does your dog lick you?

One of the most common explanations for this behavior is that licking is your dog’s way of showing affection, which might be true, however, there are multiple other reasons why your dog would lick you.

In this article, I will share some of these reasons, and how to stop it if it’s becoming a problem.

Let’s get into it.

Why Do Dogs Lick You

There are multiple reasons why your dog would lick you.

1. It’s a sign of affection

Your dog might lick you to show affection, it’s their way of saying “I love you”, and the reason for that is that, as puppies, their mom used to lick them whether for grooming or showing comfort, so instinctively they developed this kind of behavior.

Plus, in most cases, if you notice that your dog only licks you, this means that he’s trying to bond with you and sees you as his best friend.

2. To Get Your Attention

Another reason why your dog would lick you is to get your attention. Imagine the following scenario, your dog might be bored or just not happy so he sees you and comes to lick you. What do we do? Most of the time, we laugh and rub the dog’s coat.

That’s how they get our attention.

And, by laughing and rubbing their coat, or doing any kind of positive reaction to the dog’s licking, we encourage this behavior until it becomes a habit. So, if you like your dog’s licking and it’s in control, you can keep encouraging, however, if you don’t or your dog’s licking is out of control, it’s always a good idea to ignore or yell at him.

3. It’s Their Way of Greeting

You come through the door after a long day of work, and your dog comes running toward you and starts licking you. Who didn’t have this experience before?

When you don’t see your dog for a longer period of time, he will lick you, which is his way of saying: “hey, where have you been? I missed you”.

Also, as we use our eyes to go through the world, dogs use their noses which are far more stronger and receptive to smell than ours, and by smelling and licking you they get a roadmap to all the places you have been in and the things you have touched.

4. To Express Hunger

In the wild, wolves and wild dogs puppies would usually lick their mothers after a hunt whether to eat the meat from around their mouth or just to tell them they are hungry, and then the mother would feed her puppies.

If you pass your dog’s meal time, and he starts licking you he might be telling you that he is hungry and needs something to eat.

5. You Taste Good

From head to toe, we sweat, and oftentimes that sweat leaves a salty taste that most dogs would love to lick.

Usually, your dog will lick your arms, hands, and legs which get the sweatiest and leave salty chemicals that can make a good treat for your dog, he also might lick your face to get a taste of something good you’ve eaten.

Is It Safe for Dogs to Lick You?

It’s not news that a dog’s mouth and saliva are home to lots of bacteria that humans can’t tolerate, especially if it comes in contact with your mouth or any other skin break which can cause some real damage.

Personally, I always recommend that you don’t let your dog lick you, as dogs lick their coats, food, and a bunch of other things and you have no idea what’s in his mouth and saliva, so it’s always best if you put an end to this behavior or at least make sure that he isn’t licking your mouth.

How to Stop My dog from licking Me?

There are lots of ways to stop your dog from licking you, the most common one is trick training.

This video explains it very well.

Our Verdict

There are lots of reasons why our dogs lick us which can go from showing affection all the way to just exploring how we taste.

Generally speaking, it’s always best to stop your dog from licking you or at least stop him from licking your mouth and the area around it.

And always, I highly recommend that you consult your vet or a dog trainer if it’s getting out of control and starts becoming a problem, they will give you a better insight into your dog’s behavior.

John Alexander
John Alexander

John is a qualified vet and an expert in dog nutrition. He has been documenting his journey with dogs and writing about their nutrition for over two years now. He is the go-to person when it comes to dogs nutrition.

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