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Why Do Dogs Lick You? 12 Super Cute Reasons

why do dogs lick you

Licking is an instinctive behavior in dogs. However, it can mean a variety of different things. It could be a way for the dog to act affectionate, to learn more about their surroundings, or to communicate with their owner. If you’ve been wondering why do dogs lick you, here are a few potential reasons:

Dogs lick to show affection.

When a puppy is born, its mother will lick its face in order to clear its nostrils. This will help the puppy breathe. It will also stimulate its blood flow. Young dogs might also lick their littermates in order to bond with them. Since dogs start licking when they’re young, they think of it as a sign of affection. They lick their owners to show them how much they care.

Dogs lick to communicate with you.

Wolves in the wild will often lick their mother’s mouth to communicate the fact that they’re hungry. Then the mother will regurgitate food from their hunt to fill them up. Dogs will lick their owners for the same reason, to signal their hunger. This is an instinct they still have, even though they’ve been domesticated.

Dogs lick to be submissive.

Dogs show submission by licking. They’re letting you know that you’re in charge and that they don’t mean you any harm. However, dogs also lick when they’re nervous. If your dog is licking during a thunderstorm or a loud argument, it could be an anxious response because they’re scared. This means a dog licking isn’t always a positive sign.

Dogs lick when something is wrong.

adult chocolate Labrador retriever
Unsplash / James Barker

Licking could be a sign of a medical problem, especially if they keep licking in the same spot. Your pet is trying to tell you something is wrong, but it’s your responsibility to figure out the problem. Licking could be a sign of anxiety, sensitive skin, or an allergic reaction. Either way, it’s best to schedule a visit to the veterinarian, so they can diagnose the problem and fix it properly.

Dogs lick because they enjoy the sensation.

Sometimes, the reason for licking isn’t that serious. Just like humans, dogs can get bored throughout the day. Licking gives them something to do. It keeps them occupied when there’s nothing else capturing their attention. Plus, they enjoy the sensation. It releases endorphins in their brain, which calms them down and brings them happiness.

Dogs lick to groom you — or to heal you.

You’ve probably seen dogs licking other dogs. This is because they’re grooming each other. But dogs want to take care of their owners, too. They will lick you if they think you’re dirty and need to be cleaned. They will also lick you if you’re in pain. If they notice a wound on your body, they will lick the spot out of concern. They’re trying to help in the only way they can.

Dogs lick to receive praise and attention.

Most owners think it’s adorable when their dog kisses them. They praise their dog, pet them, and cuddle with them. They might even reward them with treats. Seeing such a positive reaction encourages them to repeat the behavior more. A dog may lick because they think it’s what you want.

Dogs will lick out of curiosity.

A dog’s nose is strong, but sometimes they need to taste in order to learn more information about an object, animal, or person. They might lick another dog out of curiosity when they’ve never met each other before. Or they might lick your skin because they can smell food on you. They might even smell your sweat, which most dogs consider tasty. Either way, they want to know what the smell is, so they lick to find out more.

Why do dogs lick your face?

medium-coated brown dog during daytime
Unsplash / Jamie Street

When a dog licks your face, they might be expressing love or strengthening their bond with you. Licking feels good for them, and they assume it feels good for you. Since it releases endorphins, they’ll continue to lick you as long as you let them. However, there are other reasons a dog might lick your face. If it’s around feeding time, and they’re licking your mouth specifically, they might be signaling that they’re hungry. They want you to serve their food.

Why do dogs lick you on your hands?

Some dogs like the taste of salt. If there’s some sweat on your hands, then your dog might lick in order to get a taste. Dogs also have the ability to process and interpret the scented molecules found in human sweat. Licking your face can help them determine whether you are in a good mood or are feeling stressed.

Why do dogs lick you on your feet?

Dogs will lick your feet for most of the same reasons they lick your hands or your face. They want to bond with you, inspect you, and express their love for you. Licking can also be a sign of respect. Your dog is admitting that you’re their pack leader. They’re showing submission to you. Plus, if you have a big reaction when they lick your feet, since it’s ticklish, they might think it’s a game. It gives them the attention they’re craving.

Why do dogs lick you on your wounds?

A dog lick can actually be good for you. When dogs get hurt, they lick their wounds. If you get hurt, they’ll do the same because they consider you a part of their pack. They believe it’s their responsibility to take care of you. When dogs lick your wounds, they’re trying to cleanse you. Their saliva contains healing capacities, which is why ancient Egyptians believed a licking dog would aid in recovery or even cure an illness. But you should be careful. Letting them lick a cut too much could give you an infection.

Overall, a dog’s licking is harmless. However, the behavior can become compulsive, similar to a human biting their nails. If your dog is licking more than usual, then you should take them to a vet to make sure there isn’t a medical problem.


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