Why Do Dogs Lick You?

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If you’re a dog owner, you’ve likely experienced the feeling of your furry companion giving you a wet, slobbery lick. While it may be cute and endearing, you may be wondering why dogs lick their owners.

Photo by Guo: https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-dog-licking-a-woman-s-face-5090064/

Here are some possible reasons why dogs engage in this behavior.

  1. To Show Affection
    Dogs are social animals, and they use various ways to express their affection and love towards their owners. One way is by licking. Licking is a way for dogs to bond with their humans and show that they care.
  2. As a Form of Communication
    Dogs communicate with their body language, and licking is just one of the ways they express themselves. If your dog licks you when you come home, it may be their way of saying “hello” and communicating their excitement to see you.
  3. To Seek Attention
    Some dogs may lick their owners as a way to seek attention. If your dog is feeling lonely or neglected, they may use licking as a way to get your attention and to spend time with you.
  4. To Explore Their Environment
    Dogs are naturally curious creatures and use their sense of taste to explore their environment. Licking can be a way for dogs to taste new things, including their owner’s skin or clothing.
  5. To Show Submission
    In a pack of dogs, the submissive members will often lick the dominant members as a sign of submission. Your dog may be exhibiting this same behavior towards you as their owner, showing that they see you as the leader of their pack.
  6. To Relieve Stress and Anxiety
    Licking can be a self-soothing behavior for dogs. If your dog is feeling stressed or anxious, they may engage in excessive licking as a way to calm themselves down.
  7. Medical Issues
    In some cases, dogs may lick excessively due to medical issues such as allergies or skin irritation. If you notice your dog licking themselves excessively, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues. Some dogs that receive training can even smell issues like cancer.
Photo by Trace Hudson: https://www.pexels.com/photo/dog-licking-a-woman-s-neck-11280988/

While dogs licking their owners may seem like a simple behavior, it can have a variety of different meanings depending on the context. It can be a way for dogs to show affection, communicate, seek attention, explore their environment, show submission, relieve stress, or indicate medical issues. As a dog owner, it’s important to understand the reasons behind your dog’s licking behavior and to respond accordingly. If you enjoy being licked by your dog, it’s okay to allow it, but if the behavior becomes excessive or unwanted, you can gently redirect your dog’s attention or seek the help of a professional dog trainer.

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Reviewed by: Tim Winter

Tim Winter has dedicated his writing and research efforts to animals and wildlife. He explores the globe and sees firsthand the negative impact humans have on the environment. Tim is dedicated to promoting responsible environmental stewardship. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Advertising from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications.