Why Do Dogs Lick Us?

Dogs Lick Us

I just got home from a long days work, ate dinner, finally sat down to relax and….my dog starts licking my face, hand, legs, feet, etc. I love my dog and all, but why does my dog keep licking me?

Why do dogs lick us? Dogs lick us to show affection, to get our attention, they like the taste of our skin, or it gives them comfort.

  • One of the main reasons Dogs lick us is to show affection. There is no better way for your Dog to say, “I missed you” or “I love you” more than by licking your skin.
  • Dogs also may lick you because they like the taste of your salty skin. Have you ever worked out or been outside in the heat and noticed your dog won’t stop licking you like a lollipop? Your salty skin is
  • Dogs may lick you to get your attention. Your dog may be telling you to “Fill up my water bowl!,” “play with me!”, or “I want a treat!”
  • Dogs may also lick you because licking releases endorphins which gives dogs a feeling of calm and comfort. In short, Licking helps relieve the stress built up from you being gone all day.

MY EXPERIENCE: One of my dogs LOVES anything petroleum based, like Vaseline. Lets just say when my Boys were baby’s, they got lots of Dog “kisses” on there arms and legs. Even if I use lotion, he will follow me around until he can get a taste. The same dog will lick our ears to “tell us secrets.” This is his way to show that specific person affection.

A dog licking any part of your skin can be a bit gross, even if your best fur friend means well. A dog learns from their mother at a young age that licking shows affection. In the wild, dog pack followers let the pack leaders know “I know you are in charge and I am following you” by licking the pack leaders.

How Do I Stop The Licking?

If you are like me, you don’t mind a few dog “kisses” every once in a while, especially from that cute puppy face. Alternatively, I do not want a full make out session. All of that slobber and drool all over my clean skin…NO THANK YOU! If you want your dog to stop licking you, try these…

  • As soon as your dog starts licking you, ignore them and walk into another room. It may be hard to break your dogs licking habit, but eventually, your dog will learn that licking causes you to leave, and they definitely do not want that. Whatever you do, DO NOT give them attention when they lick you. If you pet your dog after they lick you, that is telling your dog, “Lick me and I will pet you.”
  • You can also redirect their behavior by giving them a toy or bone to chew on. This will give them something appropriate to lick.
  • You can also give your dog more exercise. If your dog is licking you to relieve stress, a long walk or chasing a toy in the yard may wear your dog out, so they feel less anxious.
  • You can try taking a shower. I know it sounds silly, but if you remove the salt from your skin, your dog will be less likely to lick you.

It is always a good idea to inform your friends, family, and Pet Sitter of any precautions you want them to take around your Dog. (See “What Do I need To Tell A Pet Sitter?“)

Is Having My Dog Lick Me Safe?

Some may like “Dog Kisses” others may think it is gross. Whatever your thoughts are about having a dog lick your skin, you can rest assured. It’s relatively harmless to get daily “Kisses” from your Best Fur Friend, however, don’t believe the the myth that dogs’ mouths are cleaner than humans’ mouths. Dogs’ mouths are definitely are not cleaner! The bacteria count in both is similar, but the types of bacteria is very different. Most bacteria in a dogs mouth is harmless, but lets get real. Dogs generally do not practice good oral hygiene and they like to get into many gross things within the environment.

MY EXPERIENCE: We rescued a poodle mix at age 7 that had very few teeth due to disease. Our vet recommended Oral Cleansing Wipes over a tooth brush to use on her existing teeth because it was softer on her gums. Our old house had a small retention pond behind our house. We would get some ducks and small fish in it. One day, our poodle mix, brought us a half eaten fish skeleton from the back yard. She loved to lick us, but after that, you can say I would stop her from licking us immediately. She has since passed and every time I see a dead fish, it makes me think of her sweet gesture to share it with us. Any time my dogs bring me a less than appetizing treat, I use Chlorhexidine Antiseptic Wipes to kill any unwanted germs around their mouth and fur.

Should I Worry If My Dog Is Licking Too Much?

If you notice your dog starting to lick more excessively, it may not be reason for concern. There are a few red flags that may warrant a Vet consultation (See “What To Expect At A Vet Visit” or “How Much Are Pet Visits?“).

Has something significant to your dog changed that may warrant excessive licking?

Dogs are very intuitive. Any change to their normal routine can cause nervous behaviors, like excessive licking. Remember, Dogs LIKE your attention.

  • If you are usually around your dog for most of the day, then you go on a trip and someone else is caring for them. It would make sense that your dog would show signs of anxiety, like excessive licking.
  • If you are lucky enough to bring home a new baby boy/girl it may take your dog some time to adjust. Your dog will not be saying, “Congratulations on your new human baby!” They will most likely wonder who this stranger is and why are they getting more attention than me.
  • If you bring a new fur brother/sister home. Some dogs like being the center of attention and may not want to share that with another animal.

Has your dog been more on edge if you try to stop them from licking you?

You should consult a Vet if you notice this behavior is starting to affect your dogs overall behavior. They may be on edge, even getting more aggressive. This behavior could be OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) and would need to be treated by a professional.

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*This article is for information purposes only and any health concerns should be discussed with your veterinarian.



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