Why Do Dogs Lick You? (7 Reasons You Were Unaware Before)


How many times a day does your pet dog shower you with wet kisses? Chances are, you’ve lost count. Indeed, this activity happens so often that we usually can’t keep track of how many times our furry friends soak our skin with their licks.

But today, we’re going to dig deep to find out why dogs lick you. So that the next time you notice him licking, make you guess what sort of licking it is.

Interesting, isn’t it?

Let’s begin!

a blue leashed dog busy in licking a man's face

7 Reasons Why Dogs Lick You

If we sum up what dog experts, veterinarians, and many dog owners say about why dogs lick people, we can classify them into six broad reasons.

1) A Sign of Submission

A Dog kissing a girl's feet

Dogs licking obviously means he submits himself.

This trait is noticeable when dogs interact with humans as well as with other dogs.

But why?

Your dog licks your feet to show his submission to you, a role that makes him satisfied.

Also, oftentimes, your notice the moment you go to bed, your dog lies between your legs and starts licking your feet before you calm down and actually go to sleep.

Love, submission, care, etc. everything is inherent in your dog’s licking.

Do You Know?

As per FDA, people using fluorouracil cream must be extremely careful as even a small quantity of this cream, if consumed by pets, can make them sick or die even

2. Attention Grabbing

Dogs licking a woman's face

Some call it an instinctive behavior of dogs,


Do you know an interesting thing about the licking behaviors of canines?

Guess what!

Dogs licking is their learned behavior against human patting. Because he knows whenever he licks you, you stroke him, groom his hair, or hug him. So, whenever he needs your attention, he does this.

All because his tongue is the human equivalent of hands. The way we express our feelings with our hands, dogs do the same with their tongues.

Another way they try to grab your attention is when they’re awake before you and want you to get up.

That’s why most pet owners notice their dogs lick them early in the morning while still in bed.

I mean, there can be multiple reasons for grabbing attention, which you only can identify with your dog.

3. Stressing Out

A gir being licked by a dog

Unless your dog has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), your dog’s lick might be related to separation anxiety or others.

He might be having a lonely day when you’re out for an extended time, or

An additional restriction on his hanging out in the Covid-like situation; or,

He observes you being stressed.

So, he will try to stress himself by tucking out his tongue and licking you as much as you allow.

This means the next time your dog licks you excessively, rewind your memory if he had any no-walk period or been under any other kind of restriction.

Interesting Fact

Labradors Retrievers and poodles are among the most frequently licking dogs

4. It’s Their Way of Greeting

A dog putting his paw on a person's hand

You might have watched Marines’ homecoming-surprise videos in which the first one to greet him is neither his wife nor children.

Instead, surprisingly, his dog glomps on to greet him with a shaking tail and starts face licking.

So, the dogs lick people because it’s their way of saying them ‘welcome.’

So, now you may answer if someone asks you why do dogs lick you a lot.

5. A Way of His Telling He Loves You

A brown dog rolling his tongue over a lady's face

When you express your love to someone, what do you do?

Obviously, you hug or kiss him.

And dogs do this by licking your legs and face. This show of love by them isn’t restricted to humans only. Instead, their pups and other dogs they live with get the same affection.

This means you may call these ‘dogs kisses.’

6. A Signal That He Wants His Favorite Thing or Activity

Woman lying on sofa using smartphone, pet dog licking her face

Sometimes when your dog knows you don’t like his licking, he would intentionally does that to get what he wants another learned behavior of dogs.

Like your dog wants to get on the couch, but he sees you sitting there already, he will lick you to make you get off that couch.

And you would be forced to do it reinforcing his licking behavior.

7. Your Skin or Food Particles

a dog licking a woman's face

Your dog’s sense of smell is so strong that this is the sole reason he can identify his owner.

The salty elements in your sweat might be another source of attraction for licking you.


Dogs have the same craving for salt as we do

Especially, when you’re done with your exercise or swimming in the ocean.

That’s understandable, but why do some dogs lick your face after you have a meal?

It’s because your dog likes to taste your food, whatever is left on your face and hands. After all, your food may taste good to him.

When Dog Licking Becomes Annoying (Time To Stop him)

Oog' licking irritating the owner

When your dog’s licking becomes annoying, it’s time to say to your dog, “It’s enough, Rocky!”

Of course, when to say this, it depends more upon your mood and situation, but after all, it’s your temperament that can’t change that much.

So if your dog is licking you excessively every time you get near him, it’s time you stop him.

How to Stop Your Dog From Obsessive Licking?

Of course, you can’t stop him from permanently doing that. You need to make him understand that excess is bad.

The simplest solution here is: don’t reinforce his licking behavior by giving him attention when he does so.

Do you know what the best thing you can do here is?


Yes, divert them with whatever activity, like giving a chew toy to lick or throwing a ball away and asking him to chase.

Once he is back to lick again, get off quickly and repeat the process. If he starts doing away with licking, reward him with his favorite snack.

Sign That Your Dog Need An Expert

Dog expert Cesar with a dog

If you think your dog’s habit of licking is taking its toll and he isn’t sparing furniture even, it’s time you consult an expert dog trainer.

The dog trainer will first examine for any neurological problems if any. If there’s no such problem, he will perform a massage to get him to relax.

Another way he might use different therapies including swimming with him or making him run on the treadmill.

Is Dog Licking Poses Health Risks?

As far as intact skin is concerned, there is no risk associated with dog licking.

But if he licks any open wound in your body, a natural bacteria called Capnocytophaga canimorsus, which is unharmful for dogs but in humans case, it can make you sick.

What Does Veterinarians Say About Dog Licking behavior?

“Licking can be a sign of affection. It might also give a dog a feeling of security and comfort, just as the dog had when licked by its mother in the litter.” Dr. Mary Burch, director, American Kennel Club (AKC).

“Researchers of wild canids — wolves, coyotes, foxes, and other wild dogs — report that puppies lick the face and muzzle of their mother when she returns from a hunt to her den — in order to get her to regurgitate for them,” — Dr. Alexandra Horowitz

Celebrities With Their Licking Dogs

Tom Hardy being licked by his dog

The Bottom Line

The question as to why do dogs lick you have multiple but all good answers. Your dog may lick you out of affection, to get your attention, greeting, demand his favorite thing, taste your food, or stress out mere. Since they have fewer taste buds than us, they lick everything before deciding what is worth eating. If the licking is unusually high, consult a dog trainer or a vet. Your dog is your best friend at home, and you ought to make this bond stronger

How often your dog licks you? Give a big hug and let us know in the comments section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why do dogs lick you when you pet them?

They show you their affection because they feel the same comfort they used to have when their mother dogs licked them when they were young

Why do dogs lick you so much?

There can be multiple reasons, among which, is the most obvious is their show of love for you.

Why do dogs lick their lips when you pet them?

It’s an indication that they are extremely enjoying your petting.

Why do dogs lick your face when you cry

According to the researchers, dogs are responsive to human crying voices, and they want to comfort their upset owners.

Why does my dog lick my legs?

Licking your legs means he’s grateful to you for your time and food

Why your dog licks your face?

It’s a gesture of appeasement by the dogs and is normal social behavior.

Why does my dog licks me after I have a meal?

That’s because he wants to enjoy your meal remains in your mouth area and surroundings

Is it ok to kiss your dog on the lips?

As per most experts, it’s better not to kiss your dog on his mouth as there’re multiple bacteria in his saliva that may cause infection.

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