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Why Does My Dog Lick Me? 10 Reasons for This Behavior & Tips

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By Nicole Cosgrove

jack russell licking girl

Dogs are social creatures with different behaviors. For instance, you might have noticed that your dog loves to lick you. Perhaps you’ve been wondering why they behave this way. Is it a sign of affection, or are they prompting you to feed them or go for a walk?

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Understanding the Behavior: A Dog’s Tongue

A dog uses its tongue for numerous reasons, thanks to remarkable adaptability. Over the centuries, a dog’s tongue has become one of its primary parts. So you must view it as more than just a sloppy drool machine.

For starters, the tongue is what a dog uses to groom itself. Grooming is a vital dog behavior but, not all breeds do it. Additionally, the tongue acts as a way to cool off, especially on hot days. You notice the dog keeps its mouth open and pants to cool off.

Lastly, the tongue is a communication device that lets the dog express itself. That’s why when it wants to communicate with you, it uses the tongue. But you need to know the reason behind every lick.

The 10 Reasons Why your Dog Licks You

1. It’s a Habit

Just like humans, a dog can develop certain habits that it often does even without being aware. One such habit is licking. Do you wonder why your dog likes licking you even when it seems not conscious of the behavior?

Well, it has learned the habit and now does it willingly. It’s a bittersweet thing having a dog with a habit of licking you all the time.

dog licking boy
Image Credit: Sergey Lavrentev, Shutterstock

2. Expressing Anxiety

An anxious dog tends to lick its owner in a bid to prompt them to help it calm down. Try not to dismiss your dog when it’s licking you because it might be nervous. Dogs become anxious for numerous reasons.

The first is separation. Your canine friend prefers when you are around and gets super-anxious when you leave. The second is during thunderstorms, when there are loud noises that often scare dogs. The third is being in a new environment that the dog isn’t familiar with.

Perhaps you move houses, and the dog can sense unfamiliar dogs around the neighborhood. These reasons will make your dog super anxious, causing it to start licking you, seeking reassurance that all will be okay.

3. Lack of Exercise

When is the last time you took your dog out for a walk or to spend the day at the park? A dog will start licking you, trying to prompt you off the couch or take you away from your work. It wants to go for a walk, and licking is the best way to communicate.

That’s why you must be alert during such licks to decipher what the dog is trying to communicate. House dogs carry around lots of pent-up energy that they need to release by going outside. You will notice they start pacing and licking you when exercise time is approaching.

bernese mountain dog on the brown couch
Image Credit: Kristesoro, Shutterstock

4. It’s Hungry

Have you gone past feeding time because you were a bit preoccupied? It happens, but your dog won’t let you forget for long. You notice it carries its feeding bowl into the room and waits for you to see it is feeding time.

If you don’t, it gets closer to lick you in a bid to get your attention. The dog is saying it’s lunch or dinner time. Please come and feed me. Often, such licks are accompanied by whining or barking when you try to push them away.

5. Oral Issues

A canine friend with some oral health issues will try to lick that part that’s paining or uncomfortable. For instance, it may have a broken tooth or something lodged in between. You notice it smacks its mouth and starts licking things, including you. It’s searching for some relief.

When you notice such behaviors check its mouth, especially if it’s not feeding well. The dog is telling you there’s a problem, and you need to call the vet to book an appointment.

Dog licking paw
Image Credit: KPhrom, Shutterstock

6. Pleading for Your Food or Drink

As a dog parent, you know they love eating or drinking what you are having. Since they can smell the aroma, they get closer, hoping for a few bites. When you don’t notice them, they nudge you and start licking you.

Usually, they get up to your face and start licking around your mouth. The dog can smell what you are eating, and it wants a few bites.

7. Sign of Affection

As you play around the house, your dog’s pretty standard is to get up close and personal. You end up slobbered with saliva when they give you licks after licks.

By then, they are a bundle of energy full of excitement and want to show you how much they love you. All the licks that come your way when you are playing games are a sign of affection and love.

Another way to put it is ‘dog kisses‘ for their favorite person in the whole wide world. This is how they express the feeling they have towards you. The least you can do is sit there are and enjoy them, right.

jack russell licking woman
Image Credit: Anna Demianenko, Shutterstock

8. You Taste Salty

Are you fresh from a workout and haven’t had a shower yet? That’s why your dog is giving you lots of licks. Dogs enjoy licking the saltiness on your skin when you sweat.

9. Submission

At times licking is a sign of submission. It’s the same way puppies lick their mother’s mouth to show submissive behavior. The same happens with owners, especially when the dog constantly licks you on the face during stressful situations.

Perhaps you’ve reprimanded it for bad behavior, and it wants to get on your good side. You notice a change in body stance as it gets closer and starts to lick you on the face when it feels it’s safe to approach.

black shih tzu dog licking owner's ears while having fun outdoors
Image Credit: brickrena, Shutterstock

10. Calm You Down

Dogs can tell when you are under lots of stress and in need of some comfort. It can sense when something isn’t right, especially if it sees you crying. One way to help you calm down is licking to distract you from the matter.

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How to Stop Dogs From Licking You (5 Strategies)

Even though dogs enjoy licking pet owners as a way to communicate, not everyone enjoys the behavior. Maybe you are busy with some work or are on your way out. It’s better to find ways to stop the dog from licking you to curb the behavior.

1. Give It a Toy

One way to distract your dog from giving you lots of kisses is to give it a favorite toy or bone. Having something in its mouth refocuses its attention.

welsh sheepdog lying on grass with a ball toy in its mouth
Image Credit: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock

2. Let It Outside

Do you have a backyard with a good fence to keep the dog safe? It might be better to let it outside to run around and get rid of some energy. You can then resume your tasks without constant licks.

3. Take a Shower

When you get home from a workout, head to the shower if you don’t enjoy dog licks. It will deter your canine friend from licking you because you don’t taste salty.

4. Don’t Give It Attention

Ignoring your canine friend might seem cruel, but it’s an excellent way to teach it not to lick you all the time. Usually, when a pet notices that licking you means you give it treats, it becomes a habit. So, the best way to stop this habit is to ignore licks when you know it’s not hungry or needing exercise.

labradoodle on a leash looking up
Image Credit: Seth Weisfeld, Unsplash

5. Take It to the Vet

Dogs lick owners when they have an oral health issue and are trying to get some relief. Not to mention you catch them licking themselves excessively and other parts of the house. If you notice this behavior, take them to the vet for a checkup.



Conclusion: Why Does Your Dog Lick You

Dogs enjoy licking because their tongues play a primary role in their lives. It’s a behavior that they cultivate to communicate with you. Therefore, you need to know the reason behind every lick from your canine friend.

That way, you can act accordingly. Also, you can take action to change the behavior when you don’t enjoy frequent dog licks. The truth is as affectionate as licking is, it can be a health hazard.

Featured Image: Gladskikh Tatiana, Shutterstock

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