Have you ever wondered about the slobbery kisses of your dog? It’s a fundamental behavior of every dog, which has many meanings and purposes. This is a unique way for dogs to show their communication with us. They show their love and affection to their owners by licking them. This is also a good way for them to strengthen their bonding and connection with their owners. It not only reinforced their attachment to you but also made dogs feel happy. In this article, we will see the fascinating reasons behind why do dogs lick you.

Licking is a social behavior in dogs. During their puppy age, dogs lick their mother's faces to get attention. However, as they grow older, this behavior also transfers to their human family members. They do that to seek care and nourishment from their human family members. They are also licking you to communicate something. Maybe your dog is hungry, thirsty, or needs to go outside for a bathroom break. Licking can also help dogs to relax, reduces stress, and provides a sense of security. In short, there can be plenty of reasons for your dog's licking. Let’s unravel the mystery of your dog licking you.

Reasons Why Your Dog is Licking You

Dogs have a remarkable history of licking. They are known for licking their own paws and different body parts of their owners. Let’s see the different reasons why your dog is licking you.


Licking is one of the primary ways for dogs to convey their message to their owners. They can lick the face, hands, and other body parts of their owners to express their various needs, emotions, and intentions. They may be looking for something such as food, water, or an outside walk. So, in this situation, pay attention to them and fulfill their needs. However, they also start licking their owners when they feel anxious and stressed and wanted to communicate with their owners. This is something similar to humans who start nail-biting, or hair-twirling during stressful situations. If you notice any excessive licking, your dog may have some discomfort, pain, or skin irritations. So, make sure to consult with your veterinarian in case of persistent licking.

Grooming Behavior

Dogs also lick their owners as a form of their grooming behavior. Licking plays an important role in maintaining their hygiene and social bonds with their human family members. It keeps their fur clean, and free from dirt, debris, and parasites. Maybe your dog is looking to remove the perceived dirt or foreign substances from the skin. Licking is considered normal and a sign of affection for dogs, however, it has some boundaries and appropriate limits. If you notice any excessive licking as a form of affection, try to provide them with an alternate way to show their affection. However, too much licking is not good for both the dog and their owners. Make sure to consult with your veterinarian if you find any unusual behavior.

Taste and Exploration

Licking can also be a sensory experience for dogs to explore their surroundings including their owners. They love to taste and explore the different objects including the skin of their owners. So, you can expect them to lick you if they are curious about the skin, sweat, or any residue on your skin. They can also detect the scents and pheromones that are unique for everyone. However, it’s important to notice the licking behavior of your dog and ensure that it stays within normal limits.   

Display of Affection

Dogs love to show their affection to their owners, and licking is one of the common ways to show it. It’s a way for dogs to express their love and attachment. They learn this natural way of affection from an early age. Their bond with their human owners strengthens through licking. They show their trust, and loyalty towards their owners through licking. Dog lovers also like this gentle and comforting gesture from their dogs. Additionally, licking also promotes a sense of happiness and well-being in both the dog and the owner. However, it’s important to know that each dog has its own way of showing affection. If you think your dog is overly licking, quickly consult with your veterinarian.

Stress Relief

Dog licking is also stress-relieving for both the dog and its human companion as well. This self-soothing behavior of dogs helps them to cope with their anxiety, tension, and nervousness. This behavior helps them to relax by releasing endorphins and promoting relaxation. It also provides a sense of comfort and security for both the dog and the owner. If you think your dog is licking due to stress, try to keep them busy with other activities. Offer them interactive toys or puzzles and practice the positive reinforcement training techniques. However, consult with your veterinarian if you notice any inappropriate behavior.


Dogs also lick their owners for some positive outcomes such as attention, petting, or treats. This intelligent animal loves to repeat the behavior that is liked by its owners. Sometimes owners reward the dog’s licking with unintentional responses such as responding with laughter or petting. Sometimes owners intentionally reward their dog's licking through verbal praise, affection, or treats. Whether you are showing intentional or unintentional reinforcement, your dog is taking it as positive and repeating this behavior.

Health Issues

Sometimes dogs also lick their owners due to certain health issues. Some common health issues associated with dog licking include dental problems, nutritional deficiencies, skin conditions, gastrointestinal distress, and pain or discomfort.

Dental Problems: Your dog can lick you due to dental issues such as gum disease, tooth decay, or oral infections.

Nutritional Deficiencies: Nutritional deficiencies can also be the reason why dogs also eat non-food items. So, they start licking their owners to obtain essential nutrients.

Skin Condition: Dogs also lick their owners due to skin allergies, irritation, or infections. They alleviate itching or soothe irritating skin through licking.

Gastrointestinal Distress: Dogs with gastrointestinal distress such as upset stomach, nausea, or acid reflux also lick their owners. However, if you notice vomiting or diarrhea, quickly consult with your veterinarian.

Pain or Discomfort: Pain and discomfort is other health condition in dogs that make them lick their owners. In this condition, they try to seek attention and communicate their distress through licking.

When Licking is a Problem?

As we discussed earlier, mostly licking is a form of self-expression for dogs. So, you don’t need to worry about it. However, you must pay attention if you notice any of the below-licking behavior of your dog.

Obsessive Licking: Sometimes dogs excessively lick themselves, which can lead to skin irritation, hair loss, and secondary infections.

Injuries and Wounds: If you notice your dog is licking any specific areas of their own, there can be some injuries or wounds in that part.

Anxiety and Stress: Dogs start excessively licking when they are anxious or stressed. Make sure to take professional help in case of your dog’s anxiety or stress.

Allergic Reaction: Some dogs also lick their own paws, skin, or other body parts to relieve itching. These types of allergies are triggered by food and some environmental factors.

Medical Conditions: Licking due to certain medical conditions is also not good for your dog. These medical conditions include dermatitis, infections, arthritis, and neurological conditions.

Helping the Dog About Problem Licking

If your dog is facing the problem of licking, you must help them to pass through this phase. Take the below steps to help relieve their licking.

Identify the Cause

First, you must identify why your dog is licking excessively. This is very important to take any step to cope with it. You can consider the recent changes in your dog’s behavior or consult with your veterinarian to find out about it.

Provide Distractions and Mental Stimulation

Boredom is one of the major reasons for the excessive licking of your dog. Make sure to engage your dog in interactive play, provide puzzle toys, or introduce some other activities that keep them mentally stimulated.

Maintain a Consistent Routine

The changes in dogs’ schedules can also contribute to their stress or anxiety. They love to follow their routines and thrive on it. So, make sure to stick to their regular feeding, exercise, and sleep routine.

Ensure Proper Exercise

Ensure the proper exercise of your dog as it's good for their overall well-being. They love the daily walks, playtime, and other activities that release their excess energy and promote relaxation.

Practice Positive Reinforcement

Try to redirect the excessive licking of your dog and reward them with their favorite treat. Positive reinforcement techniques such as treats, praise, and affection are good to cope with undesirable behavior.

Provide Environmental Enrichment

Try to create a comfortable and stimulating environment for your dog, which include toys, chew items, and interactive games. This will help to distract them from their bad habits.

Use Deterrents

Use the deterrents to discourage your dog from licking any specific area. Make sure the deterrents are pet safe.

Consult with Veterinarian

In some cases, it’s necessary to consult with your veterinarian to address the problem of licking. He will recommend you specialized treatment to cope with the negative licking of your dog.

Is it normal for dogs to lick themselves excessively?

From all the above discussion, we can conclude that licking is normal behavior in dogs to communicate with their owners and show their affection. However, excessive licking can be due to certain issues with your dog. In short, excessive licking is not normal for your dog to try to consult with your veterinarian.

How can I discourage my dog from licking me excessively?

You can discourage them through some interactive toys. However, if your dog is licking any specific areas of themselves, use pet-safe deterrents.

Why do dogs lick me in the morning?

Your dog can lick you in the morning due to several reasons such as:

  • Greetings and Bonding
  • Routine and Familiarity
  • Attention Seeking
  • Rituals and Grooming
  • Communication and Excitement
  • Scent Identification
  • Habitual Behavior Reinforced by Rewards

Why do dogs lick me after I have eaten?

Your dog can lick you after you have eaten due to several reasons. You have to pay attention to insight to know the exact reason. Some of the reason your dog lick you after you have eaten includes:

  • Food Remnants
  • Social Bonding
  • Tasting and Exploration
  • Attention-Seeking
  • Reinforced Behavior

Should I let my dog lick my face?

It mainly depends upon your personal decision. Many dog owners love the licking of their dogs. However, it depends upon your comfort level and preferences. However, if you think your dog is licking you due to any health issue, you must stop them.


Licking their owners is a natural behavior for dogs. However, they can lick due to various reasons. We have to understand these reasons to help them. It’s ok if your dog is licking you to show affection. But excessive licking can be due to some health issue or some other uncertain conditions. In this article, we have explained everything about the dog’s licking behavior to better understand whether it's positive or negative licking behavior. This will help you to take action if you notice any unusual behavior regarding their licking.  

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