Why do Dogs Lick People?

why do dogs lick people

Dogs, just like other pets have their sets of bizarre habits. Amazingly, some of such habits are lovely and cute while on the flip side, some of such habits are outright gross. So you might be wondering why dogs lick people?

However, you can’t completely blame your pooch for some weird habits she puts up because some of such habits are her unique and evolutionary approach of communicating with you since she can’t speak your language.

Very outstanding and common about the various bizarre habits of dogs is licking. As a matter of fact, your furry friend may pick undue interest in licking various parts of your body –face, ears, hands, mouth, and even your feet.

Some questions most dog owners (you inclusive) always need a precise answer to is the question about “why do dogs lick people?” “Is it really a problem if my dog licks me?”

Well, these are questions that have received so many answers and viewpoints from the various canine experts. Although some of such answers aren’t certain for why dogs lick, most experts agree that and some of the likely reasons why your pooch lick people include;

Common General Reasons Why Do Dogs Lick People

  1. She May Be Saying “You Taste Good” The slightly salty taste on your skin is an intriguing taste that gets most dogs licking their owners or people around them. More so, according to many canine experts, liking is a way in which your dog explores her world. Obviously, you are a part of that world she has to explore.
  2. She May Be Seeking Your Attention. Most canine experts categorize licking that implies attention from your dog as a licking habit that was reinforced by your reaction. Such reactions that could spur your dog into licking as a way of getting your attention include; petting, smiling, laughing, or even offering her some treats.

    However, experts also confirm that even negative reactions such as punishing her, pushing her away, or even saying no to her may also encourage licking since she noticed that you didn’t ignore her downright.
  3. Licking Could Mean An Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior. Prolonged anxiety and stress are seen as a major cause of obsessive-compulsive disorder in many pets – although very rare in dogs.

    Regular licking of self, humans, and other surfaces by a dog could turn out a habit to worry about, and if you observe this about your dog, you may have to talk to a vet or an animal behaviorist for guidance and medication that could help relieve your pooch of anxiety.
  4. She May Be Expressing Her Affection By Licking. There is usually a high chance that licking from your pooch may be a way of her telling you that she loves you. Yes, it’s possible, and this is why many dog owners see licking from their dogs as “kisses”.

    Most dogs take licking people or even their fellow dogs as a way of expressing affection, and this is a natural habit a dog learned from the grooming affection shown to them as puppies.

    However, if your dog doesn’t lick, it is not an indication that she doesn’t have affection for you. It could be an indication that her way of expressing her affection isn’t through licking – she probably must have learned things in a different way as a puppy.

Why Do Dogs Lick People’s Faces

why do dogs lick people's faces

Obviously, one of the hardest things canine experts are yet to assure pet owners of is the ability of their furry friend to speak human language. So, since dogs can’t communicate with you through your language, the best she can do is use somebody or behavioral languages to “communicate” with you.

Like you would rightly guess, one such behavioral language your dog can use to express herself is by licking- yes, licking your face. In case you’ve ever sat back to think of why your face, and not any other part of your body, the reason is rooted very deeply in their DNA.

The Main Reason Dogs Lick Face?

As puppies, a mother dog usually licks her puppies to groom as well as to stimulate food digestion and urination in her young puppies. And before puppies are bold enough to open their eyes, they already understand the calming and soothing feeling of being groomed by their mother, and this they do to each other as well.

So, as the main reason why dogs lick your face, it is simply an accumulated effect and behavior of pack members among dogs, right from when they were puppies.

Other Face-licking Reasons In Dogs?

  1. She Needs A Taste Of Your Last Snack. Besides being a pack behavioral trait among dogs, another good reason why dogs lick faces include getting pre-digested food from the mother dog by the puppies, and they also do this to get snacks from the mother.

    So, when you keep receiving those doggie face-licking behavior (rather, doggie kisses) from your dog, it is because you are invariably acting as a treat and attention-giving god. Similarly, it could be that your furry friend can stick to perceive the snack you had last, and she wants at least a fair share of it.
  2. A Show of Submission or Apology. Like you would already know, dogs are pack creatures with a pack leader. And as a way of greeting their pack members or showing that they are sorry for wrongdoing, they usually lick each other’s faces.

    In both cases, it is the junior pack member or the guilty party that does the face-licking while the pack leader or the offended stands tall and doesn’t reciprocate the face licking.

    So, in your case, it could be that your dog is seeing you and communicating to you as the pack leader in your home, and would always want to greet you with a face lick. If this is not the case, maybe she is your furry friend may be feeling guilty or submissive about something she’s done – you never can tell, maybe it’s time to check around your cushion or the new pair of shoes for some scratches.

Why Do Dogs Lick People’s Ears?

why do dogs lick people's ears

Exclusive ear licking is another good sign of affection from your dog, although it may feel annoying to some dog owners. Why do dogs lick people’s ear, you may ask?

Canine experts have come up with some convincing reasons why you may have your furry friend reaching out to your ear for a lick. Some of the reasons for a great eagerness by your dog to lick your ears include;

  1. Love for Ear Wax. Although this may sound gross to you, the truth remains that dogs have a special thing for the smell and taste of your ear wax.
  2. Show of Love and Desire for Affection. Ear licking by your dog is another way to whisper to you that she needs your attention because she loves and enjoy your time with her.
  3. Submission and Service To You. An ear lick from your dog could also imply a sing of submission to a foo-bring god which you are, and in return, you deserve some good clean-up with an ear lick.
  4. Boredom. Although absurd, this is true about your dog licking your ear. Licking your ear by your dog could be a way to occupy her mouth especially when she feels bored all alone.

Why Do Dogs Lick People’s Mouths?

why do dogs lick people's mouths

The part of the body – the mouth, which is being licked in this case by your dog sends a very obvious and literal meaning of a kiss whenever she aims for your mouth.

This behavior in dogs is seen as a trait they learned during puppyhood when the mother will literally ‘kiss’ her puppies on the mouth as a way of expressing her mothering bond and love to her litters.

As a matter of fact, although those motherly licks and kisses may sound very normal, to a dog and her litter, such licks mean more than just any other regular loving lick that is shared between a mother and her puppies.

  1. It’s Her Way Socializing With Her Food-Giving god. More so, kissing the mouth by a dog is more of an act of socializing with you as well as a pleasurable venture for her regardless of how you may see it. Well, those slobbery kisses from your dog may not sit well on you, but to your dog, it is her best way possible to pleasure herself.
  2. A Polite Way To Say “Stay Away”. There are usually some strict codes of conduct which the canine world respect so much, especially when it has to do with body space, sudden movement or eye contact.

    In some cases, a good slobbery kiss on the lips from your dog could be a polite way to caution you from invading her private or body space.

    Canine experts show that well-nurtured dogs don’t like to have their face pushed up directly facing yours as a way of showing their dominance. Instead, those slobbery kisses around your mouth could be the best way she can politely tell you to back off, especially when you are pushing hard on her.
  3. It’s a Way of Sensing Where You’ve Been And Your Activities. Just like dogs licking other parts of the body, some series of short little kisses around your mouth, especially when you just returned from an outing is a way of getting information about where you’ve been, whom you saw and what you possibly came in contact with while you were away.

Why Do Dogs Lick People’s Hands?

why do dogs lick people's hands

In most cases, when you observe that your dog is giving you a slow, long, and sloppy lick on your hands, it assumed that she’s sending a message of love and affection across to you.

  1. A Show of Respect. Moreover, licking has been a practice from the puppy stage for your dog, and so licking your hand could be a way to bring back the good old memories of puppy hood. Also, she may be licking your hand with a keen gaze that sends a message of respect to you as the pack leader of your home.

    In the same vein, hand licking from your dog seems to be the best way of greeting you and also a way of having a taste of your slightly salty skin. Also, as a way to express her affection to you, your furry friend may be licking your hand in an attempt to tell you that you are loved and therefore deserves good clean-up with her licks.
  2. Expression of Expectation From Your Outing. With the powerful sense of smell which dogs are known for, hand-licking by your dog could also be a way of getting information about where you went to, and possibly to know if she has some treats from your outing.
  3. Desire For Interaction and Attention. Although uncommon, another reason why your dog may be licking your hand- rather in a frantic fashion could be linked to a feeling of fear and anxiety from separation. This usually happens when your dog has spent some time in isolation, and so she really desires some affection, interaction and attention from you.

Why Do Dogs Lick People’s Feet?

why do dogs lick people's feet

As mentioned earlier, licking by dogs is a learned behavior from the mother right from when they were puppies. In most cases, the mother licks her puppies to stimulate waste elimination, to clean them or to even check up on her puppies.

Besides these reasons, dogs also lick as a way of gathering information about something. And this, they do sometimes in addition to smelling since both tasting and smelling can provide them with the much-needed information. Surprisingly, your feet have a lot of such information to tell your dog.

Unknowingly to you, the sweat glands on your feet release pheromones which are chemicals that give your dog enough information about your mood, where you went, whom you saw, or even what you did where you went to.

In addition, another reason why your dog licks your feet is probably that she expects some reactions from you, and such reactions could be that you’ll talk to her, move around or even laugh. All these may even serve as a reinforcement for your dog to keep on the licking habit.

More so, feet-licking from your furry pooch may be an indication that she is feeling anxious or having some anxiety disorder she’s battling with. In such cases, feet-licking from your dog is usually accompanied by some signs of stress such as;

  • Short tail wags
  • Yawning or Panting
  • A crouched posture
  • Fast
why do dogs lick people

Should I Allow My Dog To Lick Me?

Answering the question of whether or not you should allow your furry friend to lick any part of your body is somewhat relative, especially with regards to your dog’s level of hygiene.

Well, before you get carried away into allowing your dog to lick you uncontrollably because of the ‘myth’ that a dog’s mouth is literally cleaner than a human’s mouth, hey, you may just have to be cautious about your dog licking you.

Most importantly why you should be careful about your dog licking any part of your body, especially where there is an open wound is the fact that a dog’s mouth contains microorganisms that may be harmful to you when in contact with an open wound – think of rabies from a dog bite.

Wrap Up

Licking various parts of the body is a very common behavioral habit that is common to dogs. This, they learned from their mother as a way of showing love and caring for her litter.

Having your dog lick your face, mouth, ear, hands or even feet should be done with extreme care to avoid the infection of an open wound by bacteria and other microorganisms resident in your dog’s mouth.