You’re sitting on the couch relaxing after a long walk with your dog. Your dog comes over, so of course you start petting them. But as soon as you do, the licking begins. Suddenly, your dog is licking your face like a lollipop! Sound familiar? While this is totally normal behavior for your dog and others, you probably want to know – why do dogs lick you so much? Discover the top reasons why dogs lick you (and other humans) below. Plus, find out when licking may be a sign of a health issue in dogs that may need addressed.

Why do dogs lick you so much?

Dogs lick their human family members and friends for a number of reasons. Understanding why your dog licks you can help you better understand your furry friend. The reason for the licking is different for each dog and the circumstance. But here are some of the top reasons why dogs lick you:


The first way to understand a dog’s licking behavior is as a form of communication. While dogs can’t talk like humans do, they do communicate in many different ways. Licking is one such form of canine communication. For example, your dog might lick you to say, “I like you”, “I’m feeling nervous” or “I’m hungry”.

It can be difficult for us humans to interpret dog language. Whereas humans use language to communicate in specific terms, dogs communicate mostly through their body language and posturing1. So the next time your dog licks you, pay attention to their gestures to try and figure out what they might be telling you.

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Speaking of communication, one reason why dogs communicate through licking is to show you their affection. Yes, your dog’s slobber all over you is probably a sign that they love you. They learn this when they are young; puppies lick their mothers and vice versa. So when your dog joins you on the couch and starts licking your face, it’s just their way of telling you that they love you and want your affection and approval.

Do you love when your dog licks you? It makes sense – bonding with your dog can be stress relieving. Learn more about the amazing social and health benefits of having a dog.

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They like the taste

Dogs may lick their people because they simply just like the taste of the skin. This may be caused by traces of food on your skin or just the taste of salt and scents on your skin. Or, maybe your dog just really likes the taste of your face cream or body lotion. It’s the same when dogs are licking the bowl, the floor after a spill, or the counter after you’ve been cooking – they simply just like the taste.

Hungry or thirsty

If your dog starts licking you around feeding time, it might just be their way of telling you “I’m hungry”. Or maybe the water bowl is empty. Chances are your dog needs something to eat or drink. So if you want to stop the licking, bring water and food.

To get attention

Another reason why dogs lick you is to get your attention. First, they might try to attract your attention with a tap using the paw, a nose nudge or barking. But if they noticed that you do not pay attention to these attempts, they may start licking. Dogs who want attention may lick your arm, hand or your face.

In some cases, they simply just want your attention or a good belly rub. In other cases, they may be trying to tell you something – like “Hey, I need a potty break”.


We’ve all met dogs for the first time, offered a hand for them to sniff, and found our hands licked in return. To explore the world, dogs lick new people and things. Even if you’ve had a dog for years, you may have touched something new which makes your dog curious. Dogs lick people because they are curious and because it’s their way to learn about new sensory experiences.

brown and white collie dog laying on a black table, veterinarian with stethoscope checking him

When is it too much?

If you think your dog is licking too much (especially if they are licking themselves too much) there may be other reasons behind it. If your dog licks the same body parts excessively, it is advisable to contact a vet.

Dogs licking themselves a lot may be suffering from

  • canine allergies
  • bacterial or fungal infection
  • wounds
  • bone fractures
  • cancer
  • pain
  • anxiety

If you’re in doubt about whether the licking is too much or not, it’s always a good idea to contact a vet.

Do you enjoy being licked by your dog?