Why do dogs lick? Find the answer!

24 June 2021

You are sitting on the couch relaxing after a long walk with your dog. Your...

dogs lick

You are sitting on the couch relaxing after a long walk with your dog. Your dog comes over, so of course you start petting her. But, as soon as you do, the licking begins. At first it’s okay, but suddenly, your dear pup starts licking your face like a lollipop. Sounds familiar? Do you wonder what all the licking is about? We have found some of the main reasons for all the wet kisses.

Dogs lick their owners for a number of reasons and understanding why your dog licks can help you in curbing this behaviour. The motivation for the licking appears to vary for different dogs and different circumstances. We have found some of the main reasons why most dogs lick:

They like the taste

Dogs may lick their owners 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.


Dogs may lick you to show affection. They learn this when they are young. So when your dog joins you on the couch and starts licking your face, it’s just a way of telling you that he loves you and wants your affection and approval. If you push your pup away after all the ‘kissing’ it might makes him try harder to lick you, thinking that he didn’t deliver his message well enough the first time. Even though all the licking might annoy you, please remember that your dog just want to show his affection for you and to strengthen the family bond he has with you.


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

To attract attention

To seek attention, dogs may lick your arm, hand or your face. 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, it may result into licking. In some cases, they simply just want your attention. In other cases, they are actually 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.

When is it too much?

If you think your dog is licking too much (especially if he is licking himself too much) there may be other reasons behind. If your dog licks excessively the same body parts, it is advisable to contact a vet. Dogs may be licking themselves to ease irritation of the skin caused by allergies. Additionally, a dog’s skin may be itching because of a bacterial or fungal infection. Other medical conditions that may lead to excessive licking include bone fractures and cancer. If you are in doubt 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? Or does it gross you out just a little bit? Every dog is different, and every relationship between dogs and humans are different. Share your thoughts and theories in the comments!

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