What does it mean when your dog licks you?

Posted by Argos, 28 April 2022, last updated 15 May 2023.

Maybe you have a new puppy who hasn’t stopped licking you since the day you brought them home, or perhaps your dog, who has been in the family for years, can’t resist licking your face. Either way, you may be wondering why dogs lick so much, and we can promise you are not the only person who asks this question.

Why do dogs lick humans?

So, why do dogs lick their owners? When it comes to their owners, a domestic dog may be licking you because they simply want to show you that they love you. Dogs lick to show their affection; that’s why you will see dogs licking each other too. They are born with an instinct to lick, particularly female dogs who naturally, and maternally, lick their own kin.

Some dogs may also lick their owners to get their attention, particularly if they have been left on their own for a little part of the day and are excited to see you. They could also be licking you to let you know that they’re nervous or scared.

Dogs are extremely intuitive animals and most dogs are able to sense some kinds of human emotions. For example, your dog likely knows when they’ve been naughty, some dogs even try to comfort you when you’re feeling sad. This could be another reason why your dog is licking you – to let you know they know what you’re feeling.

What does it mean when a dog licks your face?

Some dogs will have a preference as to where they lick you. If your dog is licking your face, it could mean that they love you.

If you notice that your dog licks your face at certain times of the day, for example, straight after you have eaten a meal or after you have had a shower, your dog could simply be interested in what it is that you’re putting in your mouth, or on your face.

How to stop a dog licking your face

simple commands, like sit and stay, try this with them when they start to lick. You can praise them with a treat, or a cuddle, and that way they know that they haven’t done anything wrong and can be affectionate in other ways.

What does it mean when a dog licks your hands?

Similarly to licking your face, licking hands could just be your dog’s preferred way of making their love known. However, hand licking can also be a sign of submission. Your dog or puppy might simply be wanting to show you that they know you are the leader of their pack.

If your dog associates your hands with giving treats or food, your dog could potentially be asking you for a treat if they think you are holding one in your hand. Get into a routine with your dog so that they know when to expect a treat. This could be after their morning walk or on an evening after they have finished their dinner.

How to stop a dog licking your hands

When a dog starts to lick your hands, slowly pull them away from the dog and ask the dog to sit, lay down or stay. If this dog hasn’t been trained commands, you could entice them with a healthy treat.

Why does my dog lick everything?

Your dog might not just be licking you, it can also be the case that your dog loves to lick everything in sight. Sometimes, a dog can find licking soothing and calming. A repetitive activity like licking the carpet or licking their favourite teddy can help them feel relaxed.

Licking the floor or other objects in the home, or outside, is sometimes their way of discovering the world around them (just like how babies put objects in their mouth). This can sometimes be dangerous for your dog, particularly outside where they could be licking things that might make them unwell, so it’s best to keep an eye on this behaviour and take them to a vet if you feel like the licking is getting out of control. It could be that your dog has a problem, but hopefully your dog insurance will cover any help that they need.

Why is my dog licking themselves?

Dogs do not just lick their owners or objects around the home. They lick themselves too and this can be for many reasons, such as:

  • They might have an allergy, particularly if licking their paws or skin
  • They could be anxious or nervous
  • They could be bored
  • They could have fleas or other parasites

From more information around this topic, you can learn more about why your dog is licking and chewing their feet at the We Talk Pet blog.

There is no harm in asking a professional for advice if you would like your dog to stop licking. If you’re worried about your dog’s health, you should always talk to your vet. Otherwise, you can head to our We Talk Pet blog to find out more about dog care and behaviour.

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