Why Dogs Lick – Understanding the Love Between a Pup and Owner

This is a scenario many dog owners find familiar. You go for a long walk with your canine friend, you come back home, you feed your dog, and then you sit down to relax.

But that is like an invitation to the slobbering party. Your dog jumps in your lap, and the moment you start petting him, your dog responds by licking you, and it turns into slobbering soon enough.

Why dogs lick is a question many owners ask themselves. And not only when they lick you, but also what does it mean when a dog licks your hand. Owners also want to know why does my dog lick himself so much.

Dogs lick themselves, and they also lick us. There are a couple of reasons why dogs lick.

Why Dogs Lick Their Owners?

Why Dogs Lick – Understanding the Love Between a Pup and Owner

The main reason why dogs lick you is affection. It is something they learn ever since they were little babies.

This is how the mother communicated with her new puppies, how she stimulates them to start breathing, and how she cleans them. Puppies learn that licking is an important aspect of communication right from their mother.

Bear in mind, when a dog licks you, that is a good sign. This submissive gesture is a way puppies show they are loyal and obedient.

The more subordinate members of a pack will always lick the more dominant members, in a way of maintaining pack harmony. When a dog licks you constantly, that means he has accepted you like the more dominant member of the pack.

They also lick their owner because they like the taste of the owner’s salty skin. We taste good, and dogs know that. In some cases, we have tiny food particles that our dog can taste and smell, and so they lick us.

Licking also releases pleasurable endorphins, which gives our gods a feeling of comfort and pleasure. After all, it is their way of showing affection.

If you want to know how do I get my dog to stop licking me, it is simple. Just ignore the licking. When your dog licks you, stand up, and leave the room. Your dog will understand that licking will result in you leaving the room, which will eventually help to stop the licking.

Why Dogs Lick Themselves?

Why Dogs Lick – Understanding the Love Between a Pup and Owner

Not only do dogs lick us, but they also lick themselves. There are a couple of reasons why they are doing that.

For starters, they are doing it as a form of grooming. You might think that your puppy is not much concerned about hygiene but think again.  Dogs lick to clean themselves, the same way cats do it.

They also do it as a form of healing. Dog saliva has enzymes that kill off bacteria, and when a dog is licking himself, he is trying to get rid of dead tissue and clean dirt from wounds.

Medical Reasons for Licking

Why Dogs Lick – Understanding the Love Between a Pup and Owner

  • – Dogs may lick their skin because it itches from allergies
  • – When dogs feel underlying pain from arthritis, they lick their joints
  • – Infections with bacteria, fungus, or parasites can make a dog lick excessively because they are itchy
  • – Last, but not least, dogs can lick themselves because of gastrointestinal issues

If you suspect the cause of the licking is medical, consult with your veterinarian.

Behavioural Reasons Dog Lick

Why Dogs Lick – Understanding the Love Between a Pup and Owner

  • – Boredom and anxiousness
  • – It is calming to dogs to lick themselves
  • – It is soothing for dogs to lick themselves
  • – Out of habit, as they associated getting a pet with licking

If the reasons for licking are behavioural, try to respond to the licking with predictability and consistency. That is if you want to avoid licking. Try to redirect their focus by giving alternative activities.

You can check out our previous dog articles down below:


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