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Why does my dog lick me?

01.01.2024 - Reading time: 7 minutes

A golden retriever licks a hand

Dogs also lick themselves to clean themselves, but its main purpose is to communicate. Find out here what it means when your dog licks you.

Dogs don't primarily lick to clean themselves. Caring much less about their cleanliness than a cat, dogs just give themselves a little lick on their paws or genitals. Otherwise, licking is more of a communication tool for them. If you’re wondering why your dog licks you, be aware that there may be various reasons for this.


Why does my dog lick my hands?

A puppy who comes for a treat and then licks its owner’s hand is so adorable that they are often allowed to do it. As a result, what might have been a one-off or rare action becomes a habit. If your puppy or young dog also notices that their behaviour is amusing the crowd, it will be all the more reason for them to repeat their action. If you don’t mind your dog licking your hands, then everything’s fine. For many owners, this behaviour is rather unpleasant, even disgusting. You should therefore be aware that if you let your puppy lick your hand from the beginning, they will not suddenly stop doing it when they’re older. An adult Newfoundland has a completely different saliva production to a puppy of the same breed… It’s easier to teach them from an early age that certain things aren’t allowed in your home. Simply pull your hand away when your dog tries to lick it. Don’t make any exceptions and they will eventually understand that they can gently take the treat from you without licking your hand. They will find different ways to show their affection.

Why does my dog lick my arms?

Some dogs like to show their attachment to their owner by licking them. They often do so spontaneously and that most accessible area is the part that gets a friendly lick. While you are sitting down, your arms are within reach of a dog of a medium or large size. Perhaps they have come back from a walk with another member of your family, they are delighted to see you and let you know by licking your arms in the process. Once again, it’s up to you to decide whether or not this behaviour is acceptable. If your dog is the type to eat a little of anything they find during your walks, including excrements of other animals, you shouldn’t let them lick your arms.

Why does my dog lick my legs all the time?

Small dog breeds often have more access to your feet and legs than your arms. It’s not uncommon for a dog to lie under its owner’s desk while they are working there. In summer, when it’s warm, it’s nice to go barefoot and wear Bermuda shorts. If you stay in front of your computer for too long, your dog may try to get your attention by licking your leg. That means it’s time to take a break and go out and play ball in the garden or get a treat from the kitchen. Don’t worry too much about questions like “Why does my dog lick my arms?”. If it doesn’t become excessive, it’s normal behaviour. Every dog has its own way of communicating. One will sit next to you and look at you to signal that they are bored and want to go out, another will lick your toes. Make them happy and throw them their ball for five minutes. Dogs are so easy to please.

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Why does my dog lick my face?

Some owners enjoy their dogs “giving kisses”. This habit is often acquired when a dog is very young, when it first arrives in the family. The puppy will be allowed to cuddle with the children and lick their faces in return. Everyone will find it adorable until the day your faithful four-legged friend empties the cat litter. No more dog kisses! If you’re wondering why your dog licks your face, it’s because you have let them do so. If dogs lick each other, it’s their business, but you are not a dog and your beautiful furball can understand this. A dog that is not allowed to lick its owner’s face will not be unhappy for this reason. Don’t forget that your dog licks its own and sometimes other dogs’ intimate parts. Their saliva may therefore contain bacteria such as E. coli and other pathogenic germs. This can be dangerous for people with weakened immune systems, the elderly, pregnant women and babies. Don’t let them lick your mouth or children’s mouths. It goes without saying that your dog should not eat from your plate.

Why does my dog lick my ear?

If you have several dogs, you’ve probably already seen that one of them sometimes holds the other’s head between its front paws and carefully licks its ears clean. The other dog usually just lets it happen and even seems to enjoy the process. This happens with dogs who are great friends as well as with those who otherwise have little interaction. If your dog licks the ears of other dogs more than usual, it may be a sign of health problems. Check your dog’s ear for any redness or crustiness. If there is any, consult your vet. It seems that dogs also like the salty taste of earwax. If this is true, it explains why some dogs lick their owner’s ears.

Why does my dog lick me all the time?

Dogs owe their popularity as pets to their loyalty and affectionate nature. Man’s best friend wants to please its owner and has a number of ways of demonstrating its friendship. They will get excited every time you come home, whether you’ve been away for ten minutes or three hours. The reunion often involves joyful barking and some generous licks. It’s touching, but after a few moments, your dog needs to calm down and stop their outbursts of joy. If your dog continues to lick you, they are probably trying to make you understand something. Have you taken them for a walk today? Have they been at home on their own for a long time without being able to go out and do their business? Do they still have water or are they hungry? The better you know your pet, the better you will know what they are trying to tell you by behaving strangely. So if you’re asking the question “Why does my dog not stop licking me?”, there’s definitely an answer. Licking releases endorphins. A stressed dog therefore tends to lick you more.

What can I do to stop my dog licking me?

Have you been a little lax in training your puppy or have you adopted an adult dog and would now like them to stop licking you so often? It’s not too late to get your furball to stop this habit. Scolding your dog will probably not have the desired effect and would be unfair. Your dog won’t understand what they have done wrong. Instead, try to ignore them when they want to lick you and move away from them for a few seconds. Then come back as if nothing happened. Carry on with what you’re doing and if they stop trying to lick you, you can give them your attention again. Giving them a bone or a toy to chew on will keep them busy and give them something to chew and lick. If your dog’s excessive licking is linked to stress, use the opportunity to get some exercise yourself by taking them for a long walk. Dogs understand their owner’s emotions, and perhaps you needed to take your mind off things too. And what if your shower gel was the reason for your dog’s fascination with you? Coconut products are particularly appealing to our faithful friends. Buying a less appetising product next time could therefore provide a solution to your problem. Some smells, like peppermint or citrus fruits are not appealing to dogs.
If this doesn’t work, ask your vet or a behaviouralist for advice. They’ll be able to identify any details you may have missed and help you feel better about your canine companion.


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