What Does it Mean When a Dog Licks You?

If you’re a dog owner or have ever been in close contact with a pup, chances are you’ve been subject to lots of licks and slobbery kisses! But what does it mean when a dog licks you?

It must be that your furry friend is tail-waggingly happy to see you, right? While dog licks are often a sign of affection, there are a number of reasons why a dog may lick you.

Recognising the way our canines behave and communicate is a great way to understand them better and it will only strengthen the bond you share, so read on to discover what it means when a dog licks you.

Why does my dog lick me so much?

Our dogs communicate with us in a number of ways, from barking to whining, tag wails to head tilts, and of course, licks!

While being licked by your dog every now and again is pretty normal, excessive dog licks can be an unpleasant (and slobbery) experience. If it’s a frequent thing, your pup may be trying to tell you something.

As licking comes as a natural and instinctive behaviour to dogs, for them licking is a way of bonding, grooming, and expressing their feelings and emotions. Your dog may lick you to say they love you, to get your attention, to help calm themselves if they're stressed or upset, to show compassion, or because you taste good to them!

Keep reading to find out more reasons why a dog might lick you.

1. They’re sharing the puppy love

When dogs lick, happy hormones are released into their blood which makes them feel calm. So, whether your dog greets you excitedly with kisses when you return home or they’re just happy to see you throughout the day, most of the time, dog licks are a sign of love and affection.

As dogs are often licked by their mothers when they’re puppies, it’s believed they have a natural instinct to lick things to show love – especially their owners and favourite people!

If you want to share the puppy love, giving your dog a luxurious dog bath is a splashing way to pamper them. Here are our top tips for bathing your dog. And to truly spoil your dog, check out Yappy’s range of dog grooming accessories and soft, absorbent towels, which are perfectly personalised just for your pup.

2. You’ve eaten something tasty

If you’ve just eaten something tasty, your dog will probably want to lick up any stray crumbs, especially if you’ve got salt on your skin.

Whether you’ve got food remnants on your hands or face – you’ve been warned, dog licks are imminent. There’s also a good chance that they simply like the way you taste, food or not!

If you want to give your pup something else to lick (that isn’t your skin), how about these delicious dog treats?

3. They’re detecting your mood

Dogs are highly sensory animals and they can use licking as a sensory tool to gauge who you are and how you’re feeling.

A dog’s tongue has millions of sensory cells, so they may lick new people to understand them better.

Plus, as pheromones are emitted in our sweat, dogs can get a better understanding of your mood by licking and sniffing you as this sends signals to their brain which decode how you’re feeling. Talk about clever canines!

4. Your pup is showing they care

If your dog has ever given you a friendly lick when you’ve felt upset or ill, they may be expressing empathy and concern. Licking is generally a way for our pooches to find out more about us, you can also expect your dog to nuzzle and sniff you too!

5. They’re being submissive to you

Another reason why your dog may lick you is to express their submission and trust. You’re the leader of their pack, after all!

For dogs, licking the leader of their pack is typical canine behaviour that dates back to when dogs evolved from wolves in the wild. Dogs would lick their pack leader when reunited with them to show their obedience and loyalty.

6. For attention

Sometimes, your dog may just lick you for attention. Dogs are smart animals, and they may have learnt that by licking you they’ll get your attention. Your pup may be hungry, want to play, or just want your undivided attention.

What does it mean when a dog licks you excessively?

If you notice your dog licking you a lot, this may be a cry (or lick) for help. Your pup may be trying to tell you that:

They’re hungry

If your dog likes to mop up crumbs from your hand or face, they may be ready for their dinner, time to fill up their bowl!

They’re anxious

Excessive dog licks can occur if your pup has been left alone for a long time and they’re craving interaction. As pack animals, dogs are prone to separation anxiety if alone for a while as it causes them stress. As well as receiving attention from you, a cuddly toy will also help comfort your pup.

They want to be cared for

Domestic dogs rely on their humans to love and care for them. They may want a cuddle, to be petted, a walk, or just some attention from their best friend.

What to do when your dog keeps licking you

So we’ve covered what it means when a dog licks you and we hope this helps you to understand your canine friend much better. By monitoring your dog’s behaviour and their licking tendencies, you can gain more insight on why your dog keeps licking you.

If they’re after spending some quality time with you, a great way to give your dog your full attention is by playing with them! Here’s why play is super important to your pup.

Alternatively, if you're worried about your dog's health and anxiety levels, always contact your vet.

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