Why Does My Dog Lick Me?

You've just come home after a long day. Your furry friend is there waiting for you. So what does he do to greet you? He licks you! You love getting kisses from your dog, but have you ever wondered why he does it? Here are some of the reasons why your dog might lick you.

Affection and Attention

Dogs lick you to show their love. Licking triggers the pleasure centers of his brain, making him feel happy. When someone is around who also makes him feel happy, what better way to show affection than licking? It's also a great way of getting your attention, to let you know HE wants affection. When he licks you, you pet him. Over time, he's learned that if he wants pets, he should give licks.

Licking is also one of his ways of playing with you. Maybe in his younger days, he would bite you playfully when he got over-excited. Now, he knows you don't like that, so he uses his tongue instead of his teeth to let you know he wants to play.

Sensory Perception

To get a better idea of what something is like, you’ll usually reach out and touch it. Tactile contact helps you to better understand things around you. Unfortunately, dogs' paws aren't equipped that way. However, their tongues are. They're equipped with sensory cells that provide information about an object the same way your hands do. For this reason, dogs will often lick something to understand it better. So when your dog licks you, it could be because he wants to understand you better, or get the tactile contact that you typically get from touch.

Of course, those sensory cells are in addition to the main sensory function of the tongue: taste. Your canine companion might lick you because you taste good. Skin has a salty quality to it that's similar to the treats you give him. So when he's hungry, you're just one big treat.

Extreme Licking

It's possible to have too much of a good thing. It's difficult to get anything done around the house when your dog is always in the way, tongue first. What happens when your furry friend won't stop licking you?

If it's a sensory issue, try switching to a different soap or body wash, or wearing different perfume. Scent plays a significant role in taste, so if you smell different, you'll taste different. This might put your dog off licking you as much.

If he wants attention, find ways to keep him entertained on his own. Give him some toys to play with. Let him outside for a while if you're able to do so safely. If you have time, take him for a walk. This will provide stimulation that doesn't involve licking.

You might also have to train the behavior out of him. He knows that when he licks you, he'll get attention, so stop giving him attention whenever he licks. You can still pet him and give him plenty of love, of course, but be mindful of when and how you do it. If you’re not able to kick the habit with these pointers, consider talking to a dog trainer or canine behavioral specialist to help you train your four-legged buddy not to lick so much.

Even if it does get to be too much sometimes, at the end of the day, there's nothing like a few affectionate licks from your dog. As long as you can help him keep it under control, those licks of love and loyalty are one of the main perks of canine companionship, which can make both of you happier.