Why is My Dog Licking Me?

Have you ever wondered why your pup licks you so much? Licking is a behavior your dog learned when they were a puppy. It makes them feel relaxed and secure. There are many explanations why your pup may constantly be giving you smooches.

Your dog could be licking you because they are demonstrating their affection for you. It could also be  that they feel empathetic towards you if you have had a grueling day. Your pup could even be licking you because you just ate a tasty pork chop, and they can smell it.

Being on the receiving end of a great big sloppy dog kiss is part of being a dog parent. If you would like to understand more about why your dog is licking you, check out this article.

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Why is My Dog Licking Me?

There are countless reasons why your dog licks you. It could be anything from showing affection to being stressed or bored. Whatever the case, dogs certainly make their mark on pet parents who adore them. They have their distinct way of communicating with us. The following include some reasons why your dog may be licking you:

They Are Greeting You When You Get Home

It is the most common scenario for dog parents. When you work all day, your pup feels elated to see you walk through the front door. They may run up to you barking and give you a great big sloppy kiss. They are saying, “Hello, I missed you.” They may also not be able to contain their excitement. Expect that if you are away for hours, your loyal pup will be right there to greet you when you get home.

Licking is a Biological Instinct

When puppies are first born, their momma licks them to stimulate breathing. Puppies learn from an early age, through instinct, that licking is a sign of love from the mother to her babies. Puppies will, in turn, lick their mother when they want to be fed. Dogs will often lick each other to show respect.

If the dogs are bonded, they lick each other to demonstrate their bond and affection for one another. When they lick you, it is a sign that they view you as their parent, and they want to give you some love.

They Think You Taste Good wolves licking their pup as instinct

Researchers have discovered that these wild pups lick their mothers when they return to their den from a successful hunt:

  • Wolves
  • Coyotes
  • Foxes
  • Jackals

When the mother has had a tasty morsel, the pups will attempt to get their mother to regurgitate it for them. Your dog might want to lick you when you are sweaty after a hard workout, as they enjoy the salty taste of sweat.

Your dog could also want to lick your hands after you eat your food. Pups love the smell of meat, and they would take every opportunity to lick you, especially if you just ate a juicy piece of chicken or steak.

They Are Demonstrating Their Affection for You

Licking can be a way that your dog shows affection for you. Some wild dogs will lick members of their pack to welcome them home. It gives your pup a feeling of security and comfort. The continuous licking stimulates the release of endorphin, which helps them to be calm. Dogs receive affection from their mothers, which continues with humans when they are adult dogs.

They Are Showing Empathy

Dogs, as well as other animals, can feel empathy for us. They can understand and respond to human emotions. If you have a rough day, you may notice that your pup will come over to you and lick your face to make you feel better. When a dog hears their human crying, the dog feels compelled to help.

A research paper was published in the journal of Learning & Behavior, where researchers explained that dogs with strong bonds to their pet parents hurried and pushed the door open when they heard their human crying. Many dog parents have experienced their pup licking the tears off their faces when they cry.

They Are Trying to Communicate a Need

Your dog may be licking you to try to get your attention and tell you that there is something that they need, such as:

  • Food
  • Water
  • A trip to the bathroom
  • Wanting to Play

In the wild, puppies will lick their mother’s lips when they are hungry. Domesticated dogs will usually bark or lick your face when trying to communicate a basic need.

They Are Feeling Anxious

Dogs who have separation anxiety may be overzealous when you come home. They may lick and kiss you all over. Your pup may also become anxious when there is discord in the home, such as fighting or if you become agitated. Dogs pick up on emotions and know when you are not happy. It may make them anxious, which prompts them to lick you. You can make them feel better with:

  • Pets
  • Kisses
  • Cuddles
  • Offering sweet and encouraging words in a way that soothes them

They may also become anxious if there is a significant change, like having a new pet in the home. They do not know this animal who has suddenly appeared, which could make them feel uneasy and nervous. You must slowly introduce new pets into the home, make sure your dog feels comfortable, and gets acclimated to the change.

They Are Cleaning You

Animals groom themselves and each other. It is a learned behavior, as they were groomed by their mothers when they were puppies. Dogs like to keep their coat clean, and proper hygiene decreases the likelihood of potential health problems. When your pup is licking you, they may be trying to help groom and clean you.

They Are Being Submissive

Dogs in the wild in packs will lick the dominant dog or the pack leader. Your dog sees you as being the alpha dog. They respect you and look up to you. It is another reason that they lick you.

Licking and grooming are not always a sign of submission, but if your pup may be showing submissive behavior if their licking is paired with these behaviors:

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Rolling onto their back
  • Tucking their tail between their legs

If your dog exhibits any of these actions and licks you, take it as a compliment. They are letting you know how much they respect and admire you.

They Are Trying to Heal You

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Sometimes, dogs may like to lick the cuts or wounds sustained by their human. They are trying to help you heal, and they may also enjoy the taste (Yuck!). Little did you know, your pup has healing powers. When your dog licks your wounds, it can help loosen and get rid of any germs or dirt surrounding the injury, which helps to keep an infection from forming.

Your pup’s saliva has some antibacterial properties that can promote healing. For example, it can help to protect against both E.coli and strep. Your dog is licking your wounds to help you heal!


Now that you know some interesting reasons why your dog may be licking you, it may be easier to understand your fur baby. While you may not always want to be slobbered on, there is no harm in getting a nice wet dog kiss from your favorite canine companion.

Do you have more questions about your pup’s licking habits? Reach out to Lake City Animal Hospital in Lake City, FL at (386) 755-0236 or make an appointment online!

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