Dogs tend to lick everything and everyone, especially when they get excited. You’ve probably wondered what the answer is when you ask yourself why do dogs lick you? We don’t know the exact reason, but we have several very good ideas. Sometimes it’s pretty easy to figure out why your dog is licking you, but other times it just seems baffling
They Love You
Dogs love you just as much as you love them. Naturally, they need to express their love for you somehow, and that comes out through slobbery licking. This is a learned behavior from mother to puppy that they retain when they grow up. Their mother licks them when they’re a puppy, and licking and being licked, can serve as a comfort for them and a way to express their affection.
They Want Your Attention
Sometimes your dog might lick you just because they want your attention. And let’s face it, it’s pretty hard to ignore them when you suddenly get licked by a dog out of nowhere. Your dog has definitely noticed the reaction they get from licking you, one you can’t ignore, and use it to their advantage when they want your attention. They may want you to feed them or get something they can’t reach, or they might just want you to interact with them and pet them.
You Taste Good
A dog might lick you because you taste good to them, and not in an “Oooh food!” way where they want to eat you. Although sometimes they might lick you because you do indeed have food on you. Other times, certain lotions or body washes seem to be very appealing to dogs. Dogs particularly like the salty taste of sweaty skin, so your dog might lick you after your workout.
They’re Grooming You
Licking is how a dog grooms themselves and stays clean. This is shared by the fact that dogs are taught by their mother to groom each other, and so dogs tend to groom those they love. This includes you. Your dog might be licking you because they think you need a bath, even if you just showered, or as a bonding activity.
They’re Submitting to You
Dogs have a hierarchy system they exist in, and when they submit to another dog higher up in that hierarchy, they will often lick them as an act of submission and respect. If your dog is licking you, they could be recognizing you as the alpha in their chain of command and submitting to you while showing you a sign of respect.
For a dog, they explore the world very differently than we do. Dogs explore the world around them with their nose, and when they want a better look at something, the next step is to lick it or to put it in their mouths, since they don’t have hands to pick it up and feel it. When it comes to licking you, they may be exploring you as well.
Evolution may be playing a surprising role in why your dog is licking you. We’ve observed certain behavior in wolves and other wild canine species, and even in our dogs before we domesticated them when it comes to licking each other. When dogs are still puppies, they start licking their mother’s mouths when they’re transitioning from milk to solid food. With our puppies, we take care of the wet food and solid food so the mother doesn’t have to do anything once the puppies are weaned, but that wasn’t always the case. Canines, dogs included, are scavengers, and this means that when the puppies would be transitioning to solid food, the mother will go hunting for food and come back to the puppies, where they would lick her neck and mouth to signal to her they were hungry and she would regurgitate some partially solid food for them to eat. Your dog licking your neck and face may be them trying to tell you they think you didn’t feed them enough or that they’re ready for seconds.
Why do dogs lick you is a question so many people ask, usually when they’re being licked by a dog and we’ve been able to puzzle out several reasons for their slobbery kisses, and none of them are anything to worry about.