8 surprising reasons why your dog licks you so much and when to be concerned

Ever wondered why your furry friend licks you so much?

It’s not just because they think you’re a giant, tasty snack.

There’s a lot more to a dog’s lick than meets the eye.

It can be their version of a hug, a sign of affection, or even their way of communicating with you.

But sometimes, excessive licking can be a cause for concern.

That’s why it’s important to understand the reasons behind your dog’s slobbery kisses.

Here are eight surprising reasons why your dog licks you so much, and when it might be time to worry.

1. Affection and bonding

Ever noticed how your dog starts licking you the moment you return home?

Well, in most cases, this is a sure sign of affection.

Dogs are pack animals, and licking is a natural behavior that reinforces social structures within the pack.

It’s your dog’s way of expressing their love and loyalty to you.

They’re essentially saying, “You’re my human, and I love you.”

But there’s another layer to this behavior.

Licking also releases endorphins in dogs, just like it does in humans.

This means that your dog feels happy and relaxed when they lick you.

2. They like the taste

You might not think it, but to your dog, you’re a walking, talking, treat.

Let me explain.

Remember that summer day when I had just returned from a long, sweaty run?

As soon as I sat down to catch my breath, my Golden Retriever, Max, was all over me.

At first, I thought he was just excited to see me.

But then I realized he was licking my skin more than usual.

That’s when it hit me – I was salty from sweat!

Sweat can be a delicious treat for dogs.

It’s salty and it’s on your skin, which they already love to lick.

This could be why Max was licking me so much that day.

So if you find your dog licking you excessively after a workout or on a hot day, it could simply be because they enjoy the taste of your salty skin.

3. Sensory exploration

Dogs are incredibly curious creatures, and their primary way of exploring the world is through their sense of taste and smell.

When they lick you, they are essentially “tasting” your scent.

This not only helps them understand you better but also creates a sensory map of their environment.

In fact, a dog’s sense of taste is closely linked to its sense of smell.

They have fewer taste buds than humans (about 1,700 compared to our 9,000), but their powerful noses more than make up for it.

So, when your dog licks you, they’re not just showing affection or seeking a salty treat; they’re also gathering information about you and the world around them.

4. Seeking attention

Sometimes, your pup just wants your attention, and they’ve learned that licking is a surefire way to get it.

Think about it.

When they start licking, you probably respond in some way – whether by petting them, speaking to them, or pushing them away.

All these reactions, positive or negative, mean attention for your dog.

And for them, any attention is better than no attention.

So if you find your dog licking you when you’re busy or otherwise occupied, they might just be saying, “Hey, look at me! Play with me!”

However, if this behavior becomes excessive or disruptive, it might be a sign that your dog needs more mental or physical stimulation.

Try incorporating more exercise or playtime into their daily routine.

5. Comforting themselves

Just like humans, dogs have their own ways of dealing with stress and anxiety.

And one of those ways is licking.

Licking can be a soothing activity for dogs.

It helps them feel calmer and more secure in their environment.

So when your dog is feeling anxious or stressed, they might turn to you and start licking.

It’s their way of saying, “I’m not feeling great, but being with you makes it better.”

It’s essential to be patient and understanding during these moments.

You’re their source of comfort, their safe haven.

But if the anxiety-induced licking becomes too frequent or intense, it might be time to seek professional help from a vet or a behaviorist.

6. Health issues

Remember that time when my dog, Max, wouldn’t stop licking his paws?

No amount of distraction seemed to work.

He just kept going back to it.

At first, I thought it was a new habit.

But then I noticed redness and irritation on his paws.

That’s when I realized something wasn’t right.

Excessive licking can sometimes indicate a health issue.

In Max’s case, it turned out to be a skin infection that was causing him discomfort.

So if you notice your dog licking a particular spot on their body excessively, it’s worth getting it checked out.

It could be a sign of an infection, an allergy or even a more serious issue like cancer.

Don’t panic, but do take it seriously.

7. Submission

In the wild, wolves lick the mouths of more dominant members of the pack as a sign of submission.

This behavior has been carried over to domestic dogs.

Your dog may lick you to show that they recognize you as the leader, the alpha.

It’s their way of saying, “I respect you and acknowledge your authority.”

While this behavior is generally harmless, it’s important to ensure that your dog doesn’t feel overly submissive or anxious around you.

A healthy relationship with your pet is based on mutual respect and trust, not fear or intimidation.

8. Compulsive behavior

Sometimes, excessive licking can be a sign of compulsive behavior in dogs.

Just like humans, dogs can develop compulsive disorders that lead them to repeat certain behaviors over and over again.

And licking can be one of these behaviors.

If your dog licks you or themselves excessively, to the point where it’s causing skin damage or interfering with their daily activities, it’s time to be concerned.

Compulsive behavior in dogs is often a sign of underlying issues like anxiety or stress.

It’s crucial to seek professional help if you suspect your dog might be dealing with this.

A vet or a behaviorist can help identify the root cause and provide appropriate treatment.

Understanding is key

The fascinating world of dog behavior is often a reflection of their deep connection with us, their human companions.

The act of licking, simple as it may seem, can hold a myriad of meanings – from expressions of love to indicators of stress or health issues.

Understanding these meanings not only enhances our bond with our furry friends but also gives us the ability to provide them with the care they need.

In the end, it’s about empathy and understanding.

It’s about recognizing that every lick, every wag of the tail, is a part of their way of communicating with us.

Tiffany Mcgee

Tiffany Mcgee

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

The latest articles and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.

Scroll to Top