Why do dogs lick you when you pet them? (10 Reasons)
Sometimes, they lick us when we pet our dogs instead of the other way around. This can be confusing to first-time dog owners because why do dogs lick you when you pet them? Why would your dog want to lick you and not the other way around? As it turns out, there are many reasons why dogs lick their humans and other canines, which I’ll share in this blog article!
1) The dog licks because he loves it.
When you pet your dog, he may lick your hand or arm. This is called submissive-affection licking. It’s him saying, I love you, too! Some people believe that dogs do it because they want food, but most experts agree that there are deeper reasons for a dog lapping at human skin. He could be happy to see his owner, and showing it with a bit of wet affection on some exposed skin could be one way of showing it.
2) The dog licks as a sign of respect.
It’s a sign of respect, so if your dog licks his lips at other dogs or people, it means he’s not challenging them and shows he has no desire to fight. This is most common in puppies, still learning proper canine communication skills. As a side note: If your dog does have access to other pets outside of your home, be sure to pay attention to how he behaves with each of them. It could be that one specific animal triggers aggressive behavior from him – either as an instigator or a response.
3) The dog is trying to communicate with you.
A dog licking your hand could mean that he wants to be groomed, or it could indicate a much more specific desire. Some people will interpret a dog’s licking as too aggressive for a simple greeting. In general, however, if your dog licks his lips in front of you and then presses his mouth on yours (without biting), he may be trying to let you know that he just ate something and needs some water. When we eat something spicy or salty, our lips will tingle and get dry. Dogs have those same sensations, but their sense of taste is much keener than ours; in fact, many dogs are used by researchers for their ability to detect even minute amounts of dangerous substances like arsenic and mercury!
4) He thinks your hands are food!
Some people swear their dog licks them as a way of begging for food. This could certainly be true, but it’s more likely your puppy is just smelling your hands. After all, there are tons of things that can leave smells on our skin—and if your dog wants to know what you’ve been up to today, there’s no better way than by putting his nose right in it! Just be sure that whatever you had for lunch isn’t poison to pets (hint: they love bacon).
5) He wants to clean you with his tongue.
Dogs, especially puppies, often use their tongues to clean themselves and others. If a dog licks your face, it’s a sign that he sees you as part of his pack (literally!) He wants to play: If your dog licks your hands or feet, it can mean that he’s trying to get you moving. Maybe he wants to chase a ball or go for a walk? Social lubricant: Dogs are social animals, and sometimes licking is used to initiate playtime or calm anxious behavior. Your vet says hello: Some dogs develop habits of licking those around them, including owners and vets. It could be that there’s something about human skin that they like, or it may be an adaptation from living with humans over many generations.
6) He is overly excited.
One reason a dog might start licking is that he’s so excited to see you. While it may be cute, don’t think he’s just saying hello with his tongue: It could be an indication of hyperactive behavior or over-excitement in general. If your dog shows these behaviors, make sure to set some boundaries for him and get enough exercise and mental stimulation throughout each day. Because if your dog doesn’t get his excitement out in other ways, he’ll likely find a way (and maybe your face is the way).
7) He smells something familiar on your hands.
Dogs have full noses that are often more sensitive than human noses. When they smell a familiar person or thing on your hands, they may lean in to give you a quick slobbery greeting because they feel comfortable and safe around you. These smells can tell them whether something is safe to eat, if another dog wants to play or if someone is trustworthy (or not). Licking may also be just how your pup shows he likes you – it’s a form of communication for dogs (as well as for other animals). He’s excited: Licking may be part of a dog’s body language and response to specific emotions. A happy, excited dog might lick because he loves interacting with people so much!
8) He wants your scent all over him.
Dogs have a keen sense of smell, and they’re constantly learning about their environment through scent, and petting your dog releases oxytocin-the love hormone that makes them feel good. As a result, he may start licking his lips because there is something in his mouth. It could be from your hands (like food or hand sanitizer) or your skin (sweat). Either way, he wants to get it off and may use his tongue as a natural cleanser. His behavior can seem pretty gross, but it’s normal!
9) He thinks you are playing fetch!
A dog’s mouth has scent glands, so he leaves his scent behind while licking. He thinks you’re playing a game of fetch: Some experts believe that your dog may think that while he’s licking you, he’s bringing something back to show off. She wants to bath your face: While some dogs are more likely to initiate tongue action than others, many want nothing more than a nice, wet tongue bath. She’s showing affection: There is no one specific reason for your dog licking you; there are numerous things that could be causing it! It could be as simple as her just wanting to get closer to her favorite human being.
10) Hormones are involved
When your dog licks you, it can feel strange, but it’s no cause for alarm. As with humans, licking expresses positive emotions—particularly happiness. This is especially true when puppies and young dogs learn about their world. Licking calms: To a pup or a very young dog, your face may seem big and scary—that is until he starts nuzzling at your cheeks and ears. To calm his nerves and yours (you may feel invaded by all that wetness), licking becomes more common.
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