Why Do Dogs Lick?

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: September 26, 2016
Why Do Dogs Lick?

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If you've got a dog or have ever interacted with one, you'll know that they have a tendency to lick. But what does it mean? Dogs have a limited communication system, which is why they rely so heavily on body language to show us their emotions and feelings.

In this AnimalWised article you'll find out that dogs lick for many different reasons beyond showing their love or affection - which we love, of course!

You may also be interested in: Why Do Cats Lick Each Other?

What does it mean when your dog licks?

Your dog might feel the need to lick you for a number of reasons; all of which are a sign of the love and affection that it holds for you. These reasons include:

  • It loves you: Like humans, dogs show affection and tenderness by kissing those who they love most. Kiss them back!
  • Fear: A careful and delicate lick can suggest fear, concern or submission if its also accompanied with lowered ears or if it has its tail between its legs. It shows its loyalty to you so that you don't scold it.
  • Hunger: If you notice that it excessively licks its nose when it opens his mouth, the meaning is clear - your dog is hungry. This behavior is traced back to when they were puppies, when they would lick their mother's mouth to tell her to regurgitate food for them.
  • To clean you: In general, dogs are very clean animals The mother cleans her cubs at birth by licking them and continues to do so until they reach adulthood. Even when grown up, dogs clean each other as a demonstration of affection.
  • They're looking for contact: If you give your dog a stroke it after it licks you, it will interpret it as a bargaining tool for future stroking.
  • Exploration: Dogs often lick unknown things as a form of investigation. Remember that a dog's senses, especially their sense of smell, are much more developed than human senses. It's been known for some dogs to lick their owners to tell them that they are carrying a disease.
  • To wake you up: If you're ill, or if your dog simply wants to go for a walk, it is very likely that it will wake you up by mischievously licking you across your whole face.
  • Licking the air: In this case, your dog is trying to make you trust it, and is trying to calm you down.
  • Excessive licking: Your dog is restless, nervous, and might even want to vomit.

Remember that a dog's body language is very extensive - we assure you that if you try to fully understand it, you will be very surprised. Keep browsing AnimalWised to find out all about your pets and forge a special relationship founded on mutual understanding.

Why Do Dogs Lick? - What does it mean when your dog licks?

Why does my dog...?

If you're a first time dog owner and you're slightly confused, don't worry! AnimalWised will help you out with our articles on dog behavior. Remember to check out:

  • Why do dogs tremble? Some dogs, especially smaller breeds, have a tendency to tremble. Find out why they do it and how you can help put them at ease so that they stop doing it.
Why Do Dogs Lick? - Why does my dog...?

What about cats? Why do cats lick?

If you've enjoyed finding out why dogs lick, you might be wondering about cats. The thing is that cats, despite being more independent, also want to show their love and express their emotions to those who look after and protect them.

Why Do Dogs Lick? - What about cats? Why do cats lick?

If you want to read similar articles to Why Do Dogs Lick?, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

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