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Nothing is more quintessentially canine-owner than coming home to slobbery, lick-filled welcomes at the door. From a young age, we come to know that licking is how dogs “kiss” or show affection, but if you’ve ever asked a veterinarian or animal trainer “what does it mean when a dog licks you,” the answer is...complicated.
Similar to wagging tails, a dog’s licking is a sign of self-expression but isn’t a universal sign for anyone feeling in particular. That being said, it’s always good to know why a pup behaves the way it does. Here are a few things a dog may be trying to communicate with their licks.
Of course, the most common interpretation of dog licking is that it's a sign of affection, and there’s certainly some merit to that.
Almost immediately, puppies receive licks from their mothers. This behavior is naturally a form of affection, but it’s also crucial for grooming and cleaning wounds. When dogs grow up to have puppies of their own, they naturally continue this behavior with their offspring. It’s only natural they would exhibit this behavior with humans they care about, too. Consider this the next time they lick a scratch on your leg, or your face when you lay down next to them.
While licking is usually just a form of self-expression for pups, compulsively licking could indicate something is wrong. Over or obsessively licking a particular area is a sign the dog may be attempting to soothe themselves. Inspect the area for signs of any rash, allergic reaction, or trauma. If the dog is licking more than its normal behavior ask a veterinarian. In the Fuzzy app or website, 24/7 Live Vet Chat is available to answer any questions about canine behavior, allergies, anxiety, or injuries.
One of the main reasons dogs lick anything, you included, is that it tastes good or that they gain more information via their stronger-than-human sense of taste.
Humans are salty - literally. Our skin has tiny salt particles on the surface such as sweat, which taste favorably to dogs. It’s also common for tiny particles to linger on our skin after we eat, so if you’ve ever noticed your dog likes to lick your face or hands after dinner or a tasty snack, this is why!
When it comes to your dog’s licks, or your dog in general, there’s a lot to decode. At Fuzzy, our mission is to help dog owners be the best pet parents possible, and we’re here to help navigate every random question and situation you and your fur baby find yourselves in.