|Why do dogs lick you? Anyone who’s met a dog is familiar with their wet greetings. It’s not like you rubbed bacon on your hands before walking in the door, so why do they do it?For the most part, it’s a sign of affection. From the day they were born, their mother licked them to clean them and stimulate them. Because of that, licking is connected to their very earliest social bonds, so it’s a significant part of their social signals. People aren’t exaggerating when they call it puppy kisses – a dog who licks you is showing you love. It’s why your dog licks your hand happily when you walk in the door, and why many dogs will lick you after you’ve been petting them. They’re returning the friendly gesture.Another reason why dogs lick you is to learn about you. Smell may be their strongest sense, but they learn a lot from what they taste as well. That’s why they lick other dogs in greeting, and why they lick people. In the wild, wolves lick other wolves’ mouths to determine if they’ve eaten and if a food source is nearby. Taste tells them a lot more than just how to fill their belly, however, especially in domesticated dogs. What they taste when they lick you tells them about your chemical composition, which can clue them in to other things about you. Human hormones and chemicals vary based on everything from our health to our mood, so they may be able to tell a lot about our state of being by licking us.
Dogs may lick people because they like the taste. My family has a dog who loves the taste of lotion – she would eat it from a bowl if she could – so she’ll lick lotion off people’s hands and feet as long as they let her. Dogs also tend to like salty, savory flavors. Human sweat is loaded with sodium, so if you’ve ever noticed your dog licking your feet after a workout, it’s because of the flavor.
Licking is also a sign of respect and submission for dogs. They’ll lick higher-up pack members to show acceptance of that member’s higher rank. If your dog lays down and licks your feet, that’s likely their way of showing respect for your authority.
Occasionally, licking is a sign of anxiety. Dogs enjoy licking, so they will sometimes lick as a way of comforting themselves. It usually shows itself as licking themselves or licking objects, but they may lick you for relief as well. If you think your dog has anxiety, consult your vet for confirmation and how to handle it.
Why do dogs lick you? It’s usually a friendly sign. Occasionally, it may be the sign of a problem like anxiety, but it’s typically nothing to worry about. Enjoy the puppy kisses.