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Why do dogs lick us?

A sloppy lick from your dog may be the ultimate sign of affection – but have you ever wondered why dogs love to lick us humans?

There are a few potential reasons why dogs lick their owners, ranging from the obvious to the more complicated.

They like the taste of your skin

Our skin has a salty taste, added to by our sweat. It could be that dogs love the taste so much they can’t resist a lick… let’s hope they don’t decide to start nibbling us anytime soon!

They are hungry

This one goes back to wolf pack behaviour. Puppies in a wolf pack will lick their mothers when they want feeding and lower ranking dogs will lick alphas in the hope of an invitation to feed off prey that the pack has caught. It could be that this behaviour is manifesting itself in your dog – time for dinner perhaps?

They are looking for attention

Licking can be a gentle way of getting your attention. There’s a good chance that if your dog licks you it is because they have learnt it gets them attention, treats or more playtime, so they repeat this behaviour. If you’re not keen on sloppy kisses, you’re going to have to break these habits!

It helps them learn about you

Your dog’s sense of smell and taste is incredibly strong, and the understand much of their world through these senses. Licking you is another way for them to understand the world around them, including you! Puppies love to lick people for exactly this reason, and most grow out of it eventually.

They are being submissive

In a wolf pack, lower ranking members of the pack will lick their superiors as a sign of submission and respect. This behaviour could be manifesting itself in your dog when they lick your face, showing they consider you to be the leader of the pack. 

Is it safe for your dog to lick you?

Usually, yes. A dog licking you is relatively harmless, although you shouldn’t let them lick your open wounds because of the risk of infection. Also – think where their tongue has been and whether you really want that transferred to your face and body!

Show your dog some love in return by making sure they get the exercise they need with a PitPat Dog GPS Tracker or PitPat Dog Activity Monitor. Download the app to get your dog’s tailored exercise goal for FREE!