A guest post from David Huner.
Here is a guest post. It’s about the reasons that dogs lick us.
What Does It Mean When Dog Licks You?
Eight Possible Answers to This Question
By David Huner
You may think that when your dog is licking you, he’s basically giving you a kiss. But, not all zoologists would agree.
Sure, it’s proven that licking releases endorphins in dogs in basically the same manner kissing releases endorphins in humans. However, getting high on the happiness hormone is not the only reason why dogs do it. Sometimes, dog licks can have many other meanings.
Your dog can’t talk to you, but you can be sure that he’d like to. This is why he has to use other methods to communicate with you. And one of those methods is through licking. The big question is what kind of message he’s trying to send?
Well, there are many potential answers to this question, but whether they’re right depends on the circumstances. In order to be able to figure out what your dog is saying, you better take a look at 8 most common scenarios.
Here are 8 Potential Reasons Why Your Dog is Licking You
1. He’s Just Saying Hello
In most cases, dog licks mean nothing other than saying hello. As he can’t express himself with words, to say hello, he’s got two options before him. The first one is to bark, which can be loud and scary. The second is to give you a gentle lick on the hand.
2. He’s Saying He’s Hungry
Another very plausible scenario is that your dog is politely asking for more food. Actually, whenever you notice that he’s behaving strange, the chances are that his behavior has something to do with food.
After all, food is one of the most important things in the world of dogs.
3. You Taste Delicious
Humans have 6 million olfactory receptors in the nose, which are responsible for picking up smells. Dogs, on the other hand, have 300 million such receptors, which makes their sense of smell 50 times better.
So, even if you’ve washed your hands thoroughly after lunch, your dog is probably going to know what you had just by sniffing your fingers. And if you ate some really awesome food for lunch, he might decide to give it a taste by licking your hand. The one that was in touch with the food, glorious food.
But, even if you were nowhere near any food, it doesn’t mean that your hand doesn’t make him hungry.
No, he doesn’t want to eat your arm off, he wants to lick it as there might be some sweat on it. Sweat is salty, so licking your hand is like eating chips for him.
4. He’s Saying Everything’s Alright
It’s been more than 15,000 years since dogs were domesticated. And for most of that time, the role of the dogs in human society was to provide protection. Essentially, all dogs are guard dogs, even those tiny ones like Chihuahuas.
No matter the breed, you can be sure your dog would give his life to protect you. Hopefully, he won’t ever get in a need to prove his courage, but this doesn’t mean he can fight his nature. He’s always on a watch and in order to tell you he’s got everything under control, he will give you a lick.
5. He’s Saying Not Everything is Alright
Sometimes, the reason why dogs lick their owners is that they feel sad or hurt. In most cases, the reason is emotional – they might feel bored, alone, or miss hanging out with other dogs.
However, sometimes the reason is that they’re feeling physical pain. Because licking releases endorphins that make them feel euphoric, by doing it they can forget about the pain.
6. He’s Being Your Personal Physician
There are certain enzymes in dog saliva that kill off bacteria, while also promoting a faster wound healing. This is why you can often see dogs vigorously licking their wounds or hot spots they might have on their skin.
For the same reason, he might decide to give you a lick or two. Even if there are no visible blisters or wounds on your skin, your dog could still decide that it’s best that his favorite human remains germ-free.
7. He’s Grooming You
Sure, your dog doesn’t have OCD when it comes to cleanliness, but this doesn’t mean dogs are dirty. On the contrary, dogs take really good care of their hygiene. Licking their fur is one of the ways of ensuring it stays clean and beautiful.
Another reason why they lick their fur is that it makes them feel calm and happy. If your dog notices that you’re feeling distressed, he might decide to try to calm down your nerves by grooming you a bit. And he’s gonna do it by licking your hand.
8. He Just Has No Other Business
Sometimes dogs decide to start licking their owners because they got nothing else to do. If he’s feeling bored, he could try to engage you by giving your hand a lick. A single lick could prove to be the first step in an hours’ long play between him and you.
Is Licking Good For You?
It surely is good for your dog, but what about you? Is dog saliva healthy or dangerous for human health?
Well, the answer is a bit complicated. Although it’s true that dog saliva kills off some germs, it’s a fact that some germs live freely in that environment. And if they get into your body, they can cause all sorts of problems.
Playing it safe seems like the best advice you can get. Preventing dog saliva from getting into your mouth is crucial. Germs can’t get in your system through thick layers of skin, but they can get in your body through your mouth.
This is why you should never let the dog lick your face. You also need to wash your hands every time you finish playing with your dog, so that you wouldn’t get germs on your food. And you need to wash your hands thoroughly, by which we mean to rub them vigorously and use anti-bacterial soap.
David Huner is the founder of the pettrainingtip, where he and his team provides all necessary information related to pet care, supplies, health and even more. His team also always doing research on new pet related article topics to cover information from all bases including training tips.
Victoria Stillwell has a piece on dog-licking. It only adds to the article that David wrote by including the fact that a mother dog licks her newborn puppies.
Why is the dog licking? Right from birth that is how the mother communicates with her new puppies, how she stimulates them to start breathing and how she cleans them when they are born, so it’s very important to the survival of puppies. In the wild and in domestic dogs, you’ll find they will lick around the mother’s mouth as newborns and puppies still retain that instinct. It’s also sort of a submissive gesture — the more subordinate members of a pack will lick the more dominant members and that’s important in maintaining pack harmony.
Dogs also lick because they like the taste of an owner’s salty skin and out of habit. Mostly, with domestic dogs, it’s a sign of affection.
Licking releases pleasurable endorphins which gives dogs a feeling of comfort and pleasure — like the feeling people get when they are biting their nails — it relieves stress. If your dog’s licking is purely a sign of affection, one way to decrease this is to ignore the licking. Licking never gets attention. If your dog licks you, then you immediately stand up and walk into another room. You want to teach your dog that licking means the person will leave the room. When you pet your dog, if he starts to lick, the petting stops and you walk away. With repetition the licking will stop.
If a dog is chronically licking himself, it can be because he is bored, anxious, has skin problems such as allergies, or could be feeling pain either in their paws or elsewhere in their bodies. You should make sure your dog is getting enough stimulation and rule out any infections or allergies by visiting your vet.
Let me know if you found this guest article interesting.
13 thoughts on “A dog licking you?”
Great article, David. I wasn’t aware that dogs lick you if they sense you need emotional support. That is good to know
Glad you enjoyed the article, Susan. Would you like more of them?
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I know kisses when I see one – and get one – licks are kisses first and foremost!!!! (and yes, all that other stuff too……) 🙂
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Actually a stupid human pet trick conclusion:
“Play it safe. Wash your hands. germs. Never let them lick your face!”
Oh my god…..maybe he better not get a dog? And never get down and talk with your dog, hold him/her……they might actually think you care!
Some rational ones anyway
Well said, Greg. I had that same problem with the author albeit I saw no reason to say ‘No’ when he asked me to republish that article. Thanks!
What a fascinating article. Who knew?!
I take it you enjoyed the article!
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Absolutely, it was quite enlightening and informative.
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Dogs are so awesome! I had no idea there were so many reasons why your dog might lick you!
Very good article Paul. I shall be happy to get doggy licks any time. 🙂