Why Do Dogs Lick? Answers To Why They Lick People, Paws, Themselves, Wounds & More


Last Updated: May 24, 2023 | 4 min read | 1 Comment

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Dog licking its face (Caption: Why Do Dogs Lick?)

Is your dog constantly licking, and you have no idea why? Licking is a very natural way for dogs to communicate with one another. After a mother has her pups, she licks them to help them start breathing and clean them. This initial licking sticks with dogs throughout their lives, and they use it for many reasons. Licking for dogs is similar to humans biting their nails — both release pleasurable endorphins, which create comfort and relieve stress.

Why Do Dogs Lick People?

Dog licking woman's face

Lots of people wonder, why do dogs lick you? The most common reason is simple: they love you! When dogs lick, they release endorphins that make them feel calm and comfortable. It’s no wonder they want to feel that comfortable around the people they love.

There may be different places on your body that your dog licks more than others. Here’s some insight on that too:

Why Do Dogs Lick Your Face?

So, what does it mean when a dog licks your face? Aside from affection, your dog might lick your face because he likes the way it tastes. If you’re sweaty, your face can taste salty. Your pup might also like the taste of your lotion or soap.

Why Do Dogs Lick Feet?

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Dogs might lick your feet for a few reasons. Some dogs lick their owner’s feet to show submissiveness. They know they belong to you and want to make you happy. If that’s not it, it might be that your feet are gross. Dogs love rolling around in funky-smelling stuff; they even eat poop! So if you have dirty feet that you need to wash, they might love that.

Why Does My Dog Lick My Hands?

Have you ever wondered, why do dogs lick your hands? It’s probably one of the same reasons they lick faces, feet, or other parts of your body. They want to show you love or submission, or you taste good.

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws?

Dog licking paw

There are a couple of reasons dogs lick their feet. First, your pup could have a medical problem like a skin condition or even obsessive-compulsive disorder. If a paw is swelling or your dog is limping, he should be seen by a vet immediately. The other possibility is that he just does this out of habit, and has become part of his routine.

Dirty paws are also a tempting thing for dogs to lick. You can keep them clean by using paw cleaners when you come in from outside. Taking time to clean your dog’s paws will also give you a chance to check them out too.

Why Do Dogs Lick Themselves?

Most dogs lick their private areas in some capacity. This action could be due to boredom, anxiety (learn about Clomipramine to help with anxiety), a skin condition, or pain. If your dog licks his butt frequently, that could be an indication of allergy symptoms, or he may need his anal glands expressed.

Do Dogs Clean Themselves?

You may be wondering if dogs are like cats and clean themselves. Do dogs groom themselves? The answer is yes. Like lots of other animals, dogs lick themselves to clean their fur.

Why Do Dogs Lick Wounds?

Dog being licked on the ground (Caption: Why Do Dogs Lick Their Wounds?)

Wound licking is an instinct for dogs. Their saliva is slightly antibacterial and antimicrobial and has some minor healing properties. These properties may be why dogs lick their wounds and also lick human wounds. But letting them lick your wounds is not the best idea. It can interrupt the natural healing process and can increase your risk of infection.

Excessive Licking In Dogs

Dog behaviorist with dog on leash (Caption: Dog Behavioral Therapy)

If your dog is excessively licking, it may be due to a behavioral problem. If your dog is obsessively licking himself, you, or an object, you may want to speak with your vet about behavioral treatment to help your pup to stop this. If you notice your dog licking excessively suddenly, this could signify an illness or ailment, including skin allergies, dental disease, stomach issues, or other conditions.

If you want to know how to stop your dog from excessive licking, talk to your vet. They can help you figure out the root cause and how to treat it properly.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions our readers ask about dog licking.

Why Do Dogs Lick The Air?

Dogs lick the air for a few reasons. It could be that your pup is stressing out, that there is something stuck to the roof of his mouth, or even that he smells something strong.

Why Do Dogs Lick Each Other?

Dog mom cleaning puppy

Licking can be a form of submission. The more submissive dog in a pack will lick the dominant dogs as a sign of respect to maintain balance.

Why Do Dogs Lick Each Other’s Ears?

When dogs lick each other’s ears, it’s a natural way to greet one another. It’s also helpful since a dog can’t clean his own ears.

Why Do Dogs Lick Other Dogs’ Faces?

Face licking almost always is a sign of friendliness and that they mean no harm.

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Lips?

Dog licking air

While lip licking can be in anticipation of food, it can also be a sign of anxiety or worry.

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Bed?

Dogs may lick their beds to spread their scent and mark it as their own. It may also be a way to get comfortable and cozy while they settle down.

Why Do Dogs Lick Carpet?

Spills happen, and if your pup is licking the carpet, it may be that you spilled something yummy on it. They also may be anxious, nervous, or not feeling well.

Why Do Dogs Lick The Couch?

If there isn’t a tasty spill on the couch, a dog may be licking the couch out of boredom or as a way to self-soothe.

Why Do Dogs Lick The Floor?

Licking the floor is usually a sign of nausea or a stomach problem. It may also be a sign of nutrient deficiency or another medical condition.

Why Does My Dog Lick Everything?

Boredom or anxiousness is a common reason dogs lick everything in sight. This action can become a bad habit if you reward the behavior, even if you do it unknowingly. It could also be a sign of illness, so be aware and talk to your vet if it becomes excessive.

Licking As A Sign Of Affection

In this one-minute video from Good Morning America, Daisie the Sheepdog got caught showering the newest member of their family with kisses. As in this case, licking can be a sweet sign of affection.

Behavioral Therapy To Help With Licking

Dogs lick for a variety of reasons. It’s essential to work with your vet to determine why your pup is licking people, other dogs, or different things to ensure it’s safe and not a sign of something concerning.

If you’re interested in starting dog behavioral therapy, you could consider an online training course. Your pet insurance may also provide coverage for behavioral training, thus helping you cover the expenses. Take a look at our coverage comparison table to see which pet insurance companies cover behavioral therapies.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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