Dog Tips

Why Does My Dog Lick Me?

Looks like you’ve become a personal lollipop to your dog. Well, that’s a sign that you’ve established a good bond with your pup. Congratulations! But don’t get too happy right away. It can mean other things as well and some of them may be a cause for concern. Here’s a complete guide for you.

Dogs and humans have shared a symbiotic relationship: we provided food and shelter, and they offered protection and, apparently, impromptu tongue baths. A caveman coming back from a successful hunt and getting greeted by a canine lick is like the earliest form of ‘good job’ known to man. Looks like not much has changed. The only difference now is that we’ve got soap and a better understanding of why dogs lick us. 

Spoiler alert – It’s not to taste your latest hand lotion. 

Should You Let Your Dog Lick You?

Licking in dogs is not considered a serious behavioral problem by experts. It is however important for you to know the possible reasons behind it – (1)

  • Affection 

Dogs learn licking from their mothers. As puppies, they felt love from their mother in the form of licks on their faces. Even your dog would lick your face if it’s possible. Otherwise, they will settle for whichever part is accessible to them. While some dogs may lick less than others, it doesn’t mean less affection. They must have learned things differently as a pup or have other means of showing affection. 

  • Attention

Licking or howling, your dog could resort to either for seeking your attention. This usually happens when they are feeling bored or ignored. Your reaction to it, irrespective of positive or negative, will encourage the behavior more. 

  • Instinct 

When dogs in the wild come back after a meal, the pups lick their lips. The dogs then regurgitate meat from the hunt for the pups. This behavior seems to have come from wolves. Some believe that it is the same instinct that even domesticated dogs have.

  • Taste 

Yes, you read it right. Dogs lick you also because they want to get taste of you. (don’t get naughty thoughts here. It’s an innocent behavior). It is a way for them to explore the world around them. They might also like your salty flavor. So basically, you are a potential lollipop to your dog. 

All these reasons suggest that there is no problem in letting your dog lick you. Just the one instance where they do it for seeking attention, it is advised to not encourage it. Do not respond to it even in the form of a punishment. It tells that that the licking is working and you’re responding to it. 

But apart from these harmless reasons, excessive licking could also indicate a problem. Although rare, licking can become an obsessive-compulsive behavior for some dogs triggered by prolonged stress or anxiety. You will see them licking surfaces and objects too frequently as well in such a case. This is a problem. We recommend you visit a vet if your dog is showing such behaviors. Your vet may prescribe medications for anxiety. There are behavioral specialists also available to cure the compulsion in your dog.  

Do Dog Licks Mean Kisses?

Yes, it does. Licking is a form of communication and expression for dogs. You will often see that when you kiss your dog’s face, they start licking you back. This is their way of kissing. Most dogs love kisses from their owners. They will express their enjoyment by wagging their tails, looking alert and happy and licking you – which in their language is ‘licking you back’. (2)

However, do not force your dog to give kisses. Do watch your children around the dog and it’s better to not let them close to the dog’s face if they are too young. 

What Does it Mean When a Dog Puts Their Paw on You? 

Just like licking is a way of communicating for dogs, so is putting their paws on you. And just like licking can mean many things, so can pawing. Here are the possible reasons for it – (3)

  • Signalling affection

  • Seeking attention

  • Asking for an outside pee session

  • To tell you ‘I’m hungry’

  • Seeking comfort during loud noises

Most of the time, however, it is because you responded to the pawing in the past. Dogs have a great memory for these things. They know what works and what doesn’t to get your attention and ask for things. If you do not want to encourage the behavior, stop responding to it every time. But we don’t see any problem in letting your dog paw you. It’s like a baby asking for comfort from the mother. It would be a little insensitive to take it away that right the baby. 

More About Spot Pet Insurance

While licking and pawing may not be a serious cause for concern, in rare cases it can be. There could be an underlying pain or discomfort caused by an underlying medical condition that your dog is trying to communicate with you. Your dog is prone to multiple illnesses during its lifetime. These include – (4)

  • Skin infections

  • Kennel cough

  • Urinary Tract infections

  • Parvovirus

  • Dental problems

  • Obesity, etc. 

During such times, your savings can take a serious hit if the illness turns out to be severe. With pet health insurance, you can save up to 90% of all the costs. 

Dog Insurance can help provide financial assistance for eligible veterinary care in case of unexpected accidents, illnesses, or injuries. Our plans can help pet parents manage the eligible costs of covered veterinary care and help ensure that their pets can receive the best treatment possible. Here are some ways that Spot pet insurance plans can help:

  • Covers Unexpected Veterinary Costs: Spot pet insurance plans cover the eligible costs of unexpected veterinary treatments, such as emergency surgeries, X-rays, and prescription medications for covered conditions.

  • Customizable Plans: Choose your annual limit, reimbursement rate, and deductible from a range of options, and create the plan that will fit the needs of your pet and your budget. 

  • Peace of Mind: With Spot pet insurance plans, pet parents can know that they can provide the best care for their pet with less worry about the cost.

To learn more about Spot Plans or to get a free quote, click here.

Sources

  1. Stregowski, J. (2023, July 13). Why do dogs lick you? 5 common reasons. The Spruce Pets. https://www.thesprucepets.com/why-do-dogs-lick-people-1118300

  2. Joyner, L. (2024, June 14). Why do dogs lick you? And are dog licks really kisses? Country Living. https://www.countryliving.com/uk/wildlife/pets/a36130023/why-do-dogs-lick-you/

  3. MacInnes, S. (2023, September 15). Why does my dog put his paw on me? Zigzag Puppy Training App. https://zigzag.dog/blog/puppy-behaviour/understanding-your-puppy/why-does-my-dog-put-his-paw-on-me/

  4. Stregowski, J. (2024, May 20). Common dog diseases and health issues. The Spruce Pets. https://www.thesprucepets.com/common-dog-health-problems-1117863

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