Isn’t it wonderful to come home and be on the receiving end of hugs and licks from your wonderful canine companion? In all probability, your dog will nullify all your frustrations and tiredness with his gestures of expressing his love for you and make you feel alive.

Licking is one of the prime ways by which your pet shows his affection for something or someone. However, the jury is still out on what licking actually means as different scenarios require different interpretations.

Why do dogs lick?

Puppies of wild animals such as foxes, coyotes and other wild dogs have the habit of licking the face of their mother once she returns from her hunting episodes. The case with the dogs isn’t antonymous, for it plays a pivotal role in their lives. Right after the birth of a puppy, the mother dog invigorates their breathing process, cleans them and communicates her care for them by licking them. It is believed that puppies lick their mother when they are hungry.

This behaviour remains intact even when they grow up and become adults. Licking releases soothing endorphins which not only makes them feel comfortable and content but also acts as a therapy to remove stress. Wild dogs generally move around in the pack and the group members lick their leader as a gesture of submission, which aids in maintaining a feeling of togetherness in the group. Therefore, it may be argued that this act has taken the form of a greeting in many dogs.

Further, dogs also have a reputation of licking themselves as well and in common parlance, it is believed that they do this to kill their boredom or anxiousness. However, there might be a latent illness or allergy which a dog is suffering from if he is licking himself excessively. Environmental allergies, nausea, gastrointestinal disorders and flea bites are some of the primary reasons. To reduce pain or irritation, a dog gets the urge to lick a certain portion of his body too much and it is advisable for you to consult a veterinarian if the problem persists for a considerable period of time.

What does it mean when your dog licks you?

Dogs lick humans, mostly their face, because we have a slightly salty skin and its taste is something which dogs are fond of. Lickings are also widely recognized as an act which dogs do to pamper or please humans out of their affection or admiration towards them. They might even do that to get your attention or are in the mood of being pampered by us. Further, if your dog does it, it could also possibly mean that it is asking you to get moving and serve him his meal.

When you meet your dog after having finished your meal, a lot of licking could be confined to your face. It is believed that he probably tastes the leftover scent or flavours from what you ate. Even if you spilled something while drinking, your household buddy is going to take the matter in their own hands and lick them incessantly. Before your dog starts licking you, make sure that there are no chemicals or anything toxic on your body or clothes.

Is it harmful to humans to be licked by dogs?

Normally, lickings are completely harmless and should not be considered as worthy of causing troubles to human beings. However, they might turn out to be a danger if a person has open wounds or has a weak immune system. Dog’s saliva contains bacteria called Capnocytophaga which is a genus of Gram-negative bacteria. This bacterium is potent enough to cause infections in open wounds, although it is a very rare sight.

How to stop excessive licking by dogs?

You or your friends who visit your place might not be a big fan of getting licked repeatedly. In such scenarios, it will be important to teach him to refrain from doing it. Handing an adequate amount of tasks to keep him busy is the first and foremost technique of keeping your loyal companion away from licking you. You ought to make him stand up and sit down, do military crawls, run from one point to another or perform other physical activities and it goes without saying that this will require a lot of dedication and consistency from you.

Trick training is also an excellent method to do the needful and could help in solving the problem. If your dog licks you, get away from him or scold him to make him feel that you aren’t fond of it. In other instances, keep patting him when he is not licking you and as soon as he starts the unwanted process again, stop patting him. Also, give him suitable rewards once he starts adhering to your commands, such as cuddling him or giving him his favourite food.

Dogs are intelligent mammals who can decipher a substantial amount of ideas from a human’s gestures. Slowly but surely, he will realise what you actually want him to refrain from doing. Over the course of time, the licking will fade away and your pet dog will transform into a well-mannered friend. Just in case it persists or you that you believe that it could be a behavioural disorder, contact a veterinarian to get the right advice.

As far as licking himself is concerned, similar tricks as above should suffice. However, it is necessary to intervene if your dog licks off his fur of a particular area of his body completely as it could be a sign of skin infections. Licking the area which already has an infection will only aggravate your dog’s pain. A veterinarian will treat the infection and assess if there is a behavioural or medical disorder which is urging him to lick himself.


As an owner, you must not only groom him regularly but should also check as to whether there are wounds, pimples or cuts under his coat. If you find anything as such or remotely associated with these, then take the needful steps to address them. While bathing him, use only those shampoos which are recommended by veterinarians. Anxiety, loud noises or dust in the environment also make dogs lick their body parts excessively, which is why a good aura around him holds paramount importance.

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