Why Do Dog Licks? – An Impulsive Behavior Explained

dog lick people

If we make a quick look, when a dog licks its owner may seem to be showing familiarity as well as affection. On the other hand, the answer to why do dog licks is not simply about that reason.  There are a lot of implications that can be recognized as one of the most natural behaviors of a dog. This article will explain the intention and messages behind a dog’s licks.

Instinctive Act of Why Do Dog Licks


Affectionate licks often describe the special bond between a mother dog and her puppies. They mean caress and a cleaning all at once. Indicating an instinctive, primeval, motherly nature, they lick to encourage defecation and urination of their puppies. And subsequently clean them to get rid of odors that could draw unwanted predators. Puppies also respond the act when they need food or care from their mother.

From the instant they are born, licking is an instinctive part of being a dog. Their mothers will lick them right away to encourage their inhalation, and then afterward to clean them up. This initial condition to licking signifies that they would carry on this gesture even when they live with humans. So, you know that if they lick you, they consider you as part of their family and vice versa.

Submissive Gestures

The act of why do dog licks is not just about the bond between a dog and her puppies. Like in a wolf pack, licking another adult dog means communicating respect to a dog that is considered more dominant. Submissive acts like licking the superior dog’s lips or nose can get a dog out of danger in tense circumstances.

In the nature, dogs that are submissive would lick their pack leader to appeal in joining the eating feast. So maybe your dog just asks you to share some of your food. Licking is also a way to explore and practice their sensory and let them to know how your taste and learn more about you.

Dogs Lick Their Owner

A lot of people know what happens once they come back home after going out a few hours. Most of the times, the dogs will enthusiastically lick the owners. Certainly, the dog could be overjoyed to see them and basically welcoming back home. Nevertheless they could also be requesting the owner to look after them live feed them for instance.

In addition, the meaning to why do dog licks people could be a bit different on occasions when they like to lick our feet or hands. In this occasion, they are perhaps trying to understand the people’s moods through pheromones from the sweat. These chemicals are not being captured by the dog’s tongue, but it signals their nasal organ to decode.

If you wonder why do dog licks. It’s possible that they’re just trying to extend their affection to you and show that they care. They are likely to give you some grooming. Otherwise perhaps they just want to treat in the bonding practice like what they did with their mothers before. In the same way, the act of licking shows their admiration and respect for you as their leader.

Why Do Dogs Lick People?


This may seem to be familiar to you. After walking for a long time along with your dog and you take a seat to rest, the dog starts to lick you. It may starts from your hand then goes to all over your feet and face. It happens whenever you give affection by petting them. These are the reasons of why do dog licks. and in case you need to restrain the behavior, it can help you to realize the meaning behind the licks.

Good Taste

Dogs often lick their food bowl, the floor after you spilled some foods or the kitchen counter after you cooked a meal. It is easy to conclude that why do dog licks because they merely just enjoy the taste.

Do you realize that similar thing can also be true when dogs are licking you? Every now and then we bring a bit of small food particles that dogs are able to taste. And even more, they like the salt that is your skin especially when you sweat.

Clean Up

You may never imagine that your dog is particularly concerned about their cleanliness. Just like what cats do, your dog frequently licks themselves to clean up their body.


Some bacteria can be killed by enzymes produced by the dog’s saliva. The related reason of why do dog licks would be to help then eliminating dead tissues as well as cleaning the wounds from dirt. On the other hand, most of them couldn’t stop themselves from licking the wounds. This could lead to reopen the injured part and even create new wounds from licking too much.

You should also read my other article about how long does parvo live if you are concerned about your dog health.


When it comes to excessive licking, be aware if your dog is repeatedly licking the same thing or spot. Or if they look as doing so every time they feel frightened or anxious, it may be the moment to look for medical assistance. Even though licking maybe a healthy way to relieve their stress, compulsive licking could emphasize nervousness and even make it worse.


The communication on why do dog licks is to tell all kind of messages. It could be to tell that they are hungry or just simply telling you to be friends. Not only that it is the way they communicate with other dogs, they do it with people too. But we’re naturally not really good at understanding their messages. Be aware when your dog is intensely licking you.

See if there is something wrong. It could just be an empty water bowl or your dog might need to get something. This might only be a problem that you can solve instantly. They’re probably just asking for food, water or other help. It’s probably simple things that cause them to run to you and start licking you nonstop.


Showing affection is commonly becoming the reason of why do dog licks. Licking intended for getting affection makes the dog to release endorphins that could soothe and keep them calm. But for some people sometimes the licking could be too much. And some dog owners would want their dogs to control this behavior.

Many owners take pleasure in the licking and they find no problem with that. So it’s purely an individual preference above everything. Certainly, it must be stopped if it leads to compulsive behavior or a warning sign of nervousness or anxiety. If you ignore those symptoms, it might cause more problems.

To train them in controlling this licking behavior, just try to pay no attention to that and go into another room when it happens. In the end they will be trained that licking makes you to go away, which is never what they wish for.

If you do not like your dog’s tendency of licking, early prevention of the behavior is the ideal way to restrain it. As a result, try and begin to work this up as early as you it can be. It is recommended that you stop providing attention to your dog and if they keep on doing it. Following the occasional recurrence of training your dog’s behavior, they will know how to cooperate. Bear in mind to keep the consistency of the training to guarantee long-term consequences.

Why Do Dogs Lick Feet?

The reasons behind their licking can be loads of things like the above explanations. A dog’s tongue may have journeyed to various nasty places right through the whole day, but it definitely won’t stop them from kissing their owners. Why do dog licks feet can even lead to an obsessive behavior, no matter where your feet have been.

But why do dog licks face? Well, the dogs are maybe starving if they begin licking around their owner’s mouth. After they were born puppies were already taught to lick the mouth of their mother to say that they are hungry. Therefore, if your dog is offering you the same gesture you know what to do.

Licking their owner’s hands is more of a gesture of cleaning-up or exploration. Your hands may perhaps have residues of food that your dog would be keen on licking them up. Seeing that we mostly use our hands to caress and pat our dogs, their licking of your hands is to show you appreciation and love.

What does it mean when a dog licks your feet? Does your dog want communicate with you? Does he need something? What causes the licking behavior can be tricky to identify, particularly when it’s feet that they lick. But why do they choose feet? Well, each dog almost certainly has their own motive.

Social Grooming

Behaviorally, there are many motives that might set off a dog to lick people’s feet. The act could be triggered by the attention they get when licking the feet of their owner’s. Or it could be their way to connect in social grooming.

Seeking Attention

Why do dog licks to receive attention? If that is what the dogs do, they have possibly considered their licking gestures as a positive behavior. It is common when dogs lick their owner’s feet and then receive some kind of positive reaction from the owners. Consequently, they will feel confident to keep on doing this gesture the next time they want that same positive responds.

Social Affection

Why do dog licks your feet may suggest an activity of shared maintenance for them. It’s like when you and your friends are pampering each other. The dogs are presenting their affection by licking your hair and skin. But in other cases, licking the owner’s foot might show a certain behavior that doing so could calm them when they feel upset or anxious. Although it could be not only for feet but they could also lick the other things in the house.

Missing Mineral Nutrient

At other times, not only that dogs like the taste of your feet but it could also be for other reason. Some medical perspective would say that why do dog licks because they may possibly try to substitute a lost mineral nutrient.

Because water, salt and other chemical secretions are released from our sweat glands, the taste of our skin would be salty to dogs. In a lot of cases why do dog licks your naked feet because they’re a bit unclean or bringing some unfamiliar tastes and smells. Therefore they need to check that out. There are so many sweat glands in our body. The feet are also one of those areas where there are even more sweat glands. Hence the salty sweat on your feet will be much more to be licked by your dog.

You possibly will be aware when your dog is specifically paying attention by licking you after applying a sunscreen or moisturizer onto your skin. Make an effort and put them off from licking you in this instance as they will lick harmful substances. Of course you don’t want to give toxic to your dog. So make sure to keep away substances that are considered dangerous to them. Learn what type of substances are those.

Some would encourage dog owners to avoid doing any kind of punishment to prevent their licking behavior. Licking can help create strong bond between owners and their dog. Moreover, they must understand if your dog is trying to reduce their anxiety or simply get your attention by licking. This is something that you should be aware of. Getting to know why do dog licks with its intention can suggest that you will not fail to provide the important things that your dog requires.

Gladly, excessive feet licking are typically not something to be anxious. Going to a dog specialist or vet can help identify any causal medical problems that might be triggering the impulsive behavior. Understanding why do dog licks with the message behind it can help owners to communicate well with their dog.

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