Why Does My Dog Lick Me So Much?

Behavior Recent September 23, 2023
Why Does My Dog Lick Me So Much?
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Why Does My Dog Lick Me So Much?

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When you walk through the door, are you greeted with sloppy licks all over your face? Of course, your dog is happy to see you and is excited, but there are other reasons your dog may act this way. 

For dogs, licking is an instinctive and natural behavior. It serves as a means for them to socialize, express themselves, and groom. As a result, your dog will use licking to communicate with you, just like with barking. Since they cannot speak our language, they communicate with us through their bodies.

There are many reasons your dog may be smothering you with wet kisses, and in this article, we discuss the most common. 

Reasons Your Dog Licks You So Much

Here are a few explanations for why your dog may enjoy licking you:

  • Instinct  – Being a dog inevitably involves licking. It assists with their grooming, expressions, and communication. Mommy dogs lick their puppies often to keep them clean, comfort them, and encourage them to use the bathroom. Puppies groom themselves and their littermates, which is a great way to keep things clean and an excellent way to show love and affection to one another.
  • Affection – Licking their owners is one of the most popular ways dogs express their love for their owners. Dogs feel relaxed and comforted when licking because it releases pleasurable endorphins into their blood. Additionally, puppies were licked by their mother, so it comes naturally for them to lick things as a sign of affection.
  • You Taste Good – If your dog does not always show you a lot of love and isn’t overly affectionate, it’s possible that they only lick you occasionally because you’re tasty. Similar to how your dog might lick treats, bowls, and other items that once held their favorite foods, some dogs enjoy the salty flavor of their owner’s skin.
  • Sensory tool – Some dogs lick objects to feel what they are because their paws can’t examine things as thoroughly as our hands can. Because dogs’ tongues contain millions of sensory cells, they may lick strangers to identify them since licking is like touching something.
  • Show Submission – In the wild, dogs would lick the pack leader, and when they returned home to reunite with the rest of their pack, this would indicate that they had missed them and were now their obedient companions. If you’ve been away, your dog will lick your hand as a sign of submission to you as the alpha dog in the pack. This may also help to reduce the stress of separation anxiety.
  • To Get Attention – Dogs are intelligent creatures, so they might merely try to catch your attention with their tongue. You may have unintentionally taught your pet to lick you to get your undivided attention if you notice that they turn to lick you when they’re hungry or want to play.

Medical Reasons Your Dog Licks You So Much

An underlying medical condition could also be indicated by excessive licking. The symptoms are often similar to those caused by behavioral licking, such as hair loss, skin redness, or irritation. To rule out these potential causes if your dog is licking excessively, it may be a good idea to take them to see your vet.

Skin Conditions

Some skin conditions are related to underlying illnesses that affect the entire body, immune response-related diseases, or other underlying illnesses. Itchy skin, a symptom of these conditions, may result in excessive licking or even hot spots. 

Hot spots are basically areas of skin infection or dermatitis that a dog won’t seem to leave alone. A thyroid that is not functioning properly can also cause patches of hair loss.


Allergies are annoying, difficult to treat, and frequently require ongoing care to stay at bay.  Potential medical causes for licking include allergies that cause the skin or paws to itch. Airborne allergens, such as pollen or mold, can cause allergies.

Food allergies can also be an underlying cause of itchy skin, which can lead to licking. Dogs may become allergic to fleas, as well as cats in the house.

Underlying Pain

Dogs may lick as humans do when they rub a sore muscle or joint due to underlying pain from an injury or arthritis. The licking releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers and will help soothe the pain.

Licking is often confined to the area above a joint. Painkillers or arthritis medications given by your veterinarian may help to better determine if underlying joint pain is a cause for licking.


Itching that results in excessive licking can also be brought on by infections from bacteria, fungi, or parasites. 

Even one flea bite can damage the skin, leaving your pet vulnerable to infections that can be extremely itchy. Ticks can cause a host of issues, like Lyme disease, that leave your pup uncomfortable and needing to lick. A trip to your veterinarian’s office may include taking skin scrapings and fluid samples of the skin to see if there is microscopic evidence of yeast or mites.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder in dogs can show up as excessive licking. These dogs seem driven to lick and find it difficult to stop. Compulsive lickers may spend hours licking themselves or objects, floors, or furniture.

These dogs frequently have underlying behavioral problems like anxiety or excessive sensitivity. Redirecting the behavior can help, but sometimes, you might need a pet expert’s advice or even medications to help manage obsessive tendencies.

GI or Stomach Issues

Gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea, reflux, or an upset stomach, are another reason for licking. This may actually be one of the most common causes after allergies and skin infections are ruled out. 

To relieve the GI pain, a dog might lick strange surfaces or swallow excessively. When GI distress is the cause, the licking may occasionally be directed at the flanks of the abdomen. For a more accurate diagnosis of this as a potential source of licking, your veterinarian may want to run diagnostic tests and possibly carry out drug or diet trials.

How to Stop Your Dog From Licking Too Much

Even though some dog licking is normal, if your dog licks you or your home furnishings excessively, it can be annoying. It is important to keep in mind that your reaction to your dog’s licking can actually affect how they behave in the future. 

It almost feels instinctual to stroke your dog’s head when they lick your hand after approaching you, but doing so might teach them to associate licking you with attention. When they are licking the furniture, and you want them to stop, you might approach them and lead them away or try to give them a treat or toy to keep them occupied.

Unfortunately, the opposite behavior may also cause your dog to lick because, even if you correct them, you are still praising them and paying attention to them. The best way to completely stop your dog from licking excessively is to ignore the behavior and give them plenty of things to do to keep them occupied.

Final Thoughts

In the end, if your dog licks excessively and it bothers you, or you just don’t want to deal with the daily barrage of saliva after work.

With a few easy adjustments, you can also try to stop enthusiastic licking. Consistency is key (as with any training). When your dog gets a bit too close for comfort with their tongue, try putting one or more of the strategies mentioned to work. If your dog’s licking behavior is a cause for concern, it is usually best to check in with your veterinarian.

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Amy Towry is a Certified NAVC Pet Nutritionist and pet lover. She is the proud owner of two rescue cats and a rescue dog and her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care, nutrition, and product reviews.
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