5 Reasons Why Dogs Like to Lick You and Themselves

Here’s a scenario you, as a dog owner, can probably relate to. You’re in the park with your labrador retriever when he spots a familiar neighbor relaxing on a bench. He goes bounding over, full of affection. Your neighbor greets him delightedly with a few pats and hellos, and your dog leaps up on the bench and starts slobbering all over her face with a big wet doggy tongue. You come rushing up with apologies and some tissues. You begin to wonder why dogs like to lick human faces. In actual fact, dogs also like to lick themselves and other canines, and here are five reasons why.

  1. Dogs Like to Show Affection

This is the most common reason why your best friend likes to lick you and your neighbor. Affectionate licking causes the release of endorphins that not only provide pleasure but also calm and comfort your dog.

  1. People Taste Good

You’ve probably noticed that your dog likes licking around his food bowl after the kibble has been gobbled up or your kitchen floor after you’ve cleaned up a spill. It’s evident that he likes the taste of whatever food traces have been left behind. A human’s skin also tastes good (and salty) and dogs enjoy licking it.

  1. Dogs Like to Groom

You might not think that your dog is as concerned with hygiene as your cat, but dogs often engage in licking to clean themselves. However, be aware if your dog seems to be excessively licking his anal area[1], as this may indicate a problem with the anal glands.

  1. Dogs Lick to Heal

Dog saliva contains bacteria-killing enzymes. When your dog licks himself, he may be helping to get rid of any dead tissue or keep a wound clean. However, dogs can get carried away with licking to the point where they may reopen closed wounds or cause other kinds of harm[2].

  1. Dogs are Communicators

Dogs lick other dogs as a form of doggy language. They may be saying let’s be friends, or I submit to you. They also use licking to tell people things – I love you, or it’s time to play. If your dog is licking you with intensity, it’s possible that he’s telling you something is wrong – my water bowl is empty, or the doggie door is closed.

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