• December 28th, 2022
    Written by: Kimberly

    Many dog owners will thank their dogs for kisses after getting a few licks on the hand or face. But dog licks are not exactly the same as human kisses. There are many reasons that dogs may lick.

    Some reasons do indicate your dog’s love while other factors can indicate a health issue. Understanding why your dog is licking offers some insight into your dog’s brain.

    The Science Behind Dogs Licking

    Scientists have good reason to believe that dogs will lick out of affection. When observing wolves and wild dogs, scientists have noted dogs licking each other's snouts when one returns to the pack. Licking is also a grooming behavior between mothers and young dogs. Your dog could be imitating these behaviors with you when you get home from work or you are cuddling together on the couch.

    There are also several other reasons scientists have noted for licking behavior.  These include:

    • You Have Just Eaten - If you recently ate, your breath and the area around your mouth will smell like food. Your dog could be seeking out bits of food when she licks your mouth. Some scientists suspect that your dog is encouraging you to regurgitate your food since mother dogs do this in the wild to feed their pups.
    • Your Skin is Salty - If your skin has salty sweat on it or another good flavor, your dog might like the way you taste and is licking you to get more of the taste.
    • Your Dog is Anxious - Licking is a common anxious behavior that dogs will do to try to calm themselves. If your dog licks continuously and will often return to licking shortly after you stop her, then you might consider mitigating anxiety through more frequent physical and mental stimulation.
    • New Health Problem - If a dog has developed a recent health problem, licking themself or you may be their way of coping with the pain or discomfort. You should visit your vet if your dog’s licking behavior drastically changes in a short amount of time.

    Although every lick may not be an affectionate kiss, it can still often indicate the trust your dog has for you. Like any other behavior, you can also encourage it or teach your dog not to lick by redirecting the behavior into something more appropriate such as playing with a toy.