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Why Do Dogs Really Lick Us?
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Why Do Dogs Really Lick Us?
Feb 16, 2024 - Antelopepets

Dogs use their tongues to explore the world around them and to express their emotions. Many dog owners think of licking as a dog’s way of giving kisses – but are there other reasons why our canine companions might be doling out licks? 

 

Taste

Let’s be real: sometimes, your dog just wants to lick you because you taste good. Dogs are intrigued by anything with a salty taste, so they may be particularly interested in licking you when you’re sweaty post-workout. Consider it their way of congratulating you on making it to the gym! Your dog may also be extra prone to licks after you’ve made dinner – that tongue is looking to lap up some leftovers. 

 

Anxiety

Dogs also use licking to convey deeper emotions to their owner. When a dog is anxious or nervous, they may lick you to show that they need comfort. Licking helps a dog release endorphins, which allow them to feel more relaxed and at ease. Once a dog has established a deep connection with their owner, they may use licking as a way to signal that they are uneasy and need a little extra TLC. 

 

Empathy

Just as dogs use licking as a way to show their own emotions, they also can sense when their owners are feeling down. As dogs begin to spend more time around their humans, they become more sensitive and aware of our emotions. Our pups are very intelligent and attuned to our feelings and can quickly pick up on sadness or stress. Dogs use licking as a way to show empathy and support when we might need it most.

 

Attention

You may notice your dog begins to lick you while you’re in the middle of binging a new Netflix show or after you’ve been on your laptop for a while. In this scenario, your dog is asking for your attention – most likely so they can ask for something else. A walk, maybe? 

 

Affection

We saved the best for last. The rumors are true: in many cases, dogs lick their owners because they love us so much. Whether you’re getting home from work or giving cuddles on the couch, dogs often lick to show their overwhelming excitement about your presence. Licking is a natural instinct for dogs; they received the same form of affection from their mothers when they were young. Their kisses are a way of showing a deep affection for their owner and a gentle reminder that they love you. (Okay, we’re crying now.) 

One more thing: if licking is out of character for your dog or they start doing it excessively while exhibiting any other signs of illness, they may not be feeling well. Contact your veterinarian if the behavior persists and seems unusual.  

Regardless of the emotion behind your dog’s licks, it takes trust and confidence for your dog to lick you – so be sure to continue showing that you love and appreciate them, too!