Why Do Dogs Lick? Answered [With Infographic]

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
In this article, you will learn why dogs lick their body parts and when you should be worried.

If you ever wondered: “Why do dogs lick people?” or “Why dogs lick themselves?” we have got you covered.

It is well-known that dogs do unusual things, such as walking in circles or simply licking their body parts with unusual passion. Since they don’t speak human, they are masters at body language.

Dogs communicate with humans and other animals using their bodies. This is why understanding their body movement is so important.

Dog lick to express their wants and needs, simply to cure themselves, or show that they are in pain.

For example, your dog might be licking himself excessively which could mean that he is having some health issues, or he can start licking everything around him, meaning that he might have some behavioral problems.

Licking isn’t something that dog owners should in general be worried about.

Dogs of different ages, sizes, and temperaments do it. However, there are some situations when this behavior could be a sign of underlying health issues.

Let’s see the top ten reasons why dogs lick.

1. Dogs Lick To Show How They Feel

Always observe your dog to know how he feels.

If you start monitoring your dog from day one, you will know how he acts in different surroundings. This is why veterinarians always ask if your dog is acting his usual.

Every dog licks. However, the way they lick tells a lot about their moods.

For example, if your dog wags his tail, approaches you, and licks your hand, it means that Fido is just excited and happy about something.

On the other hand, if your dog sits in the corner all day long, with his ear set down while licking, it may be an indicator that he is worried about something.

2. Your Dog Is Pointing Out the Problem

A dog licking himself too much might be an alert.

Licking may occur when a dog is nervous, or in a bad condition.

Licking may also be a way of saying how it’s feeling lonely and unhappy. This is something that usually appears in dogs that are left alone for long hours.

To avoid this always be honest about whether getting a dog is the right decision for you or not.

If you have experience with dogs, but you spend long hours outside your home, and you still want a dog, consider breeds that tolerate being left alone.

Good to know: In some cases, licking may be a sign of skin issues your pet has that you’re not aware of.

Overall, if licking tends to happen frequently, you may want to take your Fido to the vet.

3. Showing Their Submission

A dog will lick another dog to surrender himself.

This shouldn’t be taken as something bad – young dogs would often run to the older ones and lick their face.

It’s also happening between small and big dogs.

That is a way of showing submission, but also an open invitation to play.

It’s something like starting a conversation with someone older in the human world, but with much respect.

This fact only shows us that dogs are actually extremely nice creatures that aren’t intrusive and that know how to behave in most cases.

4. Licking Is A Form Of Expressing Love

Licking is dogs’ way of kissing!

You may love it, or not, but dogs will lick you to show their love toward you.

When next time a dog approaches you trying to lick your hand, let it be. It is a way of expressing love.

If you are fine with a dog licking your hands or even face, you should still be careful if you are sensitive.

Sometimes human lips or even eyes cannot stand all of that love and licking, and in some cases, a strong irritation may appear. Just be mindful of that.

5. Your Dog Relieves Stress

Licking is a dog’s way of relieving stress.

When stressed you may go for a nice run, or hit the gym, while dogs will choose to stay calm and lick.

Some people may choose to bite their nails or lips when nervous, while dogs will lick themselves. Sometimes dogs may even lick their lips when they have some medical or behavioral issues.

If you notice your dog continually licking himself, monitor him closely and check his skin for any sign of change.

Licking can often be a sign of an underlying health condition. Exaggeration is never something that you want to see in your dog.

6. Your Dog Just Loves The Taste

Dogs lick everything that smells nice or strong.

They are highly sensitive to different smells, and anything with a strong smell keeps them entertained. This is why they will often go after your feet and lick them.

Dogs are not attracted to feet, as much as they are attracted to a strong smells.

Plus, you have probably noticed that your dog will always try to lick your fingers after eating something with your fingers, which your dog finds hard to resist.

We’ve all been through situations when our dogs go crazy after eating stuff like bacon or any other meat, right?

7. Marking What’s Theirs

Dogs are territorial beings and making what’s theirs is something that even puppies will do.

This is something that comes naturally to them, which is why marking territory is often an issue, especially if you are apartment-based.

Did you know that next to urine, a dog’s spit is also great for marking territory?

Dogs may use licking as a form of connection with other dogs. This “technique” is mostly used by a mother dog that licks her little puppies, and vice versa.

Many behaviors that may seem unusual from our point of view, can be explained easily if you learn how mother-dog handles her puppies.

A very strong proof that spit is a great marking territory tool is that dogs will usually avoid the bowls or toys of other dogs.

They will commonly choose not to mess with other dogs’ property, even if we are talking about toys.

8. Licking Is A Way of Communication

Dog’s spit also works when it comes to sending a message.

Since dogs do not communicate as other people do, they tend to use their spit to communicate with each other.

This is something that is best seen in the relationship between mother-dog and her puppies.

In that way, mother dogs are telling their puppies how to behave and to calm down when they get too annoying.

This same method may be seen as a form of communication between dogs that don’t know each other.

Unfortunately, dogs are also trying to lick us to tell us something, but we’re not quite capable of understanding it.

9. They Lick To Groom Themselves

Believe it or not, dogs, also want to look nice in front of other dogs. Not literally, of course, but licking is a way to clean themselves.

Some dogs are more cat-like such as Basenji and they may spend hours grooming themselves, while others are more chill breeds.

Dogs’ way of cleaning and grooming their hair is licking it – it’s basically the same as us washing our teeth every morning. That being said, if you notice your Fido licking his hair daily for some period, he is fine.

It means that he is grooming himself. They may do it more often in the mating season.

10. Medicine for Wounds

Dogs may choose to lick themselves as a form of medicine.

When a dog has a wound, it is more likely that he will try to heal it on its own.

Since dog spit has enzymes that kill bacteria found in the skin, it doesn’t surprise much that they chose to lick their body. This is a way of self-healing.

Of course, we’re talking about small ones which are not harmful or deep. However, dogs can reopen their wounds by overlicking them, so pay attention when you see it doing that – it might get dangerous.

If you notice any sort of wound on your dog make sure that you react appropriately. What to do if you notice your dog licking the pus? If you notice this sort of behavior know that you should contact your veterinarian.

So, if your dog gets a cut that you find harmful, take it to the vet, who could definitely tell a better diagnosis for all of its problems instead of you or your pet – it’s always better to be careful when it comes to your pet’s health, instead of letting it solve the problem on its own.

Now that you know why your dog might lick himself so much, let’s what is the link that dogs have with licking people and licking furniture.

Plus – keep on scrolling to get an infographic on why do dogs lick.

Why Do Dogs Lick People?

Dogs lick people to show affection. Licking is a dog’s way of kissing, but dogs also lick when they’re seeking attention.

People tend to react positively to licking, so when a pup licks his owner more often, it can mean that he just wants more attention. The salty taste of human skin may also incline dogs into licking us!

Why Is My Dog Licking Himself?

A normal amount of licking is the way dogs, groom, clean, and relax. But when the licking gets excessive and frequent, it might indicate certain medical or behavioral issues.

For instance, your dog could be licking his paws or parts because he’s feeling pain, has an allergy, or has an irritation.

Excessive grooming can also be a sign of boredom.

Why Is My Dog Licking Furniture?

Defining why dogs lick everything that comes near them (furniture and carpets included) is very difficult.

It probably lies in a behavioral problem that should be approached properly. It is not a good habit, because by collecting a large amount of dust and hair while licking, this behavior could potentially harm your dog’s health.

However, observing your dog’s behavior will provide you with enough information that your vet will easily understand. But now, let’s find out what are the most common reasons why dogs lick!

Frequently Asked Questions On Why Do Dogs Lick?

1. Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws?

Commonly, dogs will lick their paws as part of self-grooming routines. This may be more frequent in cat-like breeds, but all dogs do it in general.

Still, no matter how much your dog might be into self-grooming practice, or not, know that any sort of excessive licking is still a red flag.

2. Why Do Dogs Lick Your Feet?

Dogs will lick you to show their love and affection toward you, but why do they choose to focus on a single body part more than others?

Why do they always go after the feet? Feet naturally have strong smells that dogs love.

It is not only great to smell, but it also tells them a lot about you.

3. Why Do Dogs Lick Your Face?

Your face or your ear… Dogs do not see a big difference here, as they just want to show you affection. Plus, this is a way for them to groom you as well and express themselves.

Your dog may choose to lick your face to show you his love, to get your attention, or just to remove a specific sense from your face.

4. Why Do Dogs Lick Each Others Ears?

This is another way dogs groom themselves.

Since they can not reach their own ears (in most cases) they will reach toward other dogs to help them out. Plus, this is a nice way for dogs to show that they are comfortable grooming each other.

5. Why Do Dogs Lick Themselves?

Dogs will usually lick themselves as a soothing method. They may do this when they are nervous, stressed, or when there is a wound that they want to heal.

why do dogs lick infographic by barkingroyalty

Embed this infographic on your site: