Why Does My Dog Keep Licking Me

Why Does My Dog Keep Licking Me

Dogs get the nickname of man's best friend for the closeness that develops, their affectionate nature and their communication style. Just as a bark or wagging tail tells you something - from danger to happiness - a lick also sends a message - often one of affection and caring that mimics how dogs interact with each other.

Yet, licks, especially when regular or constant, may also indicate a behavioral issue. If you're wondering why your dog constantly licks you - and doesn't seem to stop - understand the potential sources of and reasons for this behavior:


Whether your dog licks your face as you walk through the door or as you're hanging around together at home, this action often signals affection and fondness for you. Licking in this context reflects how a mother cares for and shows love toward its pups - and the pups tend to return the favor - and your dog is displaying this behavior toward you.

In terms of interacting with you as its owner, licking as a sign of affection often gets used as a greeting to welcome your return home or show that it's happy to see you. At the same time, licking also supposedly causes your dog to release endorphins.


Dogs tend to prefer salty-tasting foods and objects. Constant licking can mean your dog likes the taste of your skin. Licking, in this case, picks up in frequency after you've exercised or done an activity that caused you to sweat more - for example, yard work. Licking, especially your face, may also involve your dog tasting and liking a recently consumed food.

Sensory Stimulation

Licking further serves as an exploratory tool for dogs. It may deploy this tactic to get to know something unfamiliar or to better use their senses. To this end, dogs can over-lick when feeling bored and seek more mental and sensory stimulation.


On the topic of communication and human-dog mirroring, your pup eventually starts to understand your emotions more. Just as you begin to pick up and decipher its body language, it studies you enough to understand when you've had a rough or otherwise difficult day. Licking and a nuzzle may be your dog's way of giving you a hug during a challenging time.

Getting Your Attention

In terms of getting your attention, some dogs bark when it wants something, be it food, a walk, to relieve themselves or to go outside and play. Others take a less-overt approach by licking your hand.

This factor, too, is evolutionary and goes back to dogs licking its lips to show that it's hungry. Domesticated dogs may perform this action whenever it has a want and expects you to fulfill it.


For a dog dealing with anxiety, licking may be an adaptive or self-soothing behavior:

  • You may have yelled at your dog, causing it to feel anxious. Your dog may then attempt to calm or soothe you by licking, hoping you'll stop yelling.
  • Certain breeds experience separation anxiety more than others. A lick, especially once you return home after several hours, may be a way of showing, "I'm glad to see you."
  • Your dog may be generally anxious without a source, as licking releases dopamine and endorphins, your pet may start compulsively doing this behavior to calm itself down. You may notice that your pet also licks itself for this same reason.

To Stop Your Dog's Constant Licking

If you're concerned about your dog constantly licking you:

  • Start with body scent and taste. Trying a different soap or using perfume or cologne can act as a deterrent. Or take a shower immediately after you work out.
  • Consider that your dog is feeling bored, and start playing more engaging games with it, or take it for a walk in a more exploratory environment. Or spend more time tossing a ball or toy, or attempting to teach it a trick.
  • Realize that certain breeds are more anxious than others. Avoid scolding and yelling, as these can up your dog's anxiety. Speak with your veterinarian about addressing separation anxiety if you're regularly away for part of the day.