Why Do Dogs Lick Their Humans? A Vet Explains


Why Do Dogs Lick Their Humans? A Vet Explains

Is your pooch trying to tell you something? Here’s how to find out.
By Sarah Gerrity Updated October 05, 2022 Advertisement Pin FB More Tweet Email Send Text Message Print

One of the most common questions that emergency and critical care veterinary specialist Mariana Pardo, DVM, gets is "why does my dog lick me?" Like many questions about animal behavior, Pardo says there are several different explanations.

dog licking woman's face; why do dogs lick their humans?
dog licking woman's face; why do dogs lick their humans? Credit: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Getty

Here are the basics of why dogs lick their humans:

  • It might just be that they like you! Just like mother dogs who lick their pups when they're young to show affection, dogs often pass that behavior on to you.
  • Or it could be for attention! Maybe they just want to play, or they're trying to tell you something—like they need to go outside or they're ready for dinner.
  • And finally … some dogs just like the salty taste of your skin!

That said, if you're afraid your pup's licking habit is bordering on the obsessive, be sure to contact your vet. They'll be able to help figure out what's causing the licking, and the best way to resolve it.

So Why Do Dogs Lick Your Feet?

Because your pooch is low to the ground, your feet provide easy access for a love lick or a lingering lap to get your attention. Plus, no offense, but your feet may also be slightly stinky or sweaty—characteristics many dogs love!

If the licking is bothersome, don't reprimand your pet. Instead, distract them from their mission with an interactive toy. However, there's a fine line between rewarding them for the behavior and stopping the foot bath before it starts. If you need a refresher on training, try these six easy tips for positive reinforcement training, or talk to your vet or a trainer for additional ideas.

Now, if your dog spends a lot of time licking their own feet, this may be normal grooming or a sign of anxiety, an injury, or perhaps allergies. If the paw licking continues, it's time to consult a vet.

Additional reporting by Melissa Locker.

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