What Does It Mean When Dogs Lick?

Many dog owners have experienced the feeling of having their pup’s wet tongue on their face, hands, and feet. But why do dogs lick? Is it just a sign of affection, or is there more to this behavior?

Let’s take a look at what your pup is trying to tell you when they lick.

Licking as Communication

Dogs use licking as a way to communicate with humans and other animals. It all comes down to canine body language.

If your pup is licking another dog, they are usually showing submission and respect—similar to how we shake hands with one another.

When dogs lick humans, however, it’s often seen as a sign of affection or even begging for attention. Dogs also may lick people in an effort to get food or water from them.

The “Cleaner” Dog

Some pet owners may think that their pup is trying to clean them when they lick, but this isn’t the case!

Dogs don’t actually have any need to keep us clean; they simply have an instinctual desire (or urge) to groom others because they are pack animals by nature.

In fact, if you observe two dogs who are playing together, you will often see one licking the other in order to show that he is friendly and non-threatening.

Anxiety or Stress Relief

Dogs sometimes lick themselves and others out of anxiety or stress relief. If your pup has been through something stressful recently—like a move or being introduced to a new home—they may be expressing their feelings through licking behavior.

And if your pup licks themselves excessively, especially around the paws or mouth area, it could be an indication that they’re feeling anxious or stressed out and need some extra comfort from you!


In conclusion, licking is not just an instinctual behavior for dogs; it’s also an important form of communication between pups and humans alike!

While some dogs may use licking as a way to beg for food or attention, most often it’s just a sign of love and affection from our furry friends. So next time your pup licks you on the face, arm, or hand—know that it means something special!

Just be sure to give them plenty of hugs and kisses in return so they know how much you care about them too!

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