When my dog licks me, what is he communicating?

Kiko is a 3 year old castrated male. Before we met he was a street dog.

I have taught him not to lick my face. But he licks everywhere else. I am not real fond of it. But, I don’t want to deny his investigation of the world.

So, why do you think he likes to lick me? Maybe it is the salt of my perspiration? I realize his sensory perception is limited. He doesn’t have opposable thumbs, and his mouth is probably a source of information.

I know it is difficult to walk in his paws, and determine why he does it. But, you dopers are smart, and may have some insight.

Gracias for sharing.

Well, my dog, if allowed, will lick any and every available surface on a person’s body (and this includes clothed surfaces). And he will continue licking and licking and licking, long after any salt or perspiration is gone. It seems more like a pathology than anything else.

Thanks Ambivalid. I guess I am trying to read too much into it.

It’s just salt.

says the cat owner

“Hi, I’m a dog.”

A little bit of licking may mean he loves you. A lot usually means he likes the taste of you. It certainly can mean both.

I have read it’s a soothing behaviour for them, like a child sucking their thumb. If so, it makes sense that some dogs may be a bit obsessed with it.

“I am so eating you when you die.”

This tell reasons why dogs lick people faces and one is to tell you they’re hungry which I was thinking . Wolves do this with mothers so has to be an
instinct that dogs still have.

His sensory perception is considerably better than yours. Practically every other mammal on the planet has better hearing and odor detection than humans do, in addition to decent eyesight and sensitivity to touch. (And I only added that practically to head off the inevitable.)

But you’re right that animals, in general, are like toddlers in using their mouths to explore their world.

As far as the licking goes, some dogs are more into mouthing things than others. Some will lick their paws or carpet or a pillow. It can be related to both nerves and/or boredom.

Have you tried giving hi a chewtoy or a teddy?

When my dog licks me, what is he communicating?

Maybe rabies?

Most of the time, a dog will lick you for the same reason you kiss the dog. They concentrate on the face for the same reason we do.

They learn licking as a way of showing affection/feeling good from their mother.

Works for dogs, cats and dogs & cats:


Continuous licking has nothing to do with “cleaning” the owner.

unless you’ve just been cooking bacon.

I have read that it is also a submissive behavior.

My Lab is communicating that there’s a wad of pill-containing peanut butter on my finger that needs to be slurped up, pronto.


He’s saying hello, and in this pack you’re the higher ranking dog.

If it’s a BIG dog who doesn’t know me, I consider licking to be pre-digestion until proven otherwise.