Why Does My Dog Lick Me So Much?

Four minutes
Apr 28, 2023

Have you ever gotten a big ol’ lick right across the face from your pup? Some owners may find this behavior endearing while others may not find it as such. If you have a dog that seems to love licking you, you may find yourself wondering what’s going through their head when they do it.

Keep reading to get a better idea of why dogs lick, when it may become a problem, and how to get your pup to stop the behavior if it needs to be curbed.

Why Does My Dog Lick Me?

Answering the question of why dogs lick could take a while. Licking is a normal behavior for dogs and pinpointing exactly what each lick means can be difficult. There are several reasons why dogs lick. Dogs tend to lick in order to:1

  • Explore their surroundings through taste and scent
  • Taste something or when they’re hungry
  • Seek attention
  • Groom themselves or others
  • Show affection

Licking can also be a health or behavioral issue. For instance, the act of licking could help dogs feel calm and comforted since this is what a mother normally does for her puppies when she grooms them.2 Your dog could be licking you to show their affection for you, to get a taste of you (or maybe the food you just ate), to ask you to pay attention to them, or to provide them with a feeling of comfort if they feel anxious or stressed.

When Is Dog Licking a Problem?

In addition to licking you, your dog may also lick themselves or other objects. This is normally harmless, even if your dog licks a lot. But it may become a problem if excessive licking is causing you or anyone else discomfort — we get it, some people just don’t like being slobbered on and that’s okay!

It may also become a problem if it’s ruining furniture or other objects that aren’t meant for your pup to lick. This could get them into trouble if they lick something that could harm them. When it comes to licking themselves, your dog’s excessive licking could lead to tongue sores, infections, or bald spots on the areas of the body they’re licking.

If your dog won’t stop licking you or it’s getting out of hand in any way, it can be a good idea to chat with your veterinarian. There could be an underlying health issue causing them to lick like pain, allergies, an injury, or arthritis.1,2 This could be especially true if your dog wasn’t a big licker before but suddenly starts to lick a lot. It could also be a sign of stress, anxiety, or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) — any of which may require both medical and behavioral treatment.1,2

What Can You Do To Help a Licking Problem?

If your vet diagnoses your dog with a health issue based on their licking, you can work together to treat them. Once the condition that caused the licking is treated or managed, your pup will likely return to their normal licking behavior.

If you and your vet determine the licking is a behavioral issue, there are a few things you can do to get your dog to stop licking:1,2

  • Ignore the behavior. You can try to move the body part your dog is licking away from them slowly and without giving them your attention. You may have to leave the room if they’re not getting the picture, but eventually they may understand that licking you isn’t something you like and stop doing it.
  • Redirect the behavior. You can use certain objects or tasks to help redirect your dog’s licking to something else the moment it happens. Food puzzles, training treats, going for a walk, having play time, or teaching them a new trick can all be helpful in redirecting to a positive behavior when the licking starts.
  • Reward good behavior. Instead of giving your pup negative attention or scolding when they’re licking, focus on rewarding them with praise and attention when they’re doing what you want — whether it’s a successful redirect or getting them to stop licking after you ignore it.
  • Be consistent. Allowing your dog to lick sometimes and not others can confuse them. If you want to break the habit of licking, be consistent in not letting them lick you to send a clear message.
  • Treat them with kindness. Whether it’s a health or behavioral issue, most of the time your dog isn’t trying to upset you with their licking. Be patient and understanding as it could take time to break the habit.

If you’ve tried all of the above and you find yourself asking, “Why does my dog keep licking me?,” it may be a good idea to chat with a dog behavior specialist. You and your pup may benefit from some professional training to resolve the licking habit so everyone is happy.

Keep Your Pup Healthy With the Help of MetLife Pet

Your dog’s licks may just be their way of connecting with you and their surroundings. But if the licks turn out to be a sign of an underlying health condition, an endearing habit may turn into an unexpected vet bill. Having an award-winning3 MetLife Pet dog insurance policy in your back pocket can help you get your dog the care they need to keep them healthy and happy. Check out our FAQ page to learn more or get your free personalized quote today.

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1 “Why Does My Dog Lick Me?,” Fetch by WebMD

2 “Why Is My Dog Licking Me?,” American Kennel Club

3 “2023 Pet Insurance of the Year Award” Winners, Pet Independent Innovation Awards

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