why do dogs like to lick

why do dogs like to lick


Why Do Dogs Like to Lick?


You see it every day: the endless licks of your furry friend. You might even wonder, “Why do dogs love to lick so much?” Well, you’re certainly not alone. Today, we’re going to delve deep into this quirky canine behavior that leaves many of us both perplexed and mildly amused.

The Science Behind the Licks

Dogs lick for a variety of reasons. For some, it’s a way of exploring their environment. A dog’s sense of taste and smell is much stronger than ours, and licking allows them to gather a wealth of information about their surroundings.

  • Taste: Dogs have around 1,700 taste buds compared to our 9,000. While they may not be able to distinguish flavors as well as we can, their sense of taste is still incredibly important to them.
  • Smell: A dog’s sense of smell is 1,000 to 10,000 times stronger than ours. When your dog is licking, they’re not only tasting but also smelling their environment.

The Emotional Connection

Licking behavior in dogs also carries a lot of emotional significance. It can be a sign of affection, a signal that they’re feeling anxious or stressed, or a way to seek attention.

  1. Affection: Licking releases endorphins that can make your dog feel calm and content. It’s their way of showing love and care.
  2. Anxiety: Dogs may lick when they’re feeling nervous or anxious, as a sort of self-soothing mechanism.
  3. Attention Seeking: Dogs are smart, and they quickly learn that licking can get them the attention they crave.

The Health Implications

While licking is generally a normal dog behavior, excessive licking can sometimes be a sign of underlying health issues. It’s always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian if you notice any changes in your dog’s licking behavior.

Potential Health Issue Description
Allergies Dogs might lick their paws or skin due to discomfort caused by allergies.
Parasites Fleas, mites, or other parasites can cause itching, leading to excessive licking.
Pain If your dog is licking a specific area excessively, they could be trying to soothe a painful spot.

How to Manage Excessive Licking

If your dog’s licking has become a concern, there are several strategies that can help manage this behavior:

  • Provide plenty of mental and physical stimulation to keep your dog occupied.
  • Redirect the behavior by providing chew toys or treats.
  • Consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist.
  • Seek veterinary advice to rule out any health issues.


Q: Why does my dog lick me so much?
A: It could be a sign of affection, or your dog might be trying to get your attention.

Q: Is excessive licking harmful to my dog?
A: If it’s due to an underlying health issue or causing skin irritation, it could be harmful. Always consult with a vet if you’re concerned.

Q: Can I stop my dog from licking?
A: While you can’t completely stop a dog from licking, you can manage and redirect the behavior with training and stimulation.