Why does my dog keep licking my hands?


Dogs are especially known to lick. You can see them licking your hands, However, some dogs lick for reasons other than love, grooming or showing affection. Such licking can indicate anxiety in the dog or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Therefore it is important to understand the reason behind your dog licking you so you can take action at the right time.

Reasons Why Dogs Lick You

There are several reasons why dogs lick humans. This section will deal with those reasons by dividing the reasons into non-actionable reasons and actionable ones.

Non-Actionable Reasons

Show of Affection

One of the reasons why your dog might be licking your hand is because they are showing affection. Dogs lick each other and humans to show that they are friendly, not aggressive.

When dogs lick, they’re trying to get you to respond and interact with them so that it can be a bonding experience for both of you.

Yes. Dogs are gregarious creatures like humans and have emotions too. They love to be around their owners, and they like to show their affection by licking you.

Assess Your Mood

The answer is yes. Dogs do use their mouths and nose to assess and information about the human beings they live with.

This is called “social referencing“. In a research paper, it was found that dogs recognize human moods through their hormone levels.

Dogs are very good at reading human emotions, and they can tell when you’re sad or angry just by looking at your face.

Dogs can read human emotions | Reuters

Dogs are also very good at assessing your moods including by licking your hands.

Research shows dogs can relate human emotions to subsequent actions (phys.org)

In a very recent article, in May 2022, Karen B. London confirms that the relationship between humans and dogs is for real and dogs have the ability to assess human moods as found in several research papers.

Research shows dogs can relate human emotions to subsequent actions (phys.org)

Dogs by licking your hand are able to sense the level of hormones since they are reflected through the skin.

Here is a very interesting research paper which reveals the connection between the skin and the hormones.

Oxytocin is expressed in epidermal keratinocytes and released upon stimulation with adenosine 5′-[γ-thio]triphosphate in vitro – PubMed (nih.gov)

The Smell Of Your Hand

Dogs like the taste on your hands, maybe something you have eaten, or like the smell of food on your hands. It’s no wonder they want to try it!

Whether you’re in a restaurant or at home, your dog’s nose will be able to detect the scents of food on your hands.

Dogs have about 1,700 taste buds, compared to humans’ 9,000. So if you think its the salt from your sweat, you’re wrong.

Dogs like the taste of different foods and scents, so if they’ve found something new that smells interesting to them, they’ll want to investigate further!


You may have noticed that your dog is more attentive to you when you’re feeling stressed or upset. In fact, he might even try to comfort you by licking your hand.

Dogs have an uncanny ability to sense human emotions and can even use this information to help us out.

For example, if a person is sad or anxious, their dog might lick their hands as a way of comforting them in their moment of need.

Dogs have been with humans for many years and they understand their humans pretty well.

This is why they know when you’re sad or happy, and they’ll react accordingly. They can also tell if you’re a little bit nervous or excited.

If you have a dog and you’re feeling down, your dog will try to cheer you up. Dogs are very loyal and they will always be there for us when we need them most.

Sign of Submission

Dogs lick you as a sign of submission since it believes you are the leader of the pack.

Licking is one of the most common forms of canine communication, and it’s often used to express affection and submission.

Licking is also a way for your dog to show you that it trusts you completely.

You may have noticed that dogs have been known to lick people in a variety of situations—when they’re happy, when they’re sad, when they’re excited or nervous, when they want something (like food), and even when they’re angry or aggressive.

While this behavior can be annoying at times, it’s actually an indication that your dog feels comfortable around you and trusts you enough to submit to your leadership.

Nurturing You

Dogs can lick you as a sign of nurturing you. When your dog licks you, it’s not just because they want to be fed. It’s because they’re showing you how much they love you.

Dogs lick their owners as a way of showing affection and caring for them. They’ll also lick other dogs, but it doesn’t mean the same thing.

Licking another dog is more like “Hello!” or “I’m here!” While licking their owner is more of an act of nurturing and caring for the person in need of attention.

Instinctive Pack Behaviour

Dogs lick you because it’s instinctive pack behavior.

Dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years, and they used to be wild animals. This means that they still have some of their wild instincts in them. One of the most important of these is the desire to be part of a pack, or group.

Licking another dog or person is one way for dogs to show that they belong to the same group as you: it shows affection and trust, and makes them feel more secure.

If you’ve ever had a dog lick your hand or foot (or face!), then you’ve probably felt happy and safe because it’s such a positive thing for them to do!

It also means that your relationship with your dog will grow stronger over time as they continue to show their appreciation this way!

Welcoming You

Dogs can lick you because they are welcoming your return or presence. Dogs are very sociable animals and they usually welcome their owners when they come home by licking them.

This behavior is equivalent to a kiss in humans, so it is normal that your dog licks you in the face when he sees you again after having been away for some time.

It could be that the dog has been waiting for you to come back from work or school and is happy to see you.

If your dog licks you and then does something else like sitting down or lying down, this could mean that the dog is relaxed and content.

Learning About You

Dogs can be very perceptive of your moods, which they can sense through their sense of smell. Your pheromones give off a lot of information about what’s going on in your body—and it doesn’t take much to tip them off that something is wrong.

They also pick up on the other chemicals released when people get anxious, like adrenaline and cortisol (the hormone responsible for stress).

If you show signs of anxiety, such as licking your lips or fidgeting in your seat, a dog may try to comfort you by licking your hand.

When a dog licks your hand or face, they’re taking in the scents that make up what makes you unique—and then storing all those scents in their memory!

So next time your pup gives you a little love nip, know that they’re just trying to get to know you better.


Dogs lick you because they are grooming you.

This is one of the oldest and most enjoyable dog behaviors, and it’s also a way for your dog to show you how much they love you.

Dogs lick their owners because they want to clean them and make them smell good—and because they want to bond with their owners.

Dogs are pack animals, so it’s natural for them to groom each other in order to bond and create social order within their group.

When a dog licks another dog’s face, it’s his way of saying “You’re in charge” or “I respect you.”

So when your dog licks your face, he’s not just trying to clean himself off—he’s showing that he respects and adores you!

Just A Habit

Do you know why dogs lick you?

It’s not because they think you’re delicious. It’s because they have habituated to licking you. They are encouraged to do it because they get your attention and love in return.

Habituation is when a behavior becomes automatic, and dogs like licking things. So if you let your dog lick your hand or face, eventually their brain will associate those behaviors with happiness.

Actionable Reasons


Some dogs will lick your hands or arms when they are anxious. This is a sign that the dog is trying to calm themselves down.

Dogs have a lot of emotions, but one of the strongest is fear. A dog that is afraid might exhibit signs of stress such as: trembling, panting, hiding, drooling and even urinating.

The most common cause for stress in dogs is separation anxiety. When you leave your dog alone for longer than they’re used to being left alone (usually about 5 hours), they can become upset and stressed out because they’re not sure where you are or when you’ll be back.

This is why it’s important to create a routine for how long your dog will be left alone and stick with that routine every time so that they know exactly when someone will be coming home!

Another type of anxiety is general anxiety, when your dog feels stressed by their environment or there is a change in their environment.

In either case, it is important to attend to this by consulting professionals.

Obsessive Compulsive Behaviour

If your dog is licking you, it may be a sign of boredom. It’s important to remember that dogs are creatures of habit and love routine.

Dogs can lick you if they have an obsessive compulsive disorder.

A dog’s obsessive compulsive disorder can lead to excessive grooming and licking of themselves or others. If your dog is licking you excessively, it could be a sign that something is wrong.

In the case of dogs, this means that they are compulsively licking themselves or other objects in their environment.

The best way to treat this problem is by getting professional help from a trainer or vet who specializes in animal behavior issues.

Pain Or Illness

If your dog is licking you and they usually don’t, they’re probably trying to tell you something.

Maybe they have an internal medical issue or are in pain from some kind of injury.

This can be especially true if your dog has recently been spayed or neutered.

You should call your vet immediately to check on the health of your pet.

Seeking Attention

It could be that your dog is trying to get your attention. He may be thinking, “Hey! Look at me! I’m cute!” If this is the case, try giving him more attention in other ways—maybe by playing with him or giving him a new toy.

If he keeps licking your hands, it might be because he’s not getting enough affection from you. Dogs are pack animals and they need to feel loved by their owners in order to stay happy and healthy.

If you’ve been ignoring your dog lately or not giving him enough attention, then he might be trying to get more from you by licking on his own terms.

Try spending some quality time together so that the two of you can bond again

Why Is Understanding Dog Licking Behavior Important?

Understanding your dog’s licking behavior is important for a number of reasons.

First, it helps you to understand your dog’s emotional needs. Dogs who lick their lips or paws may be trying to calm themselves down or distract themselves from an emotional issue.

Understanding this can help you be more compassionate when your dog starts licking, and can also help you decide whether to intervene or not.

Second, understanding your dog’s licking behavior can help you identify possible health issues.

If your dog licks his paws every day after he comes inside from playing outside, it might be because he has picked up some kind of parasite, like fleas or ticks.

This information can help you take steps toward treating the problem quickly so that it doesn’t become serious and affect both of your lives!

Understanding how dogs communicate with each other—and how this communication differs from what we do—is key to building trust and understanding between pets and owners.

Differentiating The Lick – How To Know it Needs Attention

How do you know when a lick is different from the rest? If your dog licks your hands and then moves away after a few licks, it’s likely that they are just expressing their love for you. However, if they continue the licking behavior to an excessive level, it may be cause for concern.

Breed affects the way dogs communicate their emotions to humans. Licking is an affectionate display in many breeds including Poodles and Shih Tzu’s as well as other small dogs such as Yorkies and Malteses.

However some breeds will also use this behavior to show submission such as Labradors or German Shepherds so it’s important not to interpret dog behavior too literally here!

If you notice that your dog has been licking excessively over several days and has changed behavior it’s important that you address this issue with your vet because there could be an underlying medical condition causing them distress which should be treated accordingly.

What To Do If You Don’t Like Your Dog Licking You?

If you find yourself wanting to avoid your dog’s tongue on your face, you’re not alone!

There are many reasons why a dog might lick their owner—to show affection, to communicate that they need something, or even just because they’ve seen other dogs do it.

It can be confusing and frustrating when a dog’s actions aren’t what we want them to be. One thing you can do is consult with a dog behaviour expert.

They can help you understand why your dog is acting the way he does and how to fix it. Another option is to reward him when he does not lick, so that he learns not to do it as often.

Another option is using a neem paste (fresh leaves neatly washed). Apply it on the area in which he likes to lick and wash off after few minutes. When he licks you, the taste will make him stop licking.

Things To Remember

Remember that lotions, perfumes, cream and powders on your skin can be unsafe for dogs when they lick you and cancerous too.

When we think of the causes of this cancer in dogs, we often focus on genetics or environmental factors such as chemicals in our homes or food sources. But did you know there’s one other major risk factor? You.

That’s right—the products you use on your skin are actually one of the causes of cancer in dogs. According to NCCF, “skin care products are known to contain ingredients that can cause cancer in humans and dogs.”

Dogs have a habit of licking their owners after smelling a new scent, which means that if you use any kind of lotion or perfume on yourself, they’ll ingest some of those potentially harmful chemicals every time they lick you.

So make sure that you are all neat, washed and clean for your dog. Sounds paradoxical but necessary.


Most dogs lick out of love and affection. It is a sign of trust and social bonding. If you have a dog that licks excessively, it’s important to know why your pet does this. Excessive licking may be a sign of pain or illness in certain breeds of dogs, so it’s important to have your pet checked out by a veterinarian if this behavior continues for more than three days at a time. In other cases, just enjoy your dog’s licks.


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