Does your dog lick you when you pet them? Why is that? You’re giving them a lovely stroke, and then they decide you need a good slobbery wash. Some of us don’t mind, but many people are not keen on dogs licking them when they try to pet them.

To give you a full understanding as to why dogs lick you when you pet them, we’ve created this guide to give you all the info. So, should you stop your dog from licking you when you pet them? How you can stop them licking you, and whether you need to be concerned if your dog is licking you when you pet them. 

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corgi with tongue out
Photo by Alvan Nee on Unsplash

Why do dogs lick you when you pet them?

Dogs will often lick you when you pet them to show affection, and because they want you to continue. They also lick you to absorb your scent and to groom you. Licking can also be an appeasement behaviour and a means of communicating that they are not completely comfortable.

Dogs will lick you to show affection

Licking is a very natural behaviour for dogs; they lick one another, and they’ll often lick our hands, and faces, or lick us generally when we pet them. When they lick us, it releases endorphins so it feels good to them.

Dogs lick you to take in your scent

Yes, licking you when you’re petting them can be because they’re taking in your scent. Dogs use their tongues to pick up odourless particles, which then go into the Jacobson’s organ, which is located between their nose and mouth and requires a physical presence in order to detect the scent. They also sometimes sneeze when going through this process to clear the airways and take fresh scents in.

Dogs lick you to groom you

If your dog is licking you when you pet them, it might be because they’re giving you a wash! Yes, dogs frequently groom one another by licking, so perhaps you’ve got something sticky or leftover dirt on you that you can’t see, so they’re just cleaning you up.

Dogs lick as an appeasement gesture

Licking when being petted can be a dog’s way of communicating that they’re not that comfortable and want you to stop. You might also see mouthing, biting, or other signs they’re uncomfortable, like panting or sneezing.

Labrador with tongue out
Photo by James Barker on Unsplash

Should I stop my dog from licking me when I pet them?

Whether you should stop your dog from licking you when you pet them depends on if you like it or not! There’s nothing wrong with your dog licking you, and it can be a lovely bonding experience for you both. 

Worth keeping in mind, though, that saliva can be a bit stinky if your puppy is teething or your dog has dental problems and needs their teeth cleaned!

4 ways to stop my dog from licking me when I pet them

If you want to stop your dog from licking you when you pet them, just follow these tips to help prevent it.

1. Give them something else to put their mouth on

You can offer them a toy to hold in their mouth or give them a blanket or cushion they can lick so that their tongue is on something else and not you. This will prevent your dog from licking you while you pet them.

2. Stop petting them if they start licking you

If your dog licks you when you get them, then simply removing your hands will help them to learn that licking = fun stops.

3. See if certain places on their body make them lick you more

If your dog only licks you when you touch certain parts of them, then don’t pet those areas! Sounds easy right?  Some dogs struggle with handling and grooming, especially their paws and nails, so see if those areas are more sensitive and they’re licking you because they don’t want you to touch them there.

4. Ask your dog to leave it

Teaching your puppy the ‘leave it’ cue can be useful if you want them to stop licking you when you pet them. You can use verbal praise and continue stroking them if they stop licking to reward them. If they don’t, then you can remove your hands. Make sure you teach the leave-it cue from the beginning using kind methods, we don’t want our dogs to be scared of us stroking them or that doing this very normal behaviour (for them at least, it’s a bit odd for us) will get them told off. 

cockapoo with tongue out
Photo by Mia Anderson on Unsplash

Should I be worried that my dog is licking me when I pet them?

Dogs licking you and one another as a sign of affection is very normal behaviour and is not usually a cause for concern. If your dog is showing signs of pain or is only licking you when you touch certain parts, it’s worth seeing a Vet to ensure there’s nothing up.

Any sudden behaviour change is always worth reviewing and keeping track of as we want our dogs to be healthy and happy, and the body language they display can be an easy way of telling how they feel.

So, why do dogs lick you when you pet them? We hope we’ve helped you answer that, it’s mainly due to affection and them enjoying it, but it can also be a way of communicating that they’re not comfortable or just taking in your scent. It’s not usually anything to worry about, and whether you want to stop them licking you is your call. If you decide to stop your dog licking you when you pet them, then do so with patience, consistency and positive reinforcement. 

If you fancy reading some more about the funny things that dogs do, check out our articles on puppy facts, why do dogs lick their paws, or why do dogs roll in grass for more.
We have content like this and much much more inside the Zigzag puppy training app. We’ll take you on a journey through your dog’s emotional milestones and give you the best positive reinforcement training. Have a chat with our professional dog trainers too, they’ll give you lots of ideas for things you can do with your puppy and help you understand why your puppy might be doing the things they do.