By Sassafras Lowrey – Published: June 12, 2.019 Updated: June 17, 2.019

Experts weigh in on the meaning behind why dogs lick people

You either love it or hate it: the wet, warm sensation of a dog licking your face. Many of us seek out this kind of interaction with our dogs (sometimes much to the horror of onlookers) while others try to discourage the behavior. Many dog lovers attribute a lot of meaning to dogs licking us, especially if we’re the sort that enjoy it – we say our dogs are giving us kisses and we interpret that as a sign of affection, but are dog kisses really a sign of affection? Or are they just after the leftovers we forgot to wipe off our chins?

Why do Dogs Lick People?

Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Chair of The Association of Professional Dog Trainers Nick Hof, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, KPA-CTP, CSAT, explains there are a lot of reasons why dogs lick people’s hands, feet or faces. It might mean your dog wants to show you affection, but it could also be because you taste good or that your dog is struggling with compulsive behavior. If you are wearing sweet-scented lotion, or come home sweaty, your dog might be licking you because you taste good. I know my own dogs are very excited to lick my hands if I’ve been eating something greasy or salty, like potato chips. Hof mentions that dog guardians shouldn’t be alarmed by their dogs finding them delicious – they probably won’t take a bite out of you! While most of the time dog kisses aren’t anything to be concerned about, Hof warns there are times when the kissing might be a sign of something else going on with your dog. He advises that there might be an underlying health issue “if the licking seems to be compulsive, excessive, or self-destructive; if it is difficult to redirect your dog or they are harming themselves, you should consult with your veterinarian for help addressing this issue.”

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