Dogs are wonderfully rewarding pets because of how naturally affectionate they are towards their owners.
Whereas humans have easy to understand body language in terms of affection, such as giving our pets kisses and cuddles, dogs have a language all of their own.
It’s natural for us humans to attach human feelings and emotions to our dog’s behavior.
So while we may think that our dog is giving us their version of kisses when they lick us, is that really what our dogs are doing? What does it actually mean when a dog licks you?
Dogs tend to lick each other either as a sign of submission, or when a mother dog is trying to bond with her newborn puppies.
So once your dog has been welcomed into your home, you and your family have effectively become their new pack.
The main reasons that your dog is trying to lick you are to either get your attention, show you affection, or even just to greet you at the end of the day when you get home.
So you could argue that a dog licking you is still their version of doggy kisses, because more often than not they are trying to show their affection for you.
Why Do Dogs Lick Their Humans?
So we now know that dogs lick their humans for a variety of reasons.
If you’ve noticed your dog likes to give you a lick when they’re sitting on your lap or sitting near you, they are likely trying to tell you how much you mean to them.
Dogs will lick you to show their affection for you, and that they are submissive to you as a member of their pack.
Your dog could also be licking you because they want you to show them attention. Often when your dog licks you, it is a natural reaction to interact with them.
Considering we mostly consider this licking to be dog kisses, we naturally think they are showing us affection, and we will return our affection for them in kind.
So your dog has also likely learned that licking you is a way to get you to pay them even more attention and treat them like the very good boy that they are.
Another reason your dog could be licking you is because they are asking for food, or trying to source food.
If you’ve been eating food and have remnants of this on your hands or face, then your dog could be trying to get their share of the food, too.
Is It Good If A Dog Licks You?
Yes, it is always a good sign if your dog licks you. The majority of dogs will lick you to show their affection for you, so this is likely your dog telling you that they love you.
Dogs are loyal animals and naturally affectionate, so you should always take it as a good sign if your dog is licking you.
In fact, licking is a fairly natural reaction for dogs by way of showing you affection.
You may notice that your dog tries to lick your face if they’re able to get to it, but if not, they will lick any patch of skin that they can get their tongue on.
What Does It Mean If A Dog Licks Your Face?
Dogs will try to lick your face if they can easily get access to it. This is because they have likely learned this display of affection from their mother when she used to groom them as a puppy.
This is seen as a normal social behavior for your dog, and is simply their way of showing you affection.
Another reason as to why your dog may be licking your face is because they are being submissive to you as their pack leader.
Dogs will often acknowledge the hierarchy of their pack by licking the face of the alpha, who doesn’t return the licking. Dogs may often show submissive behavior through face licks.
Should I Let My Dog Lick My Face?
So now that we know your dog is just trying to show their affection for you, you may be wondering whether you should let them lick your face.
While it may be tempting to let your dog lick at your mouth, eyes, or nose, it’s probably best to not let them do this.
This is because there are certain bacteria that are native to your dog’s mouth that could actually harm us humans if they penetrate the delicate mucous membranes of our noses, eyes, and mouths.
When your dog’s saliva touches healthy human skin, this likely isn’t going to pose a problem, as the bacteria can’t be absorbed into your system.
However, if your dog were to lick you on the mouth, this could give the bacteria a chance to infect you and make you very poorly.
So even though it is adorable that your dog wants to show their affection for you, it’s best to not let them lick your face.
Do Dogs Understand When You Kiss Them?
Obviously, dogs don’t talk the same language as us. However, they can learn how to read your body language.
When you shout at them they may cower to appear submissive to you, even if they don’t know what they’ve done wrong.
If you kiss your dog and talk to them in a gentle tone, they will associate this with affection, and likely respond in a similar manner.
So there you have it! While some dog behavior can vary differently from us humans, licking can generally be seen as a sign of affection.
Dogs have learned this behavior from when they were puppies, and they were groomed by their mothers.
So if a dog attempts to lick you, they are most likely just telling you how much they love you and appreciate you. If they are able to, they will most likely try to lick your face.
Your dog could also be licking you because they want you to show them attention.
And if you know they love you as a member of their pack, why wouldn’t you want to return their affections by giving them lots of attention?