Unlike humans, dogs cannot easily say what they want, so they show it in their actions. Licking their owners is a type of communication that owners have to decipher. Most pet owners find themselves continuously asking, why does my dog lick my hands?
Dogs lick their human companions for many reasons. Dogs will lick their owners’ hands as a sign of affection or show that they care about them, and sometimes it’s just because they love the taste of salt on your skin!
Dogs will lick your hands if they know you as a friend and want to be close to you. But is it just about affections? Is there any hidden meaning to this unique behavior in your dogs?
In this blog post, we will discuss why does my dog lick my hands in-depth. We’ll answer the question, why do dogs lick our hands with ten popular reasons why! Find out if it’s normal for dogs to lick people’s hands or not and get tips on how to stop your dog from licking your hand!
Reasons Why Dogs Lick Your Hands
Dog licking can be a complex behavior that dog owners find hard to understand. Could it be that they want something? Are they feeding bad? Or are they just being affectionate? Here are some of the main reasons why does my dog lick my hands:
1. Dogs Want to Get Your Attention
Dogs may lick your hands to get attention, especially if they are not getting the attention they need from their human. Dogs will also lick your hand as a way of showing affection and love towards you when it is a dog that knows its owner very well!
Often dogs will excitedly greet you when you come home from work and start licking your hands.
2. It is a Sign of Affection
Dogs lick their owners for many reasons. They might like the taste of your skin, or they might find it soothing by having one of their spots scratched, but most likely, it is because they love you!
It is one of the best ways for your dog to show their affection for you. Some say that licking the owner’s hand is also a sign of submission. Your dog views you as the head of the pack, and it wants to show you respect.
3. Your Dog is Trying to Groom You
When your dog licks your hand, it means that it is grooming you. If your dog is licking its paws, it might be trying to groom you.
Some dogs lick hands as a way of cleaning the owner’s hand. It may sound gross, but they do this because they can smell all that bacteria on those icky fingers! They want to keep their humans clean and healthy, so they use their tongues to get rid of all that dirt.
4. It’s Just Because They Like The Taste Of Salt On Your Skin
Some dogs just love the taste of your skin! They might lick you if they know that you will reward them. If they see some more food left on your hand, then it is definitely why they are licking your hands and not because of any other reason. It’s all about getting those last few morsels before dinner time!
Also, one reason dogs lick hands is that they enjoy the taste of your skin. It could be from cooking and simply alighting oils, or it could be an odor on your skin that smells nice to them. Dogs generally like the way we smell, so there are likely many reasons why they lick our hands.
5. It is Instinctive Pack Behavior
Some of the reasons a dog would lick your hand are because they see you as part of their pack. Dogs instinctively want to be seen as being included in the family, which is why they might lick hands.
Typically, all packs have an “alpha” who is in charge of all the other wolves. To show their submission to the alpha, the other members of the pack lick them.
And being our dogs’ caregivers and protectors, it makes sense that they would view us as their alpha and try to demonstrate their obedience and submission to us by licking our hands.
6. They Want Something from You
Dogs have various ways to communicate with their owners. It will be up to you to understand what they are trying to say. For instance, one reason my dog lick my hands is that they want something from you.
May you haven’t walked them out or played with them yet? Your dog will lick your hand and try to communicate with you their wants and needs.
7. It is Natural For Dogs
Dog use their sense of touch, smell, and taste to explore things or to communicate. They start doing this while they are puppies, and they grow with the same behavior of sniffing and licking.
Licking your hands will inform your dog about the place you go, the people you are with, the work you did, and the food you eat. When you come home, they will excitedly lick your hands to know everything in your absence.
More so, the best way to introduce yourself to dogs when they are puppies, is to let them smell and lick your hands!
8. Your Dog Is Trying to Comfort You
Some dogs simply lick their owners because they are trying to comfort them. If you seem sad or hurt, your dog might want to help you feel better by licking your hand.
If a person is depressed and doesn’t have many people in his life, the dog will try its best to act as that one friend who wants nothing but for the owner to feel better.
9. It’s All About the Tongue
There are many reasons why your dog might lick you, but it mostly comes down to their tongue! A dog uses its tongue for many things- from grooming itself and other dogs and sniffing things out.
Dogs’ tongues have over 100 million taste buds, and it is their primary tool for learning and exploring their surroundings.
10. You Encouraged The Behavior
If you do anything that encourages your dog to lick your hands, they might take it as a cue. They will realize that if they want something from you now and again, licking is the way to get what they want!
For example, maybe when he sees someone coming over with for some time, your dog might be licking your hand as part of his exploration process. If you get them some food or toys for him out of nowhere, it might lead him to lick their owner’s hands because they think that it will also happen with them.
Is it a Normal Behavior for Dogs to Lick Hands?
Dogs are naturally curious, and when they come across something new, or if you have been gone for an extended amount of time, they might lick your hands to find out more about it.
The licking is a way for them to know the state you are in and why there’s an unfamiliar smell on you, such as cooking or grass. In other words, dogs will typically lick their owner’s hand when they come home because he smells different than usual.
Should You Encourage Your Dog to Lick Your Hands?
If you don’t mind getting slobber on your hands, then it is totally fine to encourage your dog to have a lick. It would be best not to punish your pet for such behavior since it is natural to explore through their senses. It is also one of their ways to communicate and show affection to their owners.
On the other hand, if the licking becomes excessive, you might need to have your dog checked for underlying health problems. Also, not all dog owners are comfortable getting all slobbered up from their pet’s licking.
Can You Get Sick When Your Dog Licks Your Hand?
It’s possible to get sick from a dog licking your hand. Of course, there are some instances where you might have an open cut or sore, and the bacteria in their mouth could cause infection, but that is true for any animal, including humans!
Understandably, dog saliva may make you feel icky, especially if the thought of it usually heals their wounds, but it turns out that this is false.
Licking is a normal habit for canines to self-groom and cleanses themselves of dirt, but dogs also lick other things like feces which harbors many disgusting germs.
These germs may cause any notable illness for some, but those with a compromised immune system might be vulnerable to sickness. Thus, people with weak immunity should avoid getting slobbered up by their pets.
Also, always wash after your dog licks your hands to prevent any illness or infection.
Tips on How to Stop Dogs from Licking Hands
Here are some ideas on how to stop your dog from licking your hands.
Avoid Encouraging the Behavior
Show disapproval with your facial expression or voice tone every time he licks your hand so that he understands why this is upsetting to you.
Please don’t give them rewards or fight the urge to pet, stroke or scratch them when they start to lick your hands.
Give Attention to Your Dog
If you want your dog to stop licking your hand, then the best thing you can do is give them attention.
Instead of punishing the behavior or ignoring it, why not try rewarding a different action?
For example, when he isn’t licking your hands and just calmly sits next to you instead, give them pets or belly rubs.
Give them Distractions
Before your dog can start licking your hands, introduce toys or chew bones. They will get distracted and forget about their habit of licking your hands.
Train Your Dog To Stop Licking Your Hands
Your dog should learn not to lick your hands, and it is possible by using positive reinforcement.
Every time your dog starts licking your hands, hide it, stand up, or leave the room if needed.
After a few minutes, go back and give them attention. If they start licking, turn away again.
Be consistent in doing this until your dog learns that licking your hands means losing your attention.
The reasons why dogs lick are varied. One of the most common is to show affection, but it can also be a way to establish dominance or even just an anxiety-driven action. If your dog licks you often and in social situations only (e.g., when meeting new friends), then this may not be problematic behavior at all!
However, suppose they lick you every time they see you, no matter what’s happening around you. In that case, we recommend consulting with a professional trainer who specializes in animal behavioral issues to address the problem as soon as possible.
We hope you enjoyed this article about why do dogs lick people’s hands and found it helpful.
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