What Does Constant Licking of a Person Mean to a Dog?

by Naomi Millburn
"I love you! Where have you been all day?"

"I love you! Where have you been all day?"

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Your dog's licking can be cozy and cute, sure. If he does it all of the time, however, it may have you wondering what it all means. He may be giving you a canine kiss, but he also may be saying something about himself -- and his relationship with you.

"I'm Happy to See You"

If your pooch seems to get up to lick you every time you plop down onto your easy chair, it might be his messy yet lovable way of greeting you. Beyond being a simple courteous salutation, his licking also can serve as a way of connecting to you and enhancing your relationship as dog and owner.

"I'm Not the Boss"

Your dog's constant licking can signify something a little more complex than just tender loving care. Dogs frequently lick the faces of those that they consider to be superior to them in regard to social ranking. If your dog always licks your face, he could be making sure that you know he is fully aware of his lower positioning on the ladder. Face licking is a canine peacemaking technique, and is common not only in interactions between humans and dogs, but also in those between dogs exclusively.

"I Actually Am the Boss"

Confusingly enough, a dog might lick a human as a way of conveying the polar opposite of subordination -- and that is dominance. This dominant licking behavior is prevalent especially in males. It can mean "I am the boss, and you are below me. I'm fully in control." Context can be useful in noting the crucial differences between submissive and dominant licking behaviors. If your dog shows you respect, his licking probably is submissive. If your dog has a tendency to disregard your commands, walk in front of you and behave persistently, consider the concept of dominance. Since dominance can lead to aggressive behaviors, it is important never to brush it off. Be particularly cautious when dogs lick kids in possibly dominant manners. Do not allow dominant dogs to be near children. Eliminating dominance is often a job for professional pet behaviorists, so have a conversation with your veterinarian.

"I Need Something"

Constant licking can be a sign that your pooch needs or wants something from you. Your pet might be reminding you that it's time for your nightly stroll together around the park. He also might be trying to get you to go to the kitchen and get out his favorite new treats.

"This Just Feels Good"

Seemingly nonstop licking behaviors can denote relaxation in canines -- similarly to nervous habits in humans. By licking you, your dog might be letting go of any tension and frustration that he is experiencing.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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