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There isn’t much in this world that tops a kiss from your best friend. Most people attribute licking as a way to show affection; dogs love licking. They lick themselves, lick you, lick other dogs, so is that all about affection, or could there be other reasons for licking? Here are some reasons your dog enjoys licking you.

Taste. You taste good! A big motivation for dogs is taste, and guess what – humans taste good to dogs! We are saltier than canines, which most dogs enjoy. If you’ve just come home from the gym or working in the yard, your dog may do some extended licking because you’re even saltier. Enjoy it!

Shared Grooming. Canine packs often practice shared grooming among pack members at the end of a day (or hunt). Shared grooming is not only a way to clean each other up and clean wounds, but it also helps the pack members bond and feel safe.

Asking for attention. Your dog may have learned from your past responses that licking is a great way to get your attention. Maybe he is lonely, wants a walk, or a treat, but many dogs have learned that they get your love and affection if they kiss you.

Showing respect. In canine packs, when one animal licks the face of another, it’s a sign of respect and whoever is being licked is higher in the pecking order. Maybe Fido is showing you how much he respects you.

Cleaning ouchies. Dogs’ saliva contains enzymes that help heal their wounds (and possibly yours). If you have a cut or scrape, your dog may repeatedly try to get it cleaned up for you. Your pup just wants to take care of you.

It’s a comforting behavior. When your pooch was a pup, his mama gave him a lot of licking affection and kept her puppies clean this way. This loving behavior makes the puppies feel safe, comforted, and loved, which is how your dog wants you to feel.

Licking isn’t always positive. Sometimes licking can be a way to express anxiety or their need for a bit of space. If your dog licks you and then turns away, it may mean he is feeling uneasy about something.

If your dog seems to be frequently licking and for long periods of time, the behavior may have gotten a bit obsessive. If this happens, try and direct his behavior to something else – a quick training period with treats or a short game of tug of war.

Dogs lick their humans for various reasons; next time your buddy is licking you, look and listen so you can hear what your dog is trying to tell you.