Why Does My Dog Lick My Legs?

dog giving girl a kiss
Dogs just love to lick!
I'm sure many of you have felt that odd love from your dog, when she uses her tongue as a washcloth. Dogs seem to love to lick our faces, arms, hands, legs, and even cuts. They can be so persistent and intent on slobbering over every part of our leg or arm, it can seem as if they think we taste like pumpkin pie, or perhaps we are so filthy that we need their help washing! So why do they do this?

We took a look around for some answers, and here’s what we found.

Of course, many peoples first thought goes to this: the dog licks you because it loves you. That makes some sense, but some dogs seem to be lick obsessed and will lick anyone. When dogs meet new people and other dogs, the brief licking on the face and mouth is most likely for showing friendliness. The dog is trying to tell the new person that she has no aggressive feelings or fear towards them, and they use licking the face as that form of communication.

Another reason for any licking of the face and mouth comes from instinct. Wolves in the wild have pack leaders that go out and do the majority of the hunting. When the leaders come back, the other wolves will lick the mouth to try to encourage the leader to share the food, or even regurgitate it. Lovely way to show you care, right? So, many dogs do seem to lick people near the mouth, and may be trying to see if there's any leftovers for them. OK, so this isn't exactly pleasant, but it is likely.

Now for the more interesting question. Why do some dogs lick arms and legs like its the only thing they ever wanted in life. Some dogs will just plop down and clean every inch of your foot or leg if you let them. Why?

Well, here's the thing: licking can be pleasurable for dogs. Like a mother cuddling her baby, when a dog licks for affection, endorphins are released, and it makes the dog feel good. Dogs use licking as a gesture showing that they are submissive to the person, like their perceived pack leader. When your dog licks you, they are showing love and respect. They want you to know that they feel you are in charge, and they're okay with that.

As for licking cuts on humans, dogs have a natural instinct to try to heal sores by licking them. Its what they do in the wild and they think that they can help us by cleaning our wounds, too. Dogs may not have any healing properties in their mouths, but at least the thought is nice. They want to make us feel better in the way they would when they lick their own wounds.

One more reason a dog might decide to “taste” you real quick: dogs also could be trying to read your mood that day. When humans sweat, they send out little bits of information in the smell, from the eccrine and sebaceous glands. Dogs have heightened senses, in their noses and taste buds, so many of their communication skills come from sniffing and licking things. Your dog may simply be trying to determine your mood or what happened while you were out! Even though it is a bit yucky, dogs can pick up information from your taste and scent, after you've been out for a long day. So they are just trying to “taste” your mood.

Whatever the reason, licking from your dog is usually not a bad gesture. A dog won't lick you if it is being aggressive, that’s not the point for them. A dog licks for nice reasons, although you may not enjoy being slobbered on all the time!

64 comments:

  1. I am probable crazy in some peoples thinking, but I am a dog lover and I find it pleasant to have my dog lick my legs. My two most favorite dogs have both done this.
    Signed: Crazy

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    1. Mine lick my feet and I find it relaxing so no not crazy

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    2. I agree with both, my rottie will hold my leg and go to town..lol and I will fall asleep.

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    3. I have a dachund named pocket and he licks the bottom of my feet and it makes me so sleep and i do find it relaxing i love my dog!

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    4. My schnauzer licks my legs and feet especially at bedtime when I have had a long day and I find it relaxing.

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    5. I don't doubt that you are all wonderful folks but I can't wrap my head around this!

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    6. Well mine does to! Nice to know I'm not alone

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    7. My 11 Month puppies love licking my feet,legs and arms. I love it <3

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    8. I agree!, Anonymous poster on Nov 28, 2014

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    9. This makes so much sense now! I have a mild case of psoriasis on the backs ofor my legs and my dog lick them every single night at bedtime! It feels good to me because it itches like crazy and she scratches it as she licks.

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    10. This makes so much sense now! I have a mild case of psoriasis on the backs ofor my legs and my dog lick them every single night at bedtime! It feels good to me because it itches like crazy and she scratches it as she licks.

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  2. It is relaxing after a long day on your feet. It is as if they know your feet are sore.

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    1. I agree. I have arthritis in my feet and my dog goes right to the sorest spot. It feels so much better. You can't bottle that kind of medicine.

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  3. Thank you so much for this collection of information. I sometimes wonder if my dog detects an illness when he licks my ankles and once in a while my legs. No need to worry anymore! He is a clean freak when it come to cleaning everyone's feet. Especially after walking barefoot in the kitchen.��Ha!

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    1. I thought maybe I was sick and my dog smells it? Good to know this info....

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    2. I thought maybe I was sick and my dog smells it? Good to know this info....

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  4. My dog only licks my legs during the changes of the season.

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  5. My sister dog licks my leg as its very sore and he knows its sore and licks my knee as he knows its very very sore.

    Whats does it mean wen dogs licks your legs?

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    1. How odd that you would be in the comments section of an article you haven't read...

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    2. How odd that you would be in the comments section of an article you haven't read...

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  6. My dog licks my legs daily - I find it very relaxing and know it comes from love.

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  7. Same. My parents hate it though they think its gross. Good to know it means the dogs are affectionate and caring.

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  9. My staffy does it all the time, its nice he sees me with affection as I'm not his first owner but I will be his last.

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  10. My Chihuahua licks me all the time. I know I'm her human and she loves me. She watches every move I make and follows me everywhere. It's nice to know:)

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  11. Does this go for the quick nudge of the nose against the leg as well? My sisters dog does it to me all the time when I am walking by or close to him. It's summer so I always have bare legs and it's gross when I feel him do it. I'm also not a dog lover so this is a constant annoyance to me. He does it even if I have not been outside so I doubt he's trying to sniff out where I've been. Honestly I'd like him to stop, I've never seen him to it to my sister.

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    1. my dog follows me around the house and she would do a quick touches of her wet nose behind my leg as i'm walking and she'll do this over and over, and sometimes with quick licks. Sometimes i don't even notice it because i'll be too distracted on something else but when i notice it and she just won't stop doing it unless i tell her to. It could be very annoying at times and i would yell at her. I feel bad now because it does make a lot of sense why she does what she does. She is greeting me, tasting my mood, giving me affection, after all i do spoil her as she is my baby.
      I think your sister dog senses you don't like him and he is still trying to make peace with you. He doesn't do it to your sister because maybe he feels he doesn't need to, it's you he needs to work the magic on ;-) . And, it's true dogs don't lick someone who they are afraid of, so this means you are a nice person and you are nice to him despite the fact which is good. Give the little fella a pet on the head here and there, he just wants to be friends :-)

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    2. My dog keeps licking my legs and arms and kind of creaps me out

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  12. That dog is telling you to keep your distance from his owner, your sister. He's protective of her and watching you very close - all the time. This dog is not showing affection to you.

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  13. I find it so soothing when my golden lab licks my hands and arms! It's the best after coming home from a long shift from work!

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  14. My dog mimi a pomaranian chihuahua always trys to lick my feet when she gets a chance, and I think its kind of sweet and ticklish!

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  15. My Boston Terrier will lick my feet and ankles at night when we are getting ready for bed. It's like our little bedtime routine. Afterwards he snuggles next to me and snores. I look forward to it every day. I love my doggie!

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  16. My jackrussel. Love to clean me everyday he's got a bad fetish. But he doesn't like it when I give him a bath

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  17. Do they lick balls too?

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    1. LOL! That comment my be inappropriate but it made me laugh.

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    2. Lololol...yes that was funny!

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    3. Lololol...yes that was funny!

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  18. My mini fox terrier holds my legs down and licks them for at least half an hour on each leg, my mum thinks its disgusting and she refuses to let the dog lick her but I find it relaxing. The dog isn't really even mine, shes the family's dog but I'm the only one who lets her do it so she's quite attached to me

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  19. my dog bulldog/pitbull licks my legs all the time I find it to be very comfy and relaxing but my mom finds it to be very very gross but yeah I'm just glad I'm not the only one out there that has this in common

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  20. my pom/corgi does this too. when my bf comes home from work he licks his arm. when its bedtime he licks my legs. i wont lie i find it soothing. helps me sleep better. he only does it to us.

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  21. My dog licks his arse.. and then licks me. Filthy beast.

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  22. My yellow lab licks my legs and feet and any "boo boos" I may have and I think it's awesome! He's taking care of me! ❤️

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  23. My aunt's ankles are really swollen. When my cousin comes home, she literally has to DRAG her dog away from my aunt because the dog will sit there all day licking her ankles. And she is the only one the dog does that to. At first, I didn't know what to think. Glad to know it isn't something totally bad....

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  24. My morkie is almost 4 and just started to lick legs and feet (not just mine, but anyone in our home whose legs and feet are exposed). He's always been friendly and I'm sure he is showing us some kind of positive feeling by doing this, but I'm more curious about why it just started after having him for almost four years!

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  25. I love this article my wife and I absolutely could not stop laughing wonderful article and yes we have a 10 year old dachshund his name is Dudley and he does exactly that licks our legs and arms and feet and that's exactly although all me the husband yucky

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  26. My dog momma c luv to lick my whole entire back I wonder if she can sense that I hav back problems nd tries to help sooth it. It feel great, some Times I fall asleep.

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    1. I think they do sense it. Mine licks my arthritic feet right in the worst spots. They "know".

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  27. I love my prissy. She had brought me through a rough patch, but I don't care for the licking thing. She will paw at my hand which means, she wants to rub her to death or lick my hand and arm as though it's her last meal. As I walk through the house she'll be licking the back of my legs. This isn't too bad because it's not a constant licking. Also, she's a very loveable and cuddly puppy and often wants me to pick her up so she can see things from my view. Besides the licking and her stubbornness-she's a joy

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  28. Had a bit of a comment I accidently dumped... So all my dogs know I hate anything touching my feet so they ll aim for my knees and back of my hands. But one dog in specific(my baby) can't chill out if I lay down. She has to lick my face, which I don't let her, so she goes for my arms and hands as hostage until their clean but this only works for maybe 5 minutes and she's done. Face attacks again. She will NOT calm down unless she's in trouble or tucked under my bed blankets with me. We just went through this this morning actually, she's such a lap dog.

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  29. I agree. I do enjoy my dog licking my legs- although my dogs are little Cavalier King Charles, and their tongues are small. I must add, though, that I do believe they may have healing properties, because when my legs are chapped, or there is a sore, and they lick it, it does heal in a day or so.

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  30. my dog loves to lick my balls, especially after i've covered them with nutella, and ive got to say i love it!

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    1. Careful with that, the cocoa in Nutella is bad for dogs

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    2. You are sick n shouldnt have the priveledge of owning a dog

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  31. my dog, Sandy, dachshund mix, looks like a terrier but with long body, she licks me from top to bottom. I try not to let her lick my arms, face, neck because I don't want to smell like doggie breath to my boyfriend LOL, but a quick touch is ok and she does that too, but a full on tongue is a no no and she knows it too what i like and don't like about that. I appreciate her quick lick and quick nose touch back of my leg, I give her love and in return she gives me love too :-)

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  32. Every night my dog will literally pull and tug till she gets all the covers out of the way. Then she will lick, my feet, ankles and legs for 20-30 minutes every single night. I never understood why but I guess this makes sense now. I had always heard that dogs can smell or sense cancer in someone, so up until now I was afraid she sensed something like that with me. Thanks for the info. My dog is a Puginese if it matters.

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  33. yes, they do it, one will run over every time i sit down to lick my feet, legs up to the knees. If the others try to do it to, he growls. If someone beat him to it, he will just lay near them, kiss them try to join. It looks like a show of respect, submission...my others look at them like they're crazy, why are you licking her legs? :) If i leave my shoes in, he paws at my shoe and takes my shoe off.

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  34. My pup always gos for my knee caps

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  35. My pup always gos for my knee caps

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  36. I love this I'm a dog lover and that explains a lot about my baby she's going on 7 and she's so sweet she's a pitbull I've learn so much about her❤️

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  37. I love this I'm a dog lover and that explains a lot about my baby she's going on 7 and she's so sweet she's a pitbull I've learn so much about her❤️

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  38. It's not my dog, not a huge fan of animals. I HATE when he walks up to me and randomly licks me once on the leg or arm or anywhere for that matter..

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  39. Some of these comments are pretty disturbing. Letting your dog lick your feet for half an hour or more. I can understand a little lick or two, but to let it go on longer than that... very creepy.

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