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!

13 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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  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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  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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  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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  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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