What Does It Mean When A Dog Licks Your Hands Constantly?

What Does It Mean When A Dog Licks Your Hands Constantly?

If you have a pet dog at your home, I am pretty sure you have experienced them licking your hands. Licking is a typical and natural behavior indicated by dogs, and it is not necessarily wrong.

Dogs mostly lick the hands of their masters to show their love and affection for them. However, dogs can sometimes be very obsessive with this behavior and lick your hands constantly.

Therefore dog owners often question if that is a common gesture or if there is something wrong with it. If you are someone who faces this issue, this is the article for you. 

So, What does it mean when a dog licks your hands constantly? Dogs have a natural instinct to lick their owners. The common reasons for a dog to lick your hands are to show love, empathy, submission, and loyalty. However, constant licking could be something different from the usual reasons. If the licking is more frequent than expected, it could be due to a medical condition such as anxiety, stress, OCD, or other physical illness.

Remember that excessive licking doesn’t always cause health problems; still, there are possibilities. Pay good attention to your dog’s usual behavior, along with the constant licking. That way, you can figure out whether it occurred by a critical concern or not.

Body language and gestures are the way that dogs communicate with humans. As a dog parent, you must be attentive to your dog’s day-to-day behavior because it tells a lot about your dog.

You might know that raising a dog is a responsible duty, and as a responsible dog parent, you should take the necessary actions to ensure that your pet is happy and healthy.

Through this article, you can find answers to the constant licking behavior of a dog. Read through to find out. 

Why do dogs like to lick your hands?

First, let’s understand the logic behind this. You may have heard that dogs lick humans to show their love for them, which is correct.

Out of several reasons, the most common cause is indicating love and affection for their owners. According to animal experts, since their evolutionary history, licking has been a natural behavior that dogs get through their genes.

Although dogs are now domesticated and considered social animals, they have pack behavior embedded in their genes.

Adult pack animals hunt their prey, and the young and weak pack members lick the mouths of returning pack leaders. Dogs do not indicate intense pack behavior. However, they naturally have it within them.

Therefore they lick their owners’ hands as a sign of submission, believing they are the pack leaders. Apart from this instinct, communication is the key reason a dog licks your hands. 

Dogs can’t express their happiness through words, so they present it through gestures, and licking your hands is one such common sign.

However, what they try to communicate through licking could be different. Usually, a dog licks you to show their love and enthusiasm and grab your attention.

If you come home after a long day, your pet dog will be the happiest to see you. Dogs have a strong emotional bond with humans. Licking hands is a friendly gesture indicated by dogs to convince you that they miss and love you.

On the other hand, Dogs can be attention seekers. They love and care for their owners and expect them to reciprocate it. If your dog keeps licking you when they see you in a while, do not ignore it; respond positively to reassure them that you also care for them.

They will likely keep licking your hands when they feel they don’t get enough attention. Suppose you notice more intense licking than usual this is where you should act cautiously because excessive licking could be a consequence of a medical concern. 

What does it mean when a dog licks your hand constantly?

Now you may have a fair understanding of why dogs usually lick your hands. However, sometimes you may notice that they constantly lick your hands.

Frequent licking could be the result of a couple of reasons. As a dog parent, it is always better to be aware of all possibilities. 

I don’t have to stretch on the fact that dogs generally have a strong bond with humans, but how they bond and express their affection could vary from one dog to the other.

Sometimes dogs can get obsessive about their owners, making them frequently lick their hands as a gesture of love. Another possible reason behind constant licking is the taste of your hands.

Dogs have potent senses; they fastly get attracted to the smell of our hands, and they prefer to lick our hands due to the salty taste they get from our sweat. 

Some dogs tend to lick your hands quite often compared to other dogs, and this could be a normal behavior they indicate. Still, if you feel the licking behavior is more intense and frequent than usual, the reason could be complex.

Dogs constantly lick our hands when they undergo health concerns, especially mental conditions such as anxiety, stress, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Repetitive licking is not only limited to mental concerns; it might be an indicator of some other serious physical illness. The discomfort they get through the medical condition makes them lick you more than usual.

Therefore do not take it lightly if you notice that your dog licks your hand constantly, be attentive and get professional advice without delay.

When do dogs tend to lick your hands?

A dog tends to lick your hands in varying scenarios. Dogs love to spend time with their owners and receive love from them.

So it is normal for them to lick your hands once you return home after a while as a sign of affection and submission.

If your dog needs your attention, it is another usual scenario where they lick your hands. Sometimes dogs may lick strangers’ hands if they feel they are trustworthy.

Therefore in most cases, dogs use this natural behavior trait when they want to express love, gratitude, and loyalty.

Should you let your dog lick your hand?

Suppose your dog keeps licking your hands; is that behavior you should encourage? As mentioned earlier, dogs always expect us to reciprocate our feelings towards them.

The more we show them love, the more they build a strong bond with us. Also, it is one of the best ways a dog can communicate with you.

You do not have to encourage them to lick your hands deliberately, but responding in a polite and friendly manner when they lick your hands is essential.

Maybe you are not a fan of drools, but do not reject your dog or punish them if they lick your hands.

They do it because they love you, care for you, and consider you their pack leader. So it is vital to grab this behavior positively, which will make them feel loved by you as well. 

How to stop a dog from licking your hands?

First and foremost, you should understand that not all dogs have the same licking behavior. Some dogs may lick your hands more often, while others do not.

As discussed throughout this article, dogs get this behavior from birth. Therefore you will never be able to stop them from doing it completely. However, if you feel disturbed by their licking behavior, there are actions that you can take to diminish it. 

Training is the most crucial mechanism for reducing this habit in dogs. You can train your dog for alternatives rather than licking your hands to express emotions.

For instance, a dog could lick your hands if they are bored. So you can give them chewy toys which could distract them from boredom.

Speaking of training, do not try to force them to do things. Licking is a natural habit demonstrated by dogs, but sometimes dog owners encourage them to do it by giving treats, thinking it might make a better bond between the dog and themselves.

When a dog gets used to it, most likely, make them lick your hands frequently as they believe it is a way of getting treats. So be mindful of the training process, and proper training will help reduce this habit.

Also, ensure that you provide them with enough attention. Grab your dog for a walk, play with them, and give them a few cuddles; this can help dogs be less clingy. 

Final thoughts 

Licking behavior is a natural habit in dogs. Therefore it is not bizarre to see a dog licking your hands. It is one of the dogs’ primary gestures to show their emotions to humans.

Usually, it is a way of expressing love, seeking attention, and showing submission. But the question is if a dog indicates constant licking is it just because they love you, or are there any other underlying reasons? The answer to this question depends.

Even though licking human hands is typical behavior among dogs, not all dogs do it the same way. Some dogs do it more often compared to others.

Moreover, if you encourage them to do it, they will certainly do it more. Sometimes dogs lick your hands repeatedly because they are going through a medical concern; this is where you should be cautious.

No one knows your dog better than you. So you may have a good understanding of when and how often your dog licks your hand. If you feel like they lick you more frequently than usual, it is better to take advice from a vet.

Hope you found this article helpful. Stay tuned with Jack Russell Owner for more interesting posts about our four-legged furry friends.


  • Sofia Williams

    Sofia W. is a professional dog trainer who completed Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA and CPDT-KSA) certifications. Also, she has completed the Pet Nutrition Coach Certification. Sofia is interested in creating nutritious food formulas for dogs to give them a longer and healthier life. She believes food and training are a collective combination of a healthy dog. So, she is with us to share her expertise and knowledge with other dog parents.

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