Let’s face it, dogs can do a lot of weird stuff. Like following us into the bathroom, staring intently at us for no apparent reason, and sleeping on top of us in the night. But one question comes up over and over: why does my dog lick me so much?

Dog experts say there could be a number of reasons dogs lick so much

Sure, one reason dogs lick us so much is simple affection. It’s what dogs do. Short bursts of lots of licks usually mean love. That’s the most common reason for face licks. (More about love licks on this post.)

Heart symbol

But other reasons for a lot of licking can include:

  • obsessive or compulsive behavior
  • it could be stress or anxiety
  • because we taste good (sweaty and salty)
  • he’s grooming you
  • or he’s letting you know that he’s trying to avoid conflict.

OK, so why DOES my Morkie lick me so much if it's not love?

Compulsive licking

Licking a lot can be a sign that there’s something else going on with your dog. Something has caused a compulsion or even obsessive-compulsive behavior.

It’s not that likely that licking YOU ‘too much’ is caused by obsessive or compulsive behavior problems though. Dogs who lick compulsively tend to lick themselves, or some strange object like a pillow or even the wall.

Stress or anxiety licking

If he’s licking you, the couch or something else for more than a few of licks, it can mean he’s looking for stress relief. And licking can be soothing.

Maybe he hasn’t had enough exercise and is bored, or something else is causing him stress. What’s changed recently in his environment?

The yummy lick

Dogs love the taste of salt, so if we can seem like a tasty treat sometimes.

Maybe you’re just out of the shower and all of a sudden you feel that familiar little tongue on your legs. That’s a sign he’s trying to help you dry off, plus he may like the novel taste of soap. (Sometimes big dogs will actually steal soap and run off to eat it!)

Grooming licks

Like nearly all animals, dogs will groom one another as a sign of submission. Your Morkie might be showing you he’s no threat and that you’re the boss, or he might just like grooming you.

The OK now leave me alone kiss

Putting your face right up to your dog can seem aggressive to a dog; sometimes dogs will give you a quick lick or two because they know from experience, you’ll leave them alone then. It’s a passive, appeasing response.

Over-the-top dog kisses

 Want your Morkie to stop licking you so much?

Try to distract him as he approaches for kisses. His favorite toy or a little treat might do it. However, as Certified Professional Dog Trainer Nick Hof says, you DON’T want to inadvertently reinforce the licking behavior with a treat or chew. That could actually increase the licking.

One simple way to kick your dog’s licking habit is to simply to walk out of the room  when he starts. He’ll soon understand that licking too much means you’ll leave. And that’s the last thing he wants.

Two other kinds of licking: paws and the air

Paw licking

Dogs licking their feet a lot usually signals an allergy, to either food or the environment. Allergies to flea bites can also be the trigger, or a new diet. Vets say that dogs who lick or chew their paws a lot are probably dealing with allergies.

Try wiping down your Morkie’s paws with a damp cloth when you come in from outdoors to get as much pollen off as possible, and consider switching to a low-allergen food like lamb and rice.

If your Morkie is still licking his paws like mad, it’s time to talk to your Vet about allergies or some other cause.

Read more: why does my Morkie lick her paws?

Air licking

When a dog licks his own lips and looks away, or constantly flicks his tongue out, it usually means he’s stressed.

But he might lick at the air for other reasons. 

A little bit of licking can mean he’s hungry; a lot of air licking could mean gastrointestinal problemsIn fact, dog constantly licking the air could be suffering from nausea.

Or, your Morkie may lick the air or his own lips a lot to signal that he needs your assurance.

Now it’s up to you to find out the cause.


Wait, are dog kisses even SAFE?

The jury is out on this; some say they’re just fine and others are worried about dog kisses.

John Oxford, professor of virology and bacteriology at the Queen Mary University in London, warns that a dog COULD pass along bacteria, viruses, and germs of all sorts. Plus, ringworm can be passed to people from dogs fairly easily.

Common sense takes over: if your dog looks sickly or he hangs out by the garbage cans in an alley, then no, don’t do kisses on the mouth. And definitely discourage children from dog kisses since kids are more vulnerable to picking up something.

Read more about what worms you could catch from your dog: Symptoms of worms in dogs

Now there’s an app for that!

Called Dog Decoder, this app for iPhones and Androids is amazing. It can definitely help you figure out what your dog’s saying and is recommended by Vets and animal behaviorists.

The app was developed by Jill Breitner, who has spent almost 40 years studying canine body language. And bonus — it features the adorable illustrations of Lili Chin.