What Does It Mean When a Dog Licks Your Hand?

Is your canine’s hand licking a sign of love or something more? Find out What It Means When a Dog Licks Your Hand below!

Have you ever wondered, “What Does It Mean When a Dog Licks Your Hand?” This common behavior among canines is more than just a simple gesture. Let’s find out what your doggie might be trying to tell you by licking your hands.

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What Does It Mean When a Dog Licks Your Hand?

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When a hound licks your hand, it’s a form of non-verbal communication. Let’s explore the meanings behind this behavior in detail:

Affection and Bonding

Dogs lick to express affection and strengthen the emotional connection between you and them. This gentle act of love is their way of saying, “I love you,” to their human companion.

Communication of Needs

Licking is also done by canines to communicate their needs and desires, like attention,  food, or walking. This form of communication helps bridge the gap between human and their four-legged friends.

Stress Relief

Just as humans engage in self-soothing activities when stressed, dogs may lick to alleviate anxiety or stress. If your hound is in a stressful or anxious situation, licking can provide comfort and security.

Grooming Instinct

Dogs have inherited grooming instincts from their wild ancestors. Licking is a natural behavior used by mother dogs to clean their puppies. When the dog licks your hand, they may extend this maternal instinct, viewing you as part of their pack and wanting to care for you.

Submission and Respect

In a pack, dogs may lick the hands of more dominant members as a sign of submission and respect. It’s their way of acknowledging your authority and maintaining harmony within the pack.

Taste and Curiosity

Dogs possess a highly developed sense of taste and smell. Sometimes, canines lick because they smell food, lotion, or perfume on your hands.

Do Dog Licks Mean Kisses?

shutterstock/Zivica Kerkez

Licking is a natural behavior for dogs, starting from puppyhood, where mothers lick their puppies for grooming and bonding. Dog licks are not like human kisses but a means to communicate and show affection. When a canine licks your hand or face, it’s their way of showing love and trust.

Health Implications of Dog Licks

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shutterstock/Polly Sh


Dogs use their tongues for various purposes, including cleaning and exploring their environment. This means that their mouths can harbor bacteria. If your hound has oral health issues or you have open wounds or sensitive skin, be cautious to prevent potential infections.


Some people may develop allergies to dog saliva, leading to skin rashes or other allergic reactions. If you notice any adverse skin reactions after your dog licks your hand, consult a healthcare professional.

Zoonotic Diseases

While rare, some diseases can be transmitted from dogs to humans through saliva. These are known as zoonotic diseases. Maintaining your canine’s overall health and regular vet check-ups minimizes the risk of such transmissions.

How to Stop Your Dog From Excessive Licking?

shutterstock/Wirestock Creators

Follow the below tips to stop your hound from excessive leaking:

  • Identify the Cause: First, identify why your canine is licking excessively. It happens due to anxiety, boredom, skin problems, or a habit formed for attention.
  • Provide Distractions: Offer your dog alternative forms of engagement and stimulation, such as toys or interactive games, to divert their attention from licking.
  • Use Deterrents: Try bitter-tasting store-bought or homemade sprays to discourage licking specific areas or objects.
  • Training: Consider professional dog training if the licking behavior becomes persistent. A professional trainer can provide guidance and strategies to modify this behavior.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Reward your hound when it refrains from licking. Use treats or affection to reinforce good behavior.
  • Consult a Veterinarian: Even after using the above steps, if your dog is constantly licking, consult a vet.

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