Why Do Dogs Lick Your Legs?

why do dogs lick your legs
why do dogs lick your legs

Have you ever wondered why dogs lick your legs?

It’s a common occurrence, but many dog owners don’t know the reason behind it. We have all experienced this strange behavior at some point in our lives, and now we finally understand why they do it.

Dogs are very social creatures that love to be around their pack members. They express their affection for us by licking our skin because they want to bond with us on an intimate level.

Keep reading to learn:

  • reasons why your dog licks your leg
  • tips on how to get your dog to stop licking

Why Do Dogs Lick Your Legs? 

Dogs are often known to lick their owners, but why do they do this? There are a few reasons that dogs may lick your legs. One of the most common is that its simple enjoyment for them. Dogs also use licking as a form of communication and affection. They lick to show empathy, for grooming and taste, out of boredom, to show respect, and to get your attention.

7 Reasons Why Dogs Lick Your Legs

Licking? Well, it’s just a dog thing. 

That is what many loving dog parents say when asked the question: Why do dogs lick? And, of course, they’re right. Licking is indeed a dog thing, but do you know why your pet likes it so much. 

Here are seven reasons why dogs lick your legs:

1. Affection

It is easy for dog owners to show love and affection for their dogs. A snuggle session, a treat, or a gentle belly rub says “I love you” to our pets.

But what about dogs, how do they communicate love and affection? 

Dogs, like other pets, express their feelings by body language and actions. One such action is licking.

Licking in dog’s world is like what kissing is in ours. When your dog licks you, it is saying ‘I love you sooo much!’ 

2. Taste

reasons why dogs lick your legs

Dogs are inquisitive about everything. If something smells nice to them, they like to lick it. 

Ever wondered why your dog likes to lick your legs after you spread lotion? Or after a run? 

Apparently, your pet loves how your skin tastes after you sweat, they love the salty taste. 

3. Empathy

Pet owners often say that their dogs can sense their emotions and respond pretty much the same way a human friend would.

That’s why they are so adept at offering comfort when their owners are a little down and joining in their joy when they are happy.

Have you ever felt like this, too?      

Research shows your dog can really read your emotional state. What’s more, it offers canine empathy when they feel you are unhappy and sad. 

One of the ways dogs show empathy is, you guessed it, by licking. That’s their way of saying ‘I feel your pain and want to comfort you.’

4. Grooming

We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: Licking is part of your dog’s life.

When you get the next opportunity, spend a few minutes observing a mother dog and her pups. You’ll notice she has an obsessive licking habit with them. 

She does so to clean the puppies and to encourage defecation and urination. In short, a mother dog licks her puppy to groom them. 

When your dog licks, it is just repeating what their mama taught them. It is grooming you, which is nothing else but another way of displaying affection. 

5. Respect

In a pack of dogs, the hierarchy is based on submission. A dog ranked lower in the hierarchy licks and bends its body to display submission to the leader of the group.

Even though you are not the leader of any pack, your dog considers you as one. And licking is its way of displaying it respects you and acknowledges that you have the authority.

6. Stress

Dogs are great stress relievers. It’s just not me saying it; science says the same thing as well.

Research shows just petting a dog reduces the stress hormone cortisol and consequently makes you feel better

But like us, dogs too can get stressed from time to time. 

Look for signs like:

  • excessive licking
  • drooling
  • yawning
  • pacing
  • shaking
  • shedding
  • panting
  • changes in body posture
  • changes in eyes and ears

If your pet dog displays one or more of these signs, cuddle it, shower it with some extra love, and take it for long, relaxing walks.

If your pet is consistently stressed, have a look at our Training Guides. Perhaps it’s time to visit your veterinarian or contact a professional dog trainer, if it gets more serious.

7. To catch your attention

Dogs, like children, seek attention constantly. Licking your leg is one of the many ways in which your pet tries to grab your attention. A dog licking your legs usually tickles and you laugh. This is a great reaction for your dog and it has worked, they have caught your attention. 

However, if they overdo it, there are ways you can get your dog to stop.

Tips On How To Stop Your Dog Licking

Compulsive Licking

Excessive licking can be a nuisance, but thankfully it doesn’t take much to stop it.

Here are four tips to help reduce the licking: 

1. Allow A Small Amount

I am not a person that likes my dog licking me or any dog for that matter.

However, I will let Victor, my toy poodle cross, give me a welcome lick on my hand to say good morning or hello. I place my hand up to his mouth, palm down and he gives me one lick and we are both happy.  

2. Leave 

Stop your dog’s excessive licking by leaving. You can either leave the room or step away a few feet.

Keep doing this until it learns to stop licking when it starts annoying you or when you issue the cue to STOP.

3. Ignore

As said earlier, dogs sometimes lick to get attention. There’s nothing wrong with giving in to their request by cuddling them or a rub under the ears for a few minutes.

But if your pet starts using this sneaky trick often, show them that it is just not on by ignoring them. That would get the message across loud and clear. 

4. Reward Training

Obsessive licking can be a sign of underlying issues, like fear, anxiety, or boredom. Reward training can help you reduce this compulsive behavior using positive reinforcement. 

Introduce your pet to another activity when it starts licking your legs to distract them. Or you can train your dog the WAIT cue and step back from the dog.