Why Does My Dog Lick My Hands?

Why Does My Dog Lick My Hands

It’s got to be something that we all love – you come back from a hard day’s work and your furry friend is there ready to greet you. You go up to them and say hello and they begin to lick your hands! 

Although this is cute, you might get this treatment quite often and wonder what is going on with your pooch and why they’re licking your hands so much. 

We’ve devised a guide below that might be able to shine some light on your dog’s penchant for hand licking. We hope this helps! 

You’ve Got Tasty Hands 

This might sound absolutely ridiculous but trust us – we’re going somewhere!

Humans are creatures of habit, so if you’re coming home from a day of work, you might have previously decided to grab a sandwich or maybe some other tasty treat before you get back. 

If that’s the case – your dog might be able to smell that, and they want a bit of it too! Ever licked your own fingers after eating chicken or a bag of potato chips? Well, your furry friend is doing that work for you. 

Much like us, dogs will learn habits. So, even if you’ve stopped getting that sandwich or other treat, or you’ve strenuously washed your hands – the dog will still try its luck for a scrumptious taste. 

Speaking of taste, dogs actually enjoy the taste of our skin believe it or not. Experts think that it is our salty skin that keeps the dogs coming back for more each time! 

They’re Telling You They Love You 

This is possibly the most recognizable communication method of humans and dogs.

Licking from a dog is their version of kissing, so if they’re greeting you by licking your hands – the pup is simply telling you how much they love you! 

Some experts believe though that this does not constitute kissing, but we have treated it this way for so long, that we return the favor with hugs and playtime.

Dogs are highly reciprocal, which is why Pavlovian conditioning works with them. Therefore, if they’ve discovered that licking your hands results in cuddles or tummy tickles – they’re gonna keep doing it! 

They’re Assessing Your Mood 

Not only does licking us release endorphins from the pooch and make them feel good, but we can actually tell a dog how we’re feeling by letting them lick our hands. 

This is because our sweat can release pheremones which the dog can assess by first licking us and then working it out in different sensory organs. 

They’re Trying To Cheer You Up 

Dogs are so similar to humans with their emotions, it’s sometimes shocking. 

Ever walked by someone crying or looking upset and wanted to know what was wrong and try to help? Your canine companion is doing just that! 

A study suggested that dogs respond more to humans crying (or at least pretending to cry) rather than singing. The dog will come over to you and nuzzle, make noises and of course, lick your hands. 

They’re Hailing To The Boss 

Dogs can show their submissive nature to you by licking your hand. It actually spans way back from when we introduced them into our household, bred from wolves.

A leader of a pack of wolves will always be licked by the others. 

What the dog is doing is saying “you’re my boss” and they’re giving you their loyalty. They will also do this if you’ve been away for a while which will ease any separation anxiety they might be experiencing. 

Additionally, when dogs are puppies – they’ll lick their mother’s muzzle which will often be a way of communicating, asking for food or finding out where their mother has been.

For you, they might be doing the same – assessing if there is food in the area or trying to catch a scent of your previous location. 

You’ve Been With Other Dogs 

It’s probably no surprise that a dog can sense another dog’s scent, and if you’ve been petting other dogs – your friend will undoubtedly know about it.

Licking you is simply the dog trying to ascertain what dog it was and where you’ve been. 

They Want Attention 

Sometimes, all your buddy wants is some attention and love. Just like humans, there will come a time when you simply want a hug and a play.

Your friend will look for affection and attention by licking your hand – which might be accompanied by a cry or squeak. 

They’re Hungry! 

Sometimes dogs are looking to butter you up because they want treats or they need feeding. Licking you can be a way to try and move you towards their bowl! Sneaky pups!

They Want To Be Left Alone 

This might seem counterintuitive but if you’ve gone up to your dog and they’ve licked your hand and then turned away, they’re trying to convey that they want some alone time.

Again, much like us – sometimes a dog just wants to be on their own or maybe they need rest. 

How Am I Meant To Know The Difference?!

Unless you can speak poodle – chances are, you won’t know for sure! It’s all about weighing up the dog’s emotions and other actions with their licking of your hand.

If, for example, they are licking your hand and moving their head to the kitchen – they might be hungry! 

Maybe, as we said – they’re licking your hand and then turning away to indicate alone time. Perhaps they’re licking your hand over and over again and not stopping.

This could be their way to calm themselves from separation anxiety – or you might have recently had something very tasty in your hands! 

Whatever the rationale for the dog licking your hands, you’ll have to try and work that one out using deductive reasoning! 


Your furry friend licking your hands can mean so many things, as dogs are communicative creatures. If you don’t mind your pup giving you kisses, then fantastic! (Just remember to wash your hands after!) 

If however you don’t like it, consider training your dog to reduce licking with a command. They likely won’t stop altogether, but you can significantly reduce their habit! 

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