Why Does My Dog Lick Me When I Hold Her Paw? Explained

Dogs have various ways of expressing their affection towards humans, and one of these behaviors includes licking. 

While it’s not uncommon for dogs to lick their owners, some pet owners might be puzzled when their dogs specifically choose to lick them when they hold their paws. 

This seemingly endearing behavior can have multiple explanations rooted in a dog’s natural instincts, social bonding, and unique sensory experience. In this article, we will delve into the reasons behind why your dog may lick you when you hold her paw.

Social Bonding and Trust

Dogs are social animals that form strong emotional bonds with their human companions. When a dog allows you to hold her paw, it’s a sign of trust and a desire for closeness. 

Licking is a common form of social bonding among dogs, often seen during grooming rituals between pack members. By licking you when you hold her paw, your dog may be expressing her affection and reinforcing the bond she shares with you.

Communication and Attention-Seeking

Licking is also a means of communication for dogs. When you hold your dog’s paw, it can be seen as a form of physical contact, and licking is her way of reciprocating that touch. 

Dogs use their tongues to explore and gather information about their environment, and by licking your hand, she may be trying to communicate her needs or seek attention from you.

Sensory Experience

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell, and their tongues play a vital role in their sensory experience. The sweat glands on their paws produce unique scents, and by licking your hand, your dog is gathering information about you and your surroundings. 

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It’s possible that your dog finds comfort or familiarity in the scent of your hand and is simply enjoying the sensory experience.

Taste and Saltiness

Another reason your dog may lick you when you hold her paw is that she is attracted to the taste of your skin. Human skin contains small amounts of salt, which can be appealing to dogs. 

This behavior might be reinforced if your dog has associated the act of licking with a positive response from you, such as praise or treats. Over time, it can become a habitual behavior, especially when accompanied by the interaction of holding her paw.

Stress Relief and Soothing Behavior

Licking can be a self-soothing behavior for dogs. It releases endorphins, providing a calming effect, and can alleviate stress or anxiety. 

When your dog feels safe and secure in your presence, holding her paw might trigger this soothing response, leading to licking. 

It’s essential to pay attention to your dog’s body language and overall behavior to determine if the licking is a result of stress relief or simply an expression of affection.


When your dog licks you while you hold her paw, it’s a combination of various factors, including social bonding, communication, sensory experience, taste, and potential stress relief. This behavior is an expression of your dog’s affection, trust, and desire for connection. 

Understanding the reasons behind this behavior can help strengthen your bond with your furry friend and enhance your ability to communicate effectively. 

However, if you notice excessive licking or changes in your dog’s behavior, it’s always advisable to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues or potential anxiety concerns.