Why Does My Dog Lick Me When I Hug Him? Explained

If you are a dog owner, you might have experienced the endearing gesture of your furry companion showering you with kisses when you hug them. 

While it’s easy to interpret this behavior as a sign of love, there’s more to it than meets the eye. In this article, we will explore the various reasons behind why dogs lick when hugged and what it signifies about their emotions and communication. 

Additionally, we will delve into the science behind this behavior and provide some tips on how to strengthen the bond with your four-legged friend.

Demonstrating Affection and Love

One of the primary reasons why dogs lick when hugged is to demonstrate their affection and love towards their human counterparts. 

Dogs are social animals that form strong emotional bonds with their owners, and licking is one of the ways they express these feelings. 

Licking releases oxytocin, often referred to as the “love hormone,” which not only reinforces their feelings of attachment but also creates a positive emotional connection with their humans.

Communication and Body Language

Dogs use a variety of non-verbal cues to communicate with humans and other animals. When your dog licks you while you’re hugging them, it can be considered a form of communication and body language. 

It’s their way of saying, “I’m here, and I trust you.” This behavior is deeply ingrained in their ancestry, where wolf puppies would lick their mother’s face to solicit regurgitated food or show submission and respect.

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Seeking Attention and Affirmation

Licking can also be a subtle way for dogs to seek attention and affirmation from their owners. When they see you in a loving embrace or giving attention to someone else, they may feel the need to participate in the interaction to receive their share of affection. 

Reinforcing this behavior with positive attention can further strengthen the bond between you and your pet.

Relieving Stress and Anxiety

Just like humans, dogs experience stress and anxiety. Licking acts as a self-soothing mechanism that helps dogs relieve their stress and promotes a sense of calmness. 

So, when your dog licks you while you hug them, it may indicate that they are seeking comfort during stressful situations or unfamiliar environments.

Taste and Exploration

Dogs primarily experience the world through their senses, and licking is one of their ways to explore and understand their surroundings. 

When they lick you while you hug them, they might be curious about the taste, texture, or scent of your skin, clothes, or even the residue of treats or food you may have had earlier.

An Ingrained Grooming Behavior

Grooming is an essential behavior in a dog’s social structure. In a pack setting, dogs groom each other to strengthen social bonds, convey submission, and maintain hygiene. 

When your dog licks you during a hug, they might be emulating this grooming behavior, further cementing their bond with you.


In conclusion, dogs lick when hugged for various reasons, all of which reflect their deep emotional bond with their human companions. From demonstrating affection and love to seeking attention and relief from stress, this behavior is a fascinating aspect of canine communication. 

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Embrace this gesture with love and understanding, as it’s your dog’s way of expressing their devotion to you.