If your dog has been licking your hands a lot, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do about them.

So, why does my dog lick my hands? Possible reasons why your dog licks your hands are that it has learned that it gets rewards for doing it, looking for attention, liking the taste, grooming, or excitement.

There are a number of reasons why your dog might be licking your hands so it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely. Once you have a good idea of the main cause, it should become easier to get your dog to stop doing it.

Why does my dog lick my hands?

Below are a number of reasons why your dog might have been licking your hands a lot and what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason.

Encouraging the behavior

It could be the case that your dog has learned that it gets rewarded when your dog licks your hands. If you tend to give it things such as toys, treats or extra attention, when your dog licks your hands, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.

Instead, it would help to reward it while your dog is not licking your hands and to stop giving it rewards as soon as it starts trying to lick you.

Your dog likes the taste of your hands

It is likely that your hands have a strong taste on them. It could be the case that your dog has been doing it because it likes the way that your hands taste. This would be more likely your dog it tries to lick the bottom part of your hands specifically and if it tries to lick them even when you are not trying to pet it.

It’s looking for attention

The cause might be that it is looking for attention. This would be more likely if it does it more when you have not been giving it much attention and if you tend to give it more attention when it does it.

Instead, it would help to give it attention throughout the day by playing with it, training it and exercising it but to avoid rewarding it with attention when your dog licks your hands by redirecting its behavior when it starts.

Nature

When dogs are young, one of the first ways that they will explore the world is by licking and sniffing things. If your dog is a puppy then it is likely to be the case that it is exploring when your dog is licking your hands. The habit of licking things will stay with it as it gets older which is why they will naturally lick quite often.

Affection

It might also be the case that it does it because it is being affectionate. When it’s licking you it’s letting you know that it trusts you and that you are a part of its tribe. This type of licking is normal and will often happen when you try to pet it.

Grooming

Dogs will often groom themselves by licking. They will also groom others such as when a mother dogs licks her puppies. This is could be why your dog has been licking your hands. This would be more likely if it tries to lick you when you are not petting it.

Excitement

The reason why your dog licks your hands could be that it is excited. This would be more likely if it tends to do it in situations where it gets very excited such as when you come home or when it is going out for a walk.

In this case, it would help to avoid doing the thing that it gets excited about and to wait for it to stop licking your hands before continuing.

Things to consider about your dog licking your hands

Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.

What else happened when your dog first started licking your hands

If your dog did not always lick your hands, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as learning that it gets rewards for doing it or if you stopped giving it as much attention causing it to do things to get you to give it more attention.

What is different when your dog licks your hands

It would also help to consider the timing of when it licks your hands. If it tends to do it more when you arrive home, it would be more likely to be due to things such as excitement and it would help to ignore it until it stops licking and then to reward it for not licking.

What to do about your dog licking your hands

Below are some things you can do in order to get your dog to stop licking your hands.

Avoid encouraging the behavior

As mentioned above, it could be the case that your dog has learned that it gets rewards for licking your hands. It would help to stop giving it rewards or attention, when it starts licking your hands, then to give it attention again once it has stopped.

Train your dog not to lick your hands

Positive reinforcement training is where you get your dog to do things that you want by rewarding it for doing them or showing signs of doing them.

To use positive reinforcement training to get it to stop licking your hands you would:

  • Stand up turn away and hide your hands when it starts licking your hands leaving the room if necessary.
  • Wait a few moments and then go back to giving it attention and then turning away again if it starts licking your hand
  • Repeat the above until it learns that licking your hand causes it to lose your attention
  • Reward it with a treat when it does particularly well

Give your dog distractions

In addition to the above, you could also try giving it things to be distracted by such as bones or toys so that it is less likely to start licking your hands.

Give your dog attention

It would also help to give it attention throughout the day so that it is less likely to try to get attention from you. Ways to give it attention would be to train it, exercise it and to play with it.

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I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.