Why Do Dogs Lick? Why Do They Bark?

Reasons Why Dogs Bark & Lick

Licking and barking are two of the most frustrating things any dog owner has to contend with. On the one hand it’s lovely knowing your dog adores you and wants to protect you, but on the other, you just want some peace and quiet and to be left alone.


Dogs are persistent lickers. Whilst some dog owners don’t mind their dogs licking them all over, others find it a little off-putting and would much rather their dogs would keep their slobber to themselves. So, what urges a dog to lick?

Puppies experience licking from the moment they are born. Their mother will lick them soon after birth to clean them and to stimulate their breathing. For a dog, licking is an important part of survival.

Dogs are also comforted by the sensation licking gives them. When a dog licks, endorphins are released which help to put the dog at ease.

Licking people

There are a number of reasons why a dog may lick a person. It could simple be that the dog likes the taste of us. Humans have salty skin which dogs love to lick. We’re also likely to have food particles and other pleasurable smells on us that appeal to a dog’s senses.

Dogs may lick people when they want something, such as water or food. Licking is a method of communication for them and continuous licking may be them asking you for assistance.

Dogs also like to show affection to their owners. Your dog loves you and the only way he knows how to tell you is to lick you.

Licking itself

A dog will lick itself for a number of reasons. The most common reason is grooming. Another reason is to heal a cut of wound. The saliva in a dog’s mouth contains enzymes that kill bacteria and help to heal wounds.

Some dogs compulsively lick when they are stressed or anxious. They will lick to relieve their stress and to make themselves feel better. However, a dog displaying symptoms of stress and anxiety should be seen by a veterinarian to prevent their emotions from getting worse.


Barking can be just as annoying and, in some cases, even more annoying than licking. Barking is a dog’s natural way of communication and the quickest and easiest way it can share how it’s feeling.

Many dogs will bark when someone knocks on the front door or when they see a stranger outside the house. Barking is the dog’s way of warning the person away and letting their owner know that there’s an unknown person close by. Other dogs will bark when they are anxious. This is to soothe themselves and display that they’re not happy.

Playful dogs will bark when they’re happy and excited. This often happens mid-game or when they’re about to go for a walk. It’s also possible that your dog is barking to gain attention from you because he wants feeding or to play.

Bored dogs may bark to release some of their energy and to show you that they are not happy. Another possibility is that your dog is barking in response to another dogs bark. It’s common for a whole street of dogs to set one another off with one simple bark.


Measures can be put into place to stop a dog from licking or barking or both. Simple training techniques can be used to prevent unwanted behaviour, but be prepared to put time and effort into achieving your desired end goal.

Training to stop a dog licking you starts by getting up and walking away from your dog when he licks you. He will soon associate you leaving him with licking. Continuing to put this into practice will make the dog learn that he doesn’t get the attention he wants when he licks you.

Barking can be more difficult to put a stop too and some dogs and their owners may benefit from professional help in cracking this problem. Things you can do to alleviate the problem are to give your dog a cue when he barks that he has done wrong. You should also stay calm when addressing the dogs barking. Preventing your dog from getting bored may also help, as it will take his mind off the things he barks at. Therefore, make sure you provide plenty of stimulation and exercise for your dog.

Licking and barking are annoying habits that most dogs possess. There are however things you can do and triggers to look out for to prevent either habit spiralling out of control.




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