Licking is one way that dogs communicate with each other. They lick each other in packs when they are in the wild, in environments where two or more dogs live together, or just lounging around the house with their human owners.
Dogs lick people as a form of communication, but licks do not always convey the same message. A lick can be a sign of greeting to humans who have been away at school or work. A lick upon your return may be a way of saying, “Hello,” “I’m glad you are home,” or “Check out the new hole I’ve chewed in your couch pillow!”
Whether they are around other dogs or with people, dogs also lick those to whom they would show deference and submission. Dogs lick people to acknowledge a power structure. A few licks might be how dogs bend the knee, or pledge continued fealty to their owners. Licking is a way for dogs to show that they belong to us. If you’re anything like me, though, a communicative lick is just as much a dog asserting his control over you!
Next Up: It’s feeding time