Why Does My Dog Lick My Legs? 9 Possible Reasons!

Picture of dog licking
Photo by Isabel Vittrup-Pallier on Unsplash

Does your dog keep licking your legs? If so – it’s nothing to be concerned about, dogs love to lick their owner’s legs to show their affection and love. It’s a common behaviour among all dog breeds, and there’s usually nothing to worry about.

However, while some people may find it cute that their dog is licking them, most people don’t like the thought of this, especially around dogs that are owned by other people. The feeling of wet slobber on your legs can be off-putting, to say the least!

If your dog is licking your legs excessively – it could be a sign that something is wrong and they are trying to get your attention. But most licking behaviour is completely normal, so don’t worry too much about it. They may just love and adore you!

Why would my dog want to lick my legs?

There are a couple of reasons why a dog would want to lick your legs, here are 9 reasons why:

They want your attention

Dogs crave attention from their owners, so if you haven’t been giving your dog as much attention recently, they could start to lick your legs. This is their way of trying to get your attention, and it usually works!

Dogs need a lot of love, cuddles, kisses and scratches, and if they don’t get this – this can make them feel unwelcome and unwanted. They may start to feel lonely, so in an attempt to get your attention, they will start licking you to show that they love you and that they want to receive something back.

They’re trying to tell you something

Dogs use licking as a way of communication, so if they are licking your legs excessively it could be because they are trying to tell you something. It could be that they are hungry, thirsty or need to go outside.

If they suddenly start licking you – it’s worth checking that they can access the outdoors to relieve themselves, or whether they have enough food and water available for them.

They can smell something

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell, and they can often smell things that we humans can’t. So, if your dog is licking your legs – it could be because they can smell something that you can’t, even if it seems that there isn’t anything there.

It could be that there’s a food spill on your clothes, or that you’ve been walking in an area with lots of strong smells. Either way, their licking is their way of trying to figure out what the smell is, and why it’s there. It’s their way of trying to protect you and help keep you clean!

They like the taste

Dogs have very strong taste buds and when they taste something they like – they usually can’t stop themselves from licking it. If you’ve been cooking something delicious, or if you’ve just applied a strong-smelling lotion – your dog may start to lick your legs in an attempt to taste it!

It could also be that they simply enjoy the taste of your skin, as some people have a natural salty taste that dogs love. It’s important to not let your dog lick you if there is a toxic substance on your skin, like Chocolate, because even if small quantities this can be harmful to them.

They want to show you affection

Dogs show their affection in many ways, and licking is one of the most common. If your dog is licking your legs or face – they are likely trying to show you how much they love and care for you. It’s their way of saying “I love you!”.

Think of licking as a dog’s way of giving you kisses and try and enjoy it. However, if there is a cut or sore on your skin – it’s important to stop them from licking it as this could make the wound worse. There’s a misconception that dogs’ mouths are super clean – but according to Veterinary Dental, this couldn’t be further from the truth and we should still be careful with where our dog licks our bodies. You should not let your dog lick your mouth or eyes, as an example.

They want to play with you!

Dogs love to play and receive attention, whether that’s by receiving belly scratches or playing ball in the garden – they love to get your attention. One way this does this is by kicking you – this could be a sign that they would like to initiate playtime.

It’s important to try and engage in playtime with your dog as much as possible, as this keeps them active, happy and engaged. A dog that doesn’t play often tends to be a sad doggo!

They are worried about something

Dogs are super needy when they are anxious or stressed – this is why we often see them following us around the house or trying to sit on our laps. If your dog is excessively licking your legs it could be because they are worried about something and are seeking reassurance from you.

If you suspect that they are upset, anxious or stressed, give them lots of attention, scratches and kisses, and tell them that they have nothing to worry about. If your dog is also nibbling on things they shouldn’t be, this is another sign that they aren’t themselves.

Little things like a loud noise outside, to a change in routine – such as a holiday or going somewhere new can make them feel anxious. Fireworks and thunderstorms can also upset dogs, so it’s not unusual for dogs to be sat close to their owners during festive seasons (2).

Your dog could be in pain

Dogs will undoubtedly suffer pain throughout their lives, so it’s important to keep an eye out for any changes in behaviour that may be a sign that something is wrong. If your dog starts excessively licking one of its legs – this could be a sign that they are experiencing pain or discomfort in that area.

However, it’s not unusual for dogs to want to lick their owner’s legs too, this could be their signal to you that they aren’t feeling well. If you think that your dog may be in pain, it’s important to take them to the vet as soon as possible for a check-up.

Below are some of the signs that your dog may be in pain:

  • Whimpering, crying or whining
  • Changes in their appetite or eating less
  • Lethargy or tiredness, not wanting to exercise as frequently
  • Difficulty moving around or walking very slowly
  • Changes in toilet habits, or relieving themselves inside the home
  • Limping and struggling to keep their balance

If you notice any of the above signs in your doggo, it’s worth giving your vet a call and seeing if they can help.

They are grooming you

Dogs groom themselves by licking their fur, and they also groom their owners and other dogs as a way of showing affection. If your dog is licking your legs – it could be because they are trying to groom you and make you clean. It’s their way of taking care of you!

While it may be a bit weird to have your dog lick you, it’s a sign of affection and they just want to make sure you’re clean and smell good. It’s nothing to worry about and it’s just their way of showing that they love and appreciate everything you do for them!

My experience with my own dog licking my legs

Tilly, our miniature dachshund occasionally licks our legs, especially if she’s in bed with us. It’s not something she does all the time, but it’s definitely a sign of affection I find. She likes to cuddle us shortly after and give us lots of kisses!

It doesn’t bother us too much, but we know that some people may not be too keen on having their dog lick them. If this is the case, you can always train your dog to stop doing it.

We like it as long as she doesn’t lick our face, as that can be a bit much!

Conclusion: Why does my dog lick my legs all the time?

There we have it – that’s everything you need to know about why your dog licks your legs all the time! It’s nothing to worry about, but if you are concerned that the excessive licking could be something else, you should take them to a veterinarian to rule out any medical conditions / and or pain that they are experiencing.

But most of the time – they do it out of love and affection, but it is worth checking to see that they have available water and food, because they could be telling you to hurry up and feed them!

Professional References:

Below are the references used in this content to professional academic research institutions and medical associations, that have been used to help inform the content in this article. To learn more about our process of creating content, please see our about page.

2 comments
    1. Thanks for the comment! It’s very likely they are a little stressed and anxious, so make sure to give them lots of cuddles and kisses!

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