Have you noticed your dog licks you after they have had a drink of water?
Does this behavior seem a bit weird to you?
Would you like to know why they act like this?
Why is it that after having a drink, they would get the urge to lick your skin?
This is not the sort of question that scientists spend time researching, so there aren’t any scientific studies or data we can use to answer it.
But we can think about why dogs lick objects, other dogs, and people and then figure out why they might lick you after drinking.
In a nutshell, dogs lick people to bond with them, to show affection, to get attention, or because the person’s skin tastes nice.
Let’s look at this in more detail.
Why Does Your Dog Lick You After Drinking Water?
The most likely reason your dog licks you after drinking water is that they like the taste of your skin after their drink.
Human skin tends to taste salty due to the salt from our sweat.
It makes sense that this would taste nice to the dog after some water in a similar way that humans have a drink when they eat salty food.
NOTE – If the licking behavior is new, and it seems obsessive or like there is something wrong with the dog causing them to behave this way, you should consider taking them to the vet.
In most cases, your dog licking you is perfectly normal, but in some cases, it can be a sign of distress or an underlying medical issue.
If you are struggling financially and worried about vet bills, this website lists places you can contact for help.
(If you do not live in the USA, you can use Google to search for similar help near you, there is a lot of support out there for dog owners in difficulty).
Why Do Dogs Lick So Much?
Dogs have an instinct to lick, which is part of their nature.
Dogs explore the world around them with their noses, mouths, teeth, and tongues.
They lick when grooming, including as part of the social grooming of other dogs and humans.
They also use licking to assess if something is edible or not.
Dogs also may lick excessively due to boredom, hunger, thirst, stress, or a medical condition.
As dog owners, our job is to figure out what might be causing the licking and, if it is a problem, figure out how to deal with it.
Why Do Dogs Lick People?
- Social grooming.
- Showing affection.
- Expressing empathy.
- Some humans have tasty skin.
- To gain attention.
1. Social Grooming
In the same way, dogs engage in mutual grooming with other dogs. They also do so with humans.
So, yes. If your dog is licking you, it might be because it thinks you are unclean!
But it could also be a way of bonding with you. You can decide for yourself which it is!
2. Showing Affection
Dogs will lick and nuzzle humans to express affection towards them.
While this may leave you covered in unpleasant and slimy dog saliva, at least it was well-intentioned!
3. Expressing Empathy
Dogs are very smart. They can often tell when humans are sad, sick, or in pain.
What is even more awesome is they will often try to alleviate the suffering and express empathy by licking the person who is sad or sick.
4. Some Humans Have Tasty Skin
Dogs often lick humans because their skin tastes nice.
It might be that the person has just eaten some tasty food, or possibly that they have been sweating, and the dog likes the taste of the salty sweat.
In my opinion, the most likely reason your dog licks you after having a drink is that they like the salty taste of your skin after drinking the water.
NOTE – You might also like to read this post if you are interested in the question: why does my dog lick me after eating food?
5. To Gain Attention
Most dogs love getting attention from their owners, and they are clever enough to learn ways to get that attention.
If they try to get your attention by licking you and you respond by stroking them, they will learn to repeat this action in the future when they want to be petted.
(You might not realize it, but your dog is training you to behave in certain ways, just like you teach them).
Before we go any further… You might find this video interesting.
Dr. Jones (a qualified vet) and his gorgeous pup Tula share more interesting thoughts about why dogs lick their owners.
Just click the video to start playing:
NOTE – You might like to read this post looking at the question: why do dogs like drinking beer?
How to Train Your Dog Not to Lick You So Much
When trying to train a dog not to lick your skin, we first need to remember that licking is a perfectly natural behavior for them.
This means it might be hard to eliminate licking entirely, and you should only try to do so with good reason.
With that said, there is a simple two-step process that should be very effective with most dogs:
- Use the “No” command to stop them from licking you.
- Use distraction and praise to redirect the dog’s attention.
Let’s look at each step more closely:
Training and Using the “No” Command
If you have not already trained your dog to obey the no command, you should prioritize it.
Select a behavior you want them to stop doing – in this case, licking you after drinking water – catch them in the act of doing it, say “No” in a firm voice, and physically stop them from doing it.
For example, if your dog was licking your hand, you would pull your hand away and say the “No” command clearly and firmly.
Once they understand the “No” command for hand licking, it will be much easier to train them to understand it in a different context, such as barking or jumping up at people.
So you should work through a few different behaviors until they understand that “No” means stop what they are doing, whatever it is.
Using Distraction and Praise to Encourage A Different Behavior
After successfully using the “No” command to stop the dog from licking you, you should reward and distract them.
Give them a treat, pet them, or give verbal praise, so they associate stopping with feeling good.
Then play with them, let them go outside, move them around the house, or do something similar to distract them from returning to the licking.
If you keep up with this simple two-step process, you will notice a reduction in their behavior.
Not only that, but if they do carry on with the licking, you will be able to stop them much more quickly.
Please note that if you struggle to stop your dog from licking, it may be because they are doing so due to stress, boredom, or a medical condition.
If this might be the case, you should do your best to fix the underlying cause and, if need be, take the dog to the vet to get checked out.
Final Thoughts On Why Your Dog Licks You After Drinking Water
Dogs lick their owners for various reasons, but your dog licking you after they have drunk water is most likely because your skin tastes nice and salty.
In most cases, your dog licking you is perfectly normal behavior, and there is nothing for you to worry about.
If you don’t like them doing it, you can try to train them out of this behavior trait, but you will need to work hard to have a chance of totally stopping it.
If the licking seems frantic or obsessive, it is best to take them to the vet for a checkup.
Some mental and physical health issues can cause excessive licking in dogs, so it’s best to get them checked out.
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!