Have you noticed that your dog seems to enjoy licking your pants?
Do they seem stressed when they do it? Or are they happy and content?
Should you be worried about this behavior?
And why do they do it?
Let’s find out.
Why Does My Dog Lick My Pants?
Your dog might lick your pants for one of several reasons.
There could be a pleasant taste or smell on your items of clothing.
It could be because they are happy to see you, it could be a form of social grooming, or they could be stressed or sick.
Dogs explore and understand the world with their mouths by licking, biting, and chewing.
This is similar to the way humans feel things with their hands.
Dogs also don’t understand the concept of pants (or any item of clothing) in the same way humans do, so how they react to them is different from how we do.
Let’s look at the above reasons in more detail and see which could most likely explain why your dog likes licking your pants so much.
- Your pants taste or smell good.
- Your dog is happy to see you.
- Canine social grooming.
- Your dog is stressed, in pain, or sick.
1. Your Pants Taste or Smell Good
If you have a nice taste or smell on your outfit, the dog will lick at it just for the pleasure of doing so.
This could be some spilled food or the taste of dog treats left on your hand and transferred to whatever pants you are wearing.
Or it could be your sweat or scent that makes the dog want to lick your pants.
NOTE – You might also find this post interesting. It looks at why dogs eat underwear.
2. Your Dog is Happy to See You
Dogs use licking as a form of body language and communication.
For example, if you watch two or more dogs together, they will often lick each other.
So it could just be that your dog licks your pants because it is happy to see you.
It’s not really the pants they are licking. You are important, and you just happen to be wearing pants.
3. Canine Social Grooming
Dogs, humans, and other animals often perform social grooming as a way of bonding with each other.
As we said earlier, your dog does not understand that you are wearing pants, so licking clothing would feel the same as licking another dog’s coat.
Yes, lucky you, your dog is cleaning your pants for you!
4. Your Dog Is Stressed, In Pain, Or Sick
Sadly our pet dogs can’t talk to us, but they can communicate in other ways, including licking, nuzzling, and nibbling.
Also, dogs can lick people, other dogs, or random household items when sick or stressed as a way of self-soothing.
If you think about it in the same way that some people bite their nails when they are nervous, it should make sense that your dog might do something similar.
If your pooch shows any signs of emotional or physical issues, or if the way they lick you is frantic or obsessive, you should get them checked out with your vet.
If you are in financial difficulty and are worried about vet bills, this site lists helpful resources for charities to help you pay your bills.
(If you don’t live in the US, you can use Google to find similar help in your country, there is a lot of support online for dog owners who are in difficulty).
NOTE – You might also like to read this post about why dogs lick clothes.
Canine Behavior – It’s Complicated!
When examining the behavior traits of domestic dogs (including your dog’s pant-licking), we must remember that a combination of complicated factors drives them.
To keep it simple, the following principles can sum up these factors:
- Domestic dogs evolved from an ancient species of wolf.
- Humans have selectively bred dogs for thousands of years.
- Every dog is different.
- A dog’s upbringing has an impact on its behavior.
So as you try to understand why your dog does what it does, you can see there are many things to consider.
Let’s look at that list in more detail.
Domestic Dogs Evolved From an Ancient Species of Wolf
We know that dogs evolved from a species of wolf.
The most likely candidate is the Late Pleistocene wolf, although there is still some debate about this point.
When analyzing your pet dog’s behavior, it’s close enough to say that your dog evolved from a wolf species, which can explain some of your pup’s actions.
Humans Have Selectively Bred Dogs for Thousands of Years
Thousands of years ago, your dog’s ancestors gradually became domesticated.
They probably started hanging around close to human encampments, scavenging, and then begging for scraps.
Over time, the wolves became closer to the humans, who started breeding them to recreate and enhance certain traits such as intelligence or strength.
Over thousands of years, this selective breeding continued until today, and now we can see a wide range of domestic dog breeds.
All this history of selective breeding comes into play when analyzing your dog and why they do the things they do.
Every Dog is Different
Just as every human is different, every dog is also different.
They all have a unique DNA profile, impacting not just their physical characteristics but also their behavior.
Your dog will have behavior quirks that are unique to them, just like the people in your life do.
A Dog’s Upbringing Has an Impact on its Behavior
From how skilled a puppy’s mother is to how early they are separated from each other.
From how well trained the dog is to if they suffer from any trauma such as being attacked by another dog or hit by a car.
Your dog’s life affects their later behavior and must be considered when understanding why they act in the ways they do.
What Should I Do If My Dog Licks My Pants?
If your dog licks your pants, you have two choices you can either ignore it, or you can use distraction training to train them not to do this behavior.
The behavior is harmless apart from the risk of dog slobber on your legs, so it’s totally up to you if you want to train them not to do it.
How to Stop Dogs from Licking My Pants?
Training your puppy or adult dog not to lick pants is a simple two-step process.
When you next catch them doing it, give them a firm “No” command.
This is not to tell them off, just to let them know that you do not want them doing what they are doing.
Then use something to distract them away from your clothing.
You can use treats, a beloved toy, some strokes or cuddles, or anything the dog enjoys enough to be distracted from your pants.
This distraction will reinforce the behavior by encouraging them to do something else rather than covering your pants in dog slobber!
Note – You might enjoy this short video. It shares more tips on how to train a dog to stop them from licking you.
Just click on the video, and it will start playing:
Should You Worry About Your Dog Licking Your Pants?
Dogs licking pants is, in most cases, a perfectly normal, natural, and healthy pattern of behavior and, as such, is nothing to worry about.
However, it could be something to be concerned about if the licking is frantic, obsessive, or seems like the puppy or adult dog is doing so out of distress.
In this case, take the dog to the vet for a check-up as soon as possible.
It might not be anything to worry about, but it is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your dog’s health and well-being.
Final Notes On Why Your Dog Licks Your Pants
Dogs lick pants for many reasons, including if the clothing smells or tastes nice or as a way of expressing and showing affection towards their owners.
It is probably nothing to worry about, but if you feel it might be due to an underlying health issue, you should take the puppy or dog to a vet for a check-up.
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!