Have you noticed that your dog often enjoys licking your wrists?
Do they do it at a particular time of day? Do they seem stressed or happy when they do it?
Should you be worried about this behavior?
Why do they do it? And how can you stop them from licking your wrists if you want to?
Let’s find out…
Why Does Your Dog Lick Your Wrist So Much?
Your dog licks your wrist because they like the taste, are attracted to your skin care products, to express affection, to show submission, to groom you, because they are distressed, or they can smell something different about you.
As a loving dog owner, you need to find out why your dog is licking your wrist and ensure there is nothing wrong with your dog.
So, let’s look at this in more detail:
- Your wrist tastes nice.
- They are being affectionate.
- They are expressing submissiveness.
- They are trying to groom you.
- Your dog might be sick, stressed, or in pain.
- You accidentally trained your pup to lick your wrist.
1. Your Wrists Taste Nice
As a dog owner, you will be well aware that your dog has very different ideas of what is tasty and lickable to yourself!
To your dog, licking your wrist could be delicious, perhaps because of the salt from your sweat.
Or it could be that some of the products you use on your wrists are tasty to your dog.
Maybe it is the taste of the soap you wash your hands with or the moisturizer you use, or maybe you apply perfume to your wrists.
Important Note – If you think your dog is licking this area of your body due to them liking the taste of a product you are using, you should stop them from doing so.
A little lick of perfume or soap residue is unlikely to hurt your dog, but some products may contain canine toxic chemicals such as xylitol which can be very dangerous to your pet pooch.
2. They Are Being Affectionate
One of the best things about being a dog owner is how much love and affection our pet dogs give us.
They are amazing creatures, and we are fortunate to have them in our lives.
It could be as simple as your dog is licking your wrist to show you some affection, and they happen to prefer that spot on your body.
3. They Are Expressing Submissiveness
Like humans, dogs live in hierarchies of social status, of how they live with other dogs and humans.
Often (and ideally), pet dogs see their owners as more dominant and show their submissiveness through body language and other behaviors.
4. They Are Trying to Groom You
Lots of animals (including dogs and humans) engage in social grooming.
Dogs do this as a way of bonding but also for practical reasons, for example, a dog can’t lick their ears, but another dog can.
So… yes! When your dog licks your wrist, it could be because they think you are dirty and need to be cleaned and groomed.
5. Your Dog Might Be Sick, Stressed, Or in Pain
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 times when they are 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 your wrist 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 for dog owners who are in difficulty).
6. You Accidentally Trained Your Pup to Lick Your Wrist
While this may sound surprising, it is easy to accidentally train your dog into a behavior pattern.
For example, let’s say your dog randomly licked your wrist one day, and without thinking, you laughed and stroked them.
The dog felt good because you reacted warmly and gave them some attention.
They repeated the behavior, and you gave them a nice cuddle this time.
They have learned that you will be nice to them if they lick your wrist.
So whenever they want some attention and affection from you, they lick inside your wrist and see if it works.
NOTE – Before you read further, you might enjoy this video about why dogs lick their owners.
Just click on the video to start playing:
Should You Let Your Dog Lick Your Wrists?
Canine saliva has some nasty bugs. As a result, diseases and parasites can be transmitted from pet dogs to their owners.
However, with wrist licking, there is minimal risk of infection unless your skin is damaged or broken.
If you have a rash or a cut close to where they want to lick, you should not let them do so, but otherwise, it’s very safe and totally up to you if you want them to carry on.
How to Stop Your Dog from Licking Your Wrist
The most obvious and easiest way to stop this canine wrist-licking behavior is to prevent them from being able to get to it.
For example, you could wear long sleeves or stop them from sleeping in bed with you (when your wrist is easy for them to get to).
If that isn’t suitable, you can also try training them. Let’s see how…
How to Train Your Dog Not to Lick Your Your Wrist
When training a dog not to lick your wrist or anywhere else on your body, we first need to remember that licking is a perfectly natural behavior for them.
This means it might be hard to eliminate the wrist 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 the licking.
- 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 your wrist – you need to 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 your wrists, 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 this wrist licking 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 Your Wrist So Much
If your dog licks your wrist, the chances are that it is due to one of these reasons:
- Your wrists taste nice to your dog.
- To show you affection.
- To express submission.
- To groom you.
- The dog might be sick, in pain, or anxious.
- You might have accidentally trained your dog to enjoy licking your wrists.
In most cases, this behavior is nothing to worry about.
However, you shouldn’t let your dog lick any products on your skin and keep them away from your wrists if your skin is damaged.
The easiest way to stop your dog from licking your wrist is to cover your arms. You can also train them not to do it, although this will take time and patience.
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!