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Dog Behaviors 101: Why Does My Dog Groom Me?

Posted on September 13, 2023 by Misty Fleming

Why does me dog groom me?

Have you ever noticed your dog licking your face and hands or even chewing on your hair? This causes many dog owners to ask, “Why does my dog groom me?” While it might seem strange at first, this behavior is quite common among our canine companions. Dogs groom their owners for a variety of reasons, and it’s essential to understand these motivations to strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend.

Expressing Affection

Dogs are known for their unconditional love and loyalty. When your dog grooms you, it’s often a way of showing affection and love. Just as you might hug or kiss a loved one, dogs use licking and nibbling as a way to convey their feelings. It’s their way of saying, “I care about you, and I’m here for you.”

Social Bonding

Grooming is a fundamental aspect of canine social behavior. In the wild, dogs and wolves groom each other to strengthen social bonds within their pack. When your dog grooms you, they view you as part of their pack and want to reinforce the connection between you. This behavior helps build trust and a sense of belonging.

Relieving Stress

Dogs may also groom their owners as a way to reduce their own stress or anxiety. The act of grooming releases endorphins, which can help both dogs and humans feel more relaxed. So, if your dog licks you after a long day or when they’re feeling nervous, it’s their way of self-soothing while seeking comfort from your presence.

Mimicking Puppy Behavior

Puppies often engage in grooming behavior with their mother and littermates. As your dog sees you as part of their family, they might carry this puppy-like behavior into adulthood. It’s a sign that they trust and view you as a source of care and protection.

Exploring and Learning

Dogs explore the world primarily through their senses, including taste and smell. When they lick or nibble on you, they’re learning about your scent and taste. This behavior is akin to how dogs investigate their environment by sniffing and tasting new objects.


Dogs communicate through body language, and grooming can be a way of sending messages. For instance, if your dog licks your face or hands, they might be trying to tell you that they’re hungry or seeking attention. Paying attention to the context and your dog’s body language can help you understand their message.

While dog grooming is generally a sign of affection and bonding, it’s essential to set boundaries and teach your dog when it’s appropriate. If your dog’s grooming behavior becomes excessive or bothersome, consider training them to limit it to certain times or situations.

More Reading: How to Choose the Right Dog for Your Lifestyle

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