A dog licks skin, including feet, because it likes the salty taste. A dog may lick people and other animals as a sign of affection. The urge to lick is an instinctual trait that is instilled into a dog's behavior at an early age.
An adult dog licks a newborn pup as a form of nurturing. Dogs lick as a gesture of kindness or as a means of attaining acceptance. Dogs may lick their owners to get attention when they want to be petted or if they want to play. Licking can be controlled through behavioral modification, such as the cessation of petting when licking starts.