It was the aim of the present study to evaluate social licking (actors) as well as self-licking in dairy cows with regard to their usefulness as positive welfare indicator using heart rate measures. A reduction in heart rate was assumed to indicate calming effects. On in total 16 days, between 9 and 19 out of 20 Simmental dairy cows were equipped with heart rate monitors. Social licking (spontaneous, after solicitation, after agonistic interactions) and self-licking was continuously observed for three hours per day. Using scan sampling, feeding, standing and lying was recorded every five minutes. Data were analyzed using linear mixed models. Social licking (n= 118 events) did not generally cause a significant change in heart rate. However, a significant reduction was observed when licking was performed spontaneously while standing or during feeding phases. There was no effect of licking after solicitation or of licking after agonistic interactions on heart rate. Intra and inter-individual variation was generally high. Actors may experience social licking only positiv if it is performed spontaneously. However, based on the present results, the use of social licking as a welfare parameter indicating positive affective states cannot be recommended for dairy cattle. During self-licking, heart rate was higher than in the reference periods with the same activity. Furthermore, there was a slight but significant decrease of heart rate after the self-licking events. However, the order of magnitude of changes in heart rate does not allow for conclusions concerning calming effects of self-licking.