Why Does My Dog Lick My Other Dogs’ Face? A Vet’s Opinion

Many people, especially when they are at their first dog-owning experience, are baffled at some of their pets’ behaviors. In human terms, indeed, many of their actions do not make much sense. However, if you look with attention, you will notice that all of their behaviors hold a precise meaning.

If you are wondering, why does my dog lick my other dogs’ face? Your dog licks other dogs’ face to communicate that they are friendly in nature, to show that they are submitting, and as a way of showing affection to a dog that they all right know.

The next question is: what should you do when your dog licks another dog’s muzzle? The one rule you have to follow is not to intervene. Just let your dog socialize. The licking is a sign of a friendly and playful relation, so there is nothing to worry about.

After your dog has been socializing, it is a good measure to make them execute a command—like “sit” or “roll”—and offer a treat. This will create a positive connection between your dog’s friendly behavior and a reward, thus encouraging your four-legged friend to always be sociable.

In general, there is nothing to worry about if your dog licks other dogs’ faces according to Dr Karla Frazier of the Hillsdale Animal Hospital. If anything, it means that your puppy is joyful and eager to make new friends. However, in certain instances, it can reveal some underlying issues.

Why Is My Dog Licking My Other Dogs’ Mouth? Is It Normal?

Muzzle licking usually is a means through which dogs express deference. As such, the licking always comes from the more peaceful and submissive dog towards the more dominant and confident dog. Rather than to a kiss of affection, it can be compared to social kissing, demonstrating that your dog has no ill intentions.

However, this behavior has different shades, depending on the situation in which it takes place. If one of your dogs licks your other dog’s mouth, and they are already well acquainted, you shouldn’t worry as this is a sign of friendliness. As long as both dogs are ok with it, there is no reason to interrupt this habit.

In fact! Take a look at the video below to have a seasoned trainer’s look behind the importance and practicality of socializing your dog and what to expect.

When Is Muzzle Licking Not Okay?

If, on the contrary, the dog getting licked gets nervous, growls, or tries to walk away, it would be better to discourage licking for the safety of your dog. The same goes if your dog obsessively licks other dogs, unable to stop. Separate the dogs and offer both treats to interrupt the behavior positively. It would be prudent to provide a treat like those from Stewart. This freeze dried beef liver is both easy to eat and tasty to enjoy by many a dog breed. Feel free to take a look here for more information.

While licking is a way of communicating, obsessive licking is not normal and betrays poor socialization. If your dog does not have a lot of experience being around other dogs and thus feels anxious or over-excited, it may insistently use this stereotypical behavior — inherited from the puppy stage — to try and make friends. 

Another Meaning of Muzzle Licking: The Desire To Be Fed

If the older dog is the mother of your new puppy, then the licking on the mouth has a different meaning. This behavior traces back to the times when dogs had not yet been domesticated. In the wild, puppies would lick their mother’s muzzle after she had been on a hunt.

As such, according to the American Kennel Club, this behavior indicates a desire to be fed. A vigorous licking was a signal that the puppy was ready to receive some semi-digested food from her mouth, as puppies cannot chew on meat during weaning. 

Why Does My Younger Dog Lick Older Dogs’ Face? Find Out Here

Sometimes you may notice that your younger dog licks your older dog’s face. This is especially common if you have recently acquired a puppy while having another dog or a brood already living in your house.

In this case, initially, the younger dog will lick the older dogs’ face as a sign of deference. In fact, you might notice that the younger dog usually approaches the older one from under the chin. In canine language, this is a way of demonstrating subordination.

This behavior will then turn into a sign of affection if the two dogs get along, and it is very likely to turn into a lifelong habit. As long as your dogs seem to consider this a positive interaction, you can consider muzzle licking a healthy display of friendliness.

As such, it is a behavior that should be encouraged, especially if you recently acquired a new dog and want it to socialize properly. How can you do so? If you just adopted a puppy and already have dogs at home, it is time to make the proper social introductions!

Have the newcomer meet your dog, or one dog at a time if you have a brood. Remember to always start with the friendliest dog. Give them some time to study each other. If they are happy with the interaction, you will notice that they will spontaneously take the initiative of licking each other. A new friendship is in bloom!

Why Does My Younger Dog Groom My Older Dog? Here’s the Truth

As seen above, it is common for a younger dog to lick the muzzle of an older one. Dogs instinctively know “who’s boss” in the pack and will adopt this conduct to show respect. Normally, if your older dog is well socialized, it will graciously accept the attention of the younger dog, especially if we are talking about a puppy.

In certain instances, your young dog will resort to muzzle licking as a way of “apologizing” after rough playing. Dog’s behavior expert Arden Moore affirms that it is a way to restate that the young dog has peaceful intentions.

As the puppy grows into adolescence, the older dog will grow annoyed with the unrequested face cleaning services. When this happens, the more mature dog will try to teach the younger one more appropriate ways of approaching its peers.

When Should I Start To Worry?

All of the playful interactions involving muzzle licking are nothing more than physiological. However, if you notice that your younger dog starts licking insistently your older dog—and you are sure that the cause is not poor socialization—it would be best to pay extra attention to the health of your four-legged friends.

When a dog insistently licks another dog’s mouth, it may mean that it is perceiving something is off. The dog receiving the licking might have bleeding gums, an ongoing infection, or even a tumor. So, if your young dog suddenly changed its behavior around the older one, consider getting the latter checked by a vet.

The same goes if your puppy shows undue interest in your other dogs’ private parts. Normally, irritations, infections, or open wounds are the cause of its inopportune interest.

Finally, when talking about ear licking things are a bit more complicated. Take into account that earwax is attractive to dogs and that the skin around the ears produces pheromones in adults. Once again, the rule of thumb is that if the licking is excessive, you should start suspecting a health problem.

Why Do Dogs Lick Other Dogs Wounds? Explaining this Behavior

As it should be obvious by now, dogs have a sixth sense when it comes to sensing health issues. But why are dogs compelled to lick other dogs’ wounds? Once again, the expertise of Dr. Karla Frazier comes to our help. According to her, there are two categories of dog licking: behavioral and medical.

The behavioral instances of licking are the ones we have explored so far, expressing deference, friendliness, or simple hunger. From the medical point of view, when dogs lick themselves there is usually an underlying health issue: from fleas to dermatitis and allergies, the causes for excessive licking abound. If your dog has any issues with allergies, there might be some options to deal with it. The supplemental allergy medication from Zesty Paws can help mitigate seasonal allergies to helping your dog’s skin less prone to dry areas. Take a closer look here!

Dogs tend to lick each other’s wounds. For dogs, licking their wounds is the sensorial equivalent of rubbing your head when you hit it. The pressure relieves the pain or soreness.

Plus, the dog’s saliva has a mild antibacterial effect, and the act of licking itself helps remove debris from the area. In short, when a dog licks another dog’s wound, it is trying to provide comfort.

Is It Okay for Dogs To Lick Open Wounds?

As dogs are naturally prone to licking their wounds, you would think that it is an effective way of encouraging healing, right? This might be true for feral dogs, as licking wounds helps cleaning them up.

But when discussing pet dogs, the licking can cause further damage and bring about inflammations or infections. As they have a lot of time on their hands—or paws—they will devote a lot of time licking the wound, thereby extending it.

If your dog has an open wound or is showing excessive interest in another dog’s injury, seek the help of a vet as soon as possible. In some cases, a collar will be necessary, whereas in some other instances a bandage will do. At any rate, even if they mean well, dogs should not be encouraged to lick open wounds.

Even more importantly, do not let your dog lick your wounds. Although dogs’ saliva does have some healing properties, the mouth of a dog is not the cleanest of places. Therefore, the risk of contracting an infection surpasses by far the potential benefits.

Older Dog Licking Puppy: Is It Normal or Should I Worry?

Here we are: you adopted a new pup and—after ignoring it for a bit—your older dog is now all over it, sniffing and licking excitedly. Should you be worried? Not at all! This practice is known as “dog social grooming”, and it is a dog’s way to sense its new companion of adventures.

Just as we shake hands and enjoy some small talk, dogs use their smell and taste to get to know each other. The smell alone can convey a lot of information about the other dog: its age, gender, sexual readiness, health conditions, and even what it had for breakfast!

Another regular occurrence for dogs’ parents is witnessing the older dog licking the private parts of the newly come puppy. In human terms, this behavior is very hard to understand. But in canine terms, it is a way of taking care of the new member of the family.

Older dogs will lick the privates of young dogs to stimulate the elimination of waste. Therefore, you can rest assured that your old pal’s interest comes from a good place. The one thing to keep in mind is that excessive licking can cause irritation.

As we are talking about a delicate part, if things get out of hand just redirect the older dog. Do not scold it or yell at it, or you risk worsening things. Rather, you can offer a toy to get its attention, thus discouraging the licking while keeping your dog happy.

This Chart Discusses the Many Places Dogs Lick Each Other:

Which part of another dog does my dog lick?Percentage of total results
A common area dogs tend to lick other dogs is near their genitals.41.17%
Pet owners have reported having their dogs lick around the face/mouth region of other dogs.29.41%
Dogs licking each other’s bottoms is a fairly common practice that can be prevented with disciplined training.17.64%
A lesser common unhygienic tendency dogs have is to lick other dogs’ urine.11.76%
Data derived from multiple online pet forums

Why Do Dogs Lick You? Is It Actually Their Way to Kiss You?

By licking, a dog can express an array of different emotions. After all, the man’s best friend was not given the gift of speech, so it has to make do with what it has! So, if you wonder why do dogs lick you, do not expect a straightforward answer.

In general, if your dog licks you, it is indeed a sign of affection. If you enjoy the occasional, unconventional face wash, know that dogs also release endorphins during the act. Remember that, as discussed above, puppies lick the mouth of their mother looking for food, so they retain that instinctual habit as a sign of nurturing behavior.

However, dogs may lick you simply to get your attention and encourage you to play with them—just as they do when they want to play with other dogs. Another reason that might prompt your dog to lick you is that it simply likes the taste of your skin. Dogs appreciate the salty taste we humans get after a workout.

Finally, your dog may be trying to calm you with its “kisses”. Dogs are great at sensing the feelings of other animals and humans around them and are affected by them. If they feel that you are nervous or anxious, they might lick you to soothe you and, in return, soothe themselves also. Now, you are ready to interpret your dog’s licking in all its facets!

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